Dixie Baseball All-Star Tournament Begins

D. Mark Mitchell

On the Mark
By D. Mark Mitchell

The Opelika Dixie Youth All-Star teams started their district tournament this week. The Minor League All-Star Team (9-10 year olds) started their district tournament Wednesday (June 16) at Duck Samford Park in Auburn.

Team members: Jack Brandon, Brady Capps, Brock Danford, Erick Fernandez, Hunter Harrelson, Cam Johnson, Ashton Keith, KJ Kyles, Jude Nicholson, Grant Speigner, Turner Underwood and Smitty Young. Manager: Manuel Stone; Assistant coaches: Lupe Fernandez and Brandon Danford.

Opelika Dixie Youth Ozone All-Star team (11-12 year olds), started their district tournament Thursday (June 17) at Auburn’s Duck Samford Park. The team advances to the state tournament by finishing first or second in the district.

Team members: Jack Branch, Will Brandon, Logan Childree, Whit Cooper, Carson Holcey-Billingsley, Pat Neese, Jacob Patterson, Caleb Patterson, Caleb Peoples, Tyson Prince, Tre Stone, Troy Tidwell and Colton Woodell. Manager: Jamie Cooper; Assistant coaches: Kurt Branch and Nicky Tidwell.

The Pee Wee League All-Stars (7-8 year olds) received an automatic bid to the state tournament to be played on July 9 in Troy. Players: Charlie Branch, Blain Bryan, Dave Collier, Trent Colquitt, Brcen Credle, Tucker Greer, Briggs Huto, Jaxin Johnson, Palmer Lane, Noah Peoples and Parker Risner. Manager: Brandon Hutto; Assistant coaches: TR Risner, David Lane and Andrew Bryan.

Opelika Dixie Boys All-Stars (13-14 year olds) finish the regular season this week. The 13U and 14U all-stars will be announced, Friday, June 18, following the last regular season game.

The two teams play in the state tournament on July 9 at Opelika’s West Ridge Park.

Opelika High Baseball player, Brooks Bryan, was selected second team All-State by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.



If you are like me, the word “COVID” brings negative thoughts to your mind. A year ago, most wondered when we would have sports again. COVID shut every athletic event down, including professional, college and amatuer sports.

As a fan of high school sports, I wondered if the Alabama High School Athletic Association would allow sports in 2020-21. I found out the answer to this question at the High School Media Days, hosted by iHeartRadio on FOX Sports the Game, presented by the Orthopedic Clinic. AHSAA Executive Director, Steve Savarese, opened the two-day event with an update on the upcoming athletic calendar. Two days prior to this event, the Georgia High School Athletic Association announced their decision to delay playing football for two weeks, while other states waited.

Savarese told a live radio audience and a room full of reporters, “I have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, announcing a plan to play, not delay.” This was the announcement all wanted to hear. Fall sports were “on go” but everyone had to help do their part to make it possible. Principals, coaches, students, school staff and administrators teamed up to provide a clean and safe place to prepare for the upcoming season. This sounds easier than one would think, but it worked and all sports were able to play in 2020-21.

Savarese’s leadership and vision made the difference between playing and not playing. It would have been easier to announce the AHSAA would “wait and see” where the data takes us, like a bunch of people preferred. Instead, he gave thousands of student-athletes a chance to play sports in 2020-21. The announcement made by Savarese, “I have a plan to play, not delay” may be one of the strongest statements during the pandemic.

Thank You, Coach Steve Savarese!

D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director of iHeart Media, the host of  “On the Mark”, Fox Sports The Game 910-1310, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of Super 7 and the Dixie Boys Baseball state director.


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