ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Having the opportunity to defend a state championship is rare, but to do it on your home field is even more special.
Next week, July 21-25, Marion will be the site of the Cal Ripken state baseball tournament for players age 12 and under.
The host team, which also is the defending state champion, will be a select group of Cottonwood Valley all-stars with representation from Marion, Hillsboro and Chase County.
“These are some of the best 12-year-old baseball players in the state of Kansas,” said Casey Case, state tournament committee chair, of the eight teams assembled. “It’ll be high-quality baseball.”
Case said players from seven district championship teams, along with the CVL host all-star team, will descend on Marion Wednesday, July 21.
“We’ll have a barbecue and a home-run derby that night,” he said. “It’ll be catered by Carlson’s Grocery.”
Games are scheduled to start at noon, Thursday, July 22 with the state champion eventually crowned on Sunday, July 25.
The double-elimination tournament will be played at the Marion baseball complex located just north of the Marion football stadium.
On the line is the title of state champion and a trip to Waite Park, Minn., to compete in the Midwest regional.
Parent sponsor of the state tournament will be the Marion Recreation Association. Sub-sponsors are the Marion Baseball/ Softball Boosters.
The tournament director is Mike Jeffrey.
Residents not associated with these organizations will have an opportunity to contribute to the success of the event.
“We’ll need a lot of volunteers for gatekeepers, ticket-takers, scorekeepers and announcers,” Case said. “We also need families to serve as hosts for these kids.
“We need families that are willing to wash uniforms, give the participants a place to sleep, and to feed them while they’re in Marion.”
Those interested in volunteering their services or opening their homes can contact either Marion recreation director Margot Yates at 620-382-3425, or call Case either at 382-2649 (home) or 382-2106 (work).
Case said he hopes the people of Marion will get involved and embrace the tournament, because it will directly or indirectly benefit all of Marion County.
“The economic impact of this tournament will be pretty significant-restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores will all see a direct benefit,” he said. “We’ll also have the concessions out at the ball field run by the boosters, and all that money will go back into our local baseball program as well.”
Case said local motels will also see the financial impact of the tournament.
“We had to book the entire Marion motel just for the coaches,” Case said. “So I assume the surrounding communities will all benefit as well.
“They only play games on one field at a time, so if you keep winning you’re here from Wednesday all the way until Sunday.”
Case said Marion’s successful bid to host the tournament came as a late surprise.
“I was on the Internet back in March, looking to see who would host the tournament this year and found a site hadn’t been determined,” he said. “So I got on the phone and called the district commissioner and asked if Marion would be considered-and he liked the idea.
“I put in an official request and we got it.”
Teams from as far away as Pittsburg, Ottawa and Liberal will be represented at the tournament.
“Our CVL all-star team went down to Wellington last year and won this tournament,” Case said. “For me personally, it’s exciting to know we’re the defending state champions and have the potential to repeat before our home fans and in our home town.”
Case said a “very affordable admission” will be charged.
Tournament action will begin at noon on Thursday, with three afternoon games to be decided.
“At 6:15, they’ll have some very impressive opening ceremony with a live rendition of the national anthem,” Case said. “All the teams will be out on the field and some of the Babe Ruth dignitaries will say a few words.”
Following the ceremony, the CVL all-star team will take the field at 7 p.m. in the first step to their title defense.
Following are the members of the 2004 CVL all-star team:
From Hillsboro: head coach Shawn Edwards, Tyler Ediger, Jacob Fish, Jacob Edwards and Daniel Kunantaev.
From Marion: assistant coach Casey Case, Wil Case, Brian Frechting, Cody Wildin, Dillon Wildin, Isaac Hett and Adam Maag.
From Chase County: assistant coach Jay Talkington, Shawn Talkington, Ben Green, Jim Lauer, Brandon Line and Garrett Benjamin.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL