The Pine Bluff Tigers will face a familiar opponent today when they face Crossett in the Senior Babe Ruth state tournament in Camden.
The Tigers lost 10-9 to Camden in the John Gross Memorial Tournament at Taylor Field earlier this month, but manager Ernest Wooten said the lost was due to “not being at full strength.”
“Some of our better pitchers were gone, but we will have everybody there (today),” Wooten said. “We have had a great week of practice and our guys are looking good.
“We are healed up and we are ready to go.”
Scheduled to start is Cameron Banks, who has a 5-1 record and an ERA that is under 2.00.
“He has several pitches and he can command his fastball,” Wooten said. “He has a lot of control and he changes speeds well, which helps him out a whole lot.”
The tournament is a double-elimination format and if the Tigers (17-7) win today, they will play again at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Except for a pair of games in a college showcase at Memphis, Wooten credited his losses to absent players.
“We lost two games in Memphis, but we faced some pretty good talent,” Wooten said. “We should have one of those games, but we weren’t at full strength.”
This is the first time since their first couple of games that the entire team has been together.
According to Wooten, some key players this year include Jordan Stargell, who has hit several home runs, Trevor Langford, Kenny Edwards and Adam Graham.
Right now, one of the teams in the tournament that stands out to Wooten is Camden.
“They always have a good team,” Wooten said. “But other than them, we match up well with everybody.”
The Tigers lost 3-0 to Camden earlier this season. An error in the fifth broke a 0-0 tie and Camden plated three runs en route to the win.
PB Northern has tough task
The opening round of the 15-year-old Babe Ruth district tournament in Arkadelphia will be no easy task for Pine Bluff Northern as they are scheduled to face Bryant.
“I haven’t seen Bryant play, but normally they are pretty good,” manager Stanley Harper said. “I expect for them to have good pitching, good fielding, and good hitting.
“They are usually well-rounded.”
Northern (12-6) will rely a lot on its speed.
“I expect us to hit the ball and play good defense,” Harper said. “But our speed has been helpful this season as well.
“Usually when we get men on base, we do well.”
Harper has not picked a starting pitcher for today’s 2 p.m. game but he said it could be between Kori Jackson, Bernard Black or Brandon Lowe.
“For the most part, they have all done well,” Harper said. “The majority of the games we have lost, I don’t think they were pitching.
“They are pretty equal and I just don’t know about that yet.”
Overall, Harper has been proud of the way Northern has performed this season.
“I think we lost a few games that we should have won,” Harper said. “We have had a pretty decent season.”
WH All-Stars going in blind
The White Hall All-Stars are going in blind in today’s 15-year-old district tournament at Henderson State in Arkadelphia having no knowledge of Hot Spring County.
“We just found out on Tuesday who is in the tournament,” manager Skip Carr said. “So we are going in a little blind.”
Expected to start in today’s game will be Cade Canada.
“He’s a big kid that throws strikes,” Carr said. “He has some good velocity and has some good off-speed.
“He has good mound presence and he locates well. He is a smart pitcher.”
Offensively, Carr believes that most of the kids can hit.
“In years past, they have hit well in tournaments,” Carr said.
Carr said another advantage for them would be their pitching.
“We think our pitching depth is stronger this year than it has been in years’ past,” Carr said. “We are more confident in them and they are more confident in themselves.”
White Hall will face Hot Spring County today at 11 a.m. in the double-elimination tournament.
Babe Ruth Tournaments
Senior State Tournament
• Winner’s bracket semifinal: Pine Bluff Tigers vs. Crossett, 1 p.m.
• Winner’s bracket semifinal: Monticello/Camden winner vs. Lonoke Bullets, 3:30 p.m.
• Loser’s bracket: Lonoke Banking Center vs. team TBD, 1 p.m.
• Loser’s bracket: Monticello/Camden loser vs. Pine Bluff/Crossett loser, 3:30 p.m.
• Winner’s bracket final, 6 p.m.
• Loser’s bracket semifinal, 4 p.m.
• Loser’s bracket final: Loser’s bracket semifinal winner vs. Winner’s bracket final loser, 7 p.m.
• Championship, 5 p.m. (second game, if necessary, to follow)
at Henderson State Univ., Arkadelphia
• Hot Springs vs. Bryant, 9 a.m.
• White Hall vs. Hot Spring County, 11 a.m.
• Hot Springs/Bryant winner vs. Pine Bluff Northern, 2 p.m.
• Hot Springs/Bryant loser vs. White Hall/Hot Spring County loser, 4 p.m.
• Loser’s bracket game, noon
• Winner’s bracket final, 2 p.m.
• Loser’s bracket final, 4:30 p.m.
• Championship, 4 p.m. (second game, if necessary, to follow)