SIKESTON -- Sikeston will be the site of this year's Junior Babe Ruth 14-Year-Old Midwest Plains baseball tournament, which takes place Aug. 3-7 at VFW Stadium.
The city will host state champions from seven states: Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri.
"We are very excited about it," said tournament director Charlie Miller. "There is no doubt the brand of baseball will be good. With the money everybody has gone out and raised for this, the tournament is already a success."
Festivities begin with a banquet on Friday, Aug. 2 at the Sikeston Field House. Guest speakers will be former Major League Baseball players Ray Burris and Bob Forsch. Tickets for the banquet are $10 and can be purchased from a member of the Midwest Plains Regional Tournament Committee.
"The purpose of the banquet is to bring all the teams together to get everybody acquainted," explained Miller. "All of the players from each team will be introduced."
A catered meal will be provided.
Games will begin on Saturday, with North Dakota playing Nebraska at 11 a.m. To make sure all the teams are in attendance, Opening Ceremonies will take place after the third game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
On Sunday, the tournament will open with a worship service at 9 a.m.
"That way these teams coming in won't have to try and find churches," said Miller. "They know where the ballpark is at, and there will be a minister there to conduct a service."
Sunday's games will start at 12:30. The tournament will end on Wednesday.
Since the event is played here, Sikeston will enter a host team into the tournament. The squad will be coached by Philip Black. Tom Ayers and Todd Baker are assistant coaches. There are 15 players on the team. Cody Black catches, plays first base and pitches some. Tyler Baker is a power hitting third baseman that can play some first.
Tyler Brooks is the team's big pitcher and also plays first. Andy Gantner plays middle infield and Trey Glaus plays second base. Cody Cooper can fill almost every position on the field, playing first, third, pitching or outfield.
Brandon Ayers is another power hitter that will play mostly outfield. Andrew Box is another utility player, filling in mostly at second base or outfield.
Colt Pruitt is the team's centerfielder and leadoff hitter. Caleb McClellan is another outfield, and can also pitch. Speed merchant Travis Hudson will also be in the outfield. Scott Gardner plays first, third or the outfield. Southpaw Ross Palmer mostly plays first, but pitches on occasion. Joe Lincoln will catch some and probably play some shortstop and outfield.
Jared Scott will play some middle infield and is one of the team's top pitchers.
"As 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds, the nucleus of this team has been to the regional tournaments before," said Black. "They're not afraid of big games. If they play like they can play, we will do fine."
Winners of the tournament will advance to the 14-year-old World Series at Clifton Park, New York on Aug. 17-24. Admission for the tournament is $8 per day or $25 for the week. Tickets will be available at the banquet and at the gate.
VFW Stadium has been dressed up for the tournament. Both dugouts were painted and a shade cloth has been put up along the outfield fence. The city has already met its housing requirement for 105 kids.
"Like always, the town has kicked in and really helped us on this thing," said Miller. "We've had a lot of free labor working on the ballpark getting it ready. There are a lot of people involved. Sikeston is just a good community. They've always been a big supporter of baseball in this town."
Sikeston's last seven-state regional tournament came back in the late 1960s, in the Connie Mack League. This will be the city's first Babe Ruth regional.