CHARLESTON?-- The Charleston Senior Babe Ruth baseball squad begins its quest for a state title today when the seven-team state tournament opens at Hillhouse Park in Charleston.
The Fighting Squirrels (26-14) will take on Washington at 8 p.m. in a first-
round matchup of the double-elimination event.
There will be two other first-round games today, including Cape Senior Legion playing Booneville at 5 p.m. and defending champion Mineral Area plays Northeast Missouri at 2 p.m.
Portageville received a first-round bye and won't play its opening tournament contest until 11 a.m. Friday.
There will be four games Friday and three games Saturday.
Two games will be played Sunday, including the championship at 5 p.m.
An if-necessary title contest would take place Monday at 2 p.m.
"We're looking forward to having a great tournament," said Charleston coach
Michael Minner, whose squad also hosted the event last year. "The field is
in great shape and everything is ready to go."
Cape, which finished second in the Dexter Conference North Division behind
Charleston, earned a tournament spot due to the host team's automatic berth.
That was the same way Cape got in the field last year and the squad made the most of it.
"I think we're playing our best baseball at the end of the season and we're looking forward to the tournament," Cape coach Steve Dirnberger said. "I think we can compete with these teams."
After losing its opening tournament game in 2006, Cape bounced back with four straight wins before losing in the title contest to Mineral Area.
Cape wound up advancing to the regional tournament because Mineral Area hosted the event.
"They did real well at state last year and I think we can do the same type of thing," Dirnberger said. "I think it's pretty wide open."
Cape split recent doubleheaders with Charleston and Portageville -- which won the Dexter Conference South Division -- which tells Dirnberger his team has the potential to fare well this week.
"Charleston and Portageville are both very good teams," Dirnberger said. "With that in mind, we can compete ... if we play well, I think we have a chance."
Minner also likes his squad's chances in what he regards as a balanced field.
"Mineral Area is always solid, Portageville is tough, Cape has a good team, we can be a solid team," Minner said. "I think it should be a very competitive, wide-open tournament. I think five, six teams could win it."
The winner moves on to next week's regional tournament in Williston, N.D.