As if playing with wooden bats isn’t enough, Kenn Dickson’s Junior Babe Ruth Baseball team will have another challenge ahead in the Jim Hill Wood Bat Classic.
“I will have the youngest team in the tournament,” said Dickson, who coaches the Optimist team based at the Seabrook Family Christian Center. “It’s a 16-under division, but we have 13- and 14-year-olds on the team.
“There’s going to be some great competition with great players at that level.”
Dickson is anxious to see how his club will perform in the Classic, which is scheduled for today through Sunday at Seabrook. Optimist will start the tournament at 6 p.m. today with a game against the Sheridan Yankees, whom Optimist beat 13-2 Tuesday behind Trent Goodman’s eight strikeouts and two hits allowed on the mound.
Dickson is expecting a different game tonight.
“They’ve seen us, and the (Sheridan) coach is making adjustments,” he said.
While the young hitters will test their ability with something other than the usual composite bats, Dickson said he’s looking for the pitching to be solid throughout the tournament. He said Optimist has practiced with the wooden bats, and he’s hoping the Pine Bluff team will produce enough offense against older pitchers.
Six 17- to-19-year-old teams will compete in one bracket of the Classic, with four 16-under teams going at it in another pool.
The Classic is named after Hill, a longtime Pine Bluff little league coach and administrator who serves as executive director of Taylor Field. Hill is a member of the Babe Ruth Southwest Region Hall of Fame.
Taylor Field is the site of another baseball tournament set for this weekend. The Freddie Wetzler Memorial American Legion Tournament will host four teams Friday and Saturday, including Pine Bluff’s senior (Simmons) and AA (Relyance Bank) teams, Sheridan and Russellville.
“The kids enjoy playing at Taylor Field,” Pine Bluff American Legion Baseball president Steve Strahan said. “It’s been a good tournament every year. We always have good crowds for the tournament.”
The tournament is a round-robin format with the championship going to the team with the best record. It is named in honor of Wetzler, a local coach and state American Legion president who died in 2010.
Jim Hill Wood Bat Classic
At Seabrook FCC
NOTES: Pools A and B are 17- to 19-year-old teams; Pool C is 16-under teams; time limit of 1 hour, 45 minutes each game except championships
• 6 p.m.: Pool C, Optimist vs. Sheridan Yankees
• 8 p.m.: Pool C, Relyance Bank vs. Southwest Arkansas
• 10 p.m.: Pool B, Pine Bluff Tigers vs. Camden
• 6 p.m.: Pool C, Relyance Bank vs. Optimist
• 8 p.m.: Pool A, Crossett vs. Wingstop
• 10 p.m.: Pool B, Lonoke vs. Pine Bluff Tigers
• 8 a.m.: Pool A, Nashville vs. Crossett
• 10 a.m.: Pool C, Sheridan Yankees vs. Relyance Bank
• Noon: Pool A: Nashville vs. Wingstop
• 2 p.m.: Pool B, Camden vs. Lonoke
• 4 p.m.: Pool C, Southwest Arkansas vs. Optimist
• 6 p.m.: Pool C, Southwest Arkansas vs. Sheridan Yankees
• 8 p.m.: Pool A third place vs. Pool B third place
• 1 p.m.: Pool C championship
• 3 p.m.: 17-19 semifinal, Pool A first place vs. Pool B second place
• 5 p.m.: 17-19 semifinal, Pool B first place vs. Pool A second place
• 7 p.m.: 17-19 championship
Freddie Wetzler Memorial American Legion Tournament
At Taylor Field
NOTE: Team with best record is champion
• 6 p.m.: Russellville vs. Simmons
• 8 p.m.: Sheridan vs. Relyance Bank
• 1 p.m.: Sheridan vs. Simmons
• 3 p.m.: Russellville vs. Relyance Bank
• 5 p.m.: Russellville vs. Sheridan
• 7 p.m.: Relyance Bank vs. Simmons