July 1, 2009
Danny P Smith -
Bigger doesn''t necessarily always mean better.
Take the Dizzy Dean High School World Series in the Golden Triangle this past weekend for example.
Althoough the World Series consisted of only 17 teams, Dizzy Dean Baseball officials Richard Ellis and Stacy Hester were pleased with the results.
Although the response was the lightest in the seven years the Golden Triangle has hosted the World Series, the spirit and competition remained strong.
"Yes, we wish we had 30 teams, but we went with 17 and when you get to the Sunday games and Monday games, it''s the same because you have eight teams that battle hard," Hester said. "It''s just a good experience for the kids and I''m just glad to help make this a pretty good event. I''m looking forward to hopefully doing it next year and make it even better."
Ridgeland High School defended its championship from 2008 by defeating Kosciusko 6-1 at New Hope High School on Monday.
It was the second time since the tournament was hosted by the Golden Triangle that a team won consecutive titles. Tupelo won in 2006 and 2007, while New Hope took the 2005 crown, Lufkin (Texas) claimed the 2004 title and East Paulding (Dallas, Ga.) won in 2002.
For obvious reasons, Ridgeland enjoyed its experience at the World Series the last two years, but coach Brian Rea said it hasn''t just been because of the winning.
Rea expects to bring the Titans back for a run at a three-peat when the Golden Triangle hosts one more time next year, but would like to see the tournament remain at least in the state after that.
"It''s not easy to put on a tournament, especially when it is split between so many different sites," Rea said. "They do a great job and I hope we can keep it here. If it is not here, hopefully it can stay in Mississippi. If (Columbus) doesn''t want it, I hope some other area in the state will take it because this belongs in Mississippi. I feel if we can get more teams back in it, it will pick back up."
The Golden Triangle hosted the Dizzy Dean World Series for the first time in 2002 and 32 teams were in the field with eight out-of-state teams.
After Chattanooga, Tenn., hosted for one year, the World Series returned to the Golden Triangle for its best year in terms of teams in 2004 when 35 came calling. Three out-of-state teams were in the mix.
The Golden Triangle has hosted the World Series ever since with 29 teams and three out-of-state teams in 2005, 28 teams and two out-of-state teams in 2006, 32 teams and three out-of-state teams in 2007, a big dropoff occurred in 2008 with 23 teams and one out-of-state team, then there was the 17 teams with two out-of-state this year.
Hester said it takes someone committed to calling coaches constantly to make sure the tournament is promoted in an appropriate manner. He gave credit to former Tombigbee Director Bob Schubert for making that happen.
"Bob did a great job when he was in charge and we miss Bob in that respect, but as a high school coach as I was and all of the coaches are that do this, you don''t really have the time, but we did get as many teams as we could," Hester said. "I just hate it was only 17 and I apologize to Columbus because they put up the money for the banquet and majority of the host fee. It turned out good.
"As one of the directors of the league, I want to thank all the teams that came and all of the host sites who did the work and all the people who make the tournament a success."
Kosciusko has brought a team to the World Series each year and coach Johnathan Jones has never had a problem in how the event was managed.
"Everybody does a good job making sure it runs real smooth and they do a good job of keeping good umpires," Jones said. "We''ll definitely be back."
Although the bleachers weren''t filled to capacity for the championship game, a nice gathering of Ridgeland and Kosciusko fans were on hand to cheer on their teams on a warm afternoon and early evening.
"Kosciusko was relatively local and Ridgeland made another good run so congratulations to both teams for making it," Hester said. "Anytime you make the championship game on Monday you''ve got a pretty good squad and both coaches are real encouraged about their teams for next year."
Except for a brief period of rain showers Sunday afternoon, the tournament wasn''t interrupted by weather. There weren''t any major scheduling conflicts or issues of any kind which made Ellis happy.
"The weather cooperated and there were a few minor wrinkles (problems) with teams, but we''re real happy with how everything has gone," Ellis said.
Ellis began lobbying for next year''s tournament and talked with the coaches from Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.) about getting other teams in its area to join in.
"We have already committed five new teams (from Florida) and we''re talking to Alabama to see if we can get more teams," Ellis said. "We want to see the World Series grow back to where it was when it was about 36 teams. We want to see it there or better."
Hester was dismissed from his position as New Hope High School baseball coach last month and does not know about his future in the area.
He remains hopeful, even if he doesn''t coach, that he can continue to be used by Dizzy Dean in some capacity.
"I don''t have a clue where I''ll be or if I''ll even have a school, but if we have this thing again, I''m sure I''ll be helping out because I''ve been doing it for several years," Hester said. "I still like to promote baseball. I am a coach, but I am more of an ambassador for the game of baseball.
"I don''t know what I will be doing, but I look forward to wherever the good Lord puts me. Whatever door opens for me, I''ll be looking forward to that challenge."