Andalusia to host 8U Cal Ripken State Tournament

Published 11:00 am Monday, June 26, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The City of Andalusia will play host to 25 to 30 baseball teams and their fans when it hosts the 2023 Cal Ripken 8U State Tournament this week.

Teams from across Alabama will check in at Johnson Park on the afternoon of Thursday, June 29, and opening ceremonies are slated for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 30.

Andalusia Parks and Recreation Director Willie Edwards, who also represents District 8 in the state Babe Ruth organization, said there is a bid process for winning the rights to host the tournament. In the past, only district tournament winners or runners-up participated, but now there is an open invitation.

“Our policy is we only send teams that win or come in second in a tournament,” he said. “But others can participate if they pay their fees.”

Because participating teams pay entrance fees, there is no admission fee at the gate, which means area residents can enjoy baseball all weekend.

Traditionally, when the city or counted has hosted state and regional tournaments, the events have made positive impacts on the local economy.

“I’ve checked with all of the hotels we listed in our tournament packet (all hotels in Andalusia and surrounding cities), and every one of them except one had at least two teams staying there,” he said. “The Best Western was already booked for a family reunion, or they would have teams, too.”

“Any time we can host an event like this one, we are proud to do so,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “We know both from talking with local retailers and by carefully tracking sales tax numbers that ball tournaments and special events like Candyland help us build a local economy. It has always been our goal to give people a reason to come to Andalusia, not just know it as a place they drive through on the way to the beach.”

As of Wednesday morning, there were 15 teams registered with an additional 10 teams to 15 teams expected to register. Andalusia’s 8U All-Star team won the District Tournament in Evergreen, and will participate in the state tournament, as will Opp’s 8U All-Stars.

After this round, only tournament winners can advance. The winner of the 8U Cal Ripken Tournament will play in the regionals in Hot Springs, Arkansas, July 14-17, with the World Series to follow in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Edwards said his overall goal for the state tournament next week is for the players to have good experiences.

“The theme for the week’s play is good sportsmanship,” he said. “The bottom line is that we are here to watch our children play a game, so please enjoy the games for what they are and let the participants do the same. Good sportsmanship is expected and required from all in attendance.”

There will be food trucks at the tournament, and tournament T-shirts, which are $20, will be on sale at the park.