June 25, 2010 10:27:00 AM
Jeffrey Cook can focus today on baseball.
That will be fine for the Columbus High School baseball coach, who spent Wednesday night hashing out a handful of brackets in anticipation of the Dizzy Dean High School World Series.
When Cook gathered the 14- and 15-team brackets for Thursday''s welcoming meeting for the annual event, they quickly became scrap paper.
In the first hour of the meeting, Cook learned two teams, including one from Florida, weren''t going to participate, which dropped the number of teams to 12.
But the news didn''t faze Cook, who shifted gears and quickly re-arranged the teams. With only five local teams and five host sites, it took a few minutes to make sure each school was scheduled for two home games on the first two days, but Cook took a deserved sigh of relief when the bracket was completed.
"After making five or six (brackets) in a couple of days it worked out good," said Cook, who is coaching Columbus High''s Dizzy Dean team. "It is still going to be a good little tournament. Everybody is going to get their games in, and that''s what it is all about -- just getting more experience for the kids."
Caledonia, Columbus, New Hope, Starkville Academy, and West Point will serve as host sites for this year''s event, which begins today. Down from 23 teams in 2008 and 17 from last year, the tournament will be without a team from Starkville High and Oak Hill Academy, which didn''t field squads in the Golden Triangle''s summer league.
Heritage Academy played in the summer league but won''t play in the World Series.
This is the third and final year the Golden Triangle will play host to the World Series. Dizzy Dean National Board Member Richard Ellis said Thursday the organization will decide in November where the tournament will be played in 2011. He said he hopes the Golden Triangle will submit a bid to play host to the event next year, but he said the World Series has felt the effects of a slow economy and the fact that several other tournaments -- the NEMCABB All-Star Game and the State Games of Mississippi -- are playing in the state.
Despite the lure of other events and a smaller field at the World Series, Ridgeland coach Brian Rea said his team is looking forward to the event. Ridgeland defeated New Hope in the title game in 2008 and beat Kosciusko in the championship last year. Rea said the Titans wanted to return because Dizzy Dean and the Golden Triangle teams have put on a quality event and that his team has benefited from playing against top competition.
The Ridgeland High baseball team was the runner-up in Class 5A this season.
"We''ve had a great experience over here the last two summers," Rea said. "We tell our kids we''re going to come to this thing. It''s not something we decided to come to last week. As far as working around other things, we try to let them know well ahead of time that we''re going back to the Dizzy Dean tournament, and we enjoy going there."
Rea said his team will be different than the previous two. He said Ridgeland High graduated 10 seniors, which makes the World Series a great chance to wrap up a spring and summer of baseball. He said the Titans will bring 17 players to the event. He said one player is at the State Games. The Mississippi High School Activities Association also mandates July 4-10 is a dead week for summer activity.
"There is a lot to compete with," Rea said. "We have a lot of kids who play football, and they''re doing seven-on-seven. You also have the State Games, and it is quite an honor to make that. In the past, when we have had kids who have made that team, we have told them to do that and if you get done in time you can come back and be with us.
"It is priorities. You have to pick something and pick and choose, but everybody at the major events does a pretty good job of trying to work with each other and not overlapping things, but it is impossible. We''re all trying to play in the month of June. In July, right after the fourth, everybody kind of shuts it down. It is inevitable you''re going to have conflict, but Dizzy Dean has always been good. It is organized and we love being in the Golden Triangle. We''re excited about being a part of it for one more year."
The top two teams from each three-team bracket will advance to play Sunday at Columbus and New Hope high schools. The winners will play at 6 p.m. Monday at Columbus High for the championship.
The best overall records will determine the top teams in each bracket. In the event of a tie, head-to-head competition, runs allowed, run differential, runs scored, and a coin toss will be used to determine the top teams.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.