Summer Thoughts

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D. Mark Mitchell

ON THE MARK
D. MARK MITCHELL

OPELIKA —

Opelika Dixie Youth and Dixie Boys have completed the regular season and will turn their attention to All-Stars.

Opelika Dixie Youth fields three all-star teams: Dixie Youth Pee-Wees (ages 7,8), Dixie Youth Minors (ages 9,10) and Dixie Youth Ozone (ages 11,12). The team will have open tournament play this week, hoping to win and advance to their respective state tournaments.

Opelika Dixie Boys (ages 13 through 15) have two 15U all-star teams, one Junior DBB (13U) and two DBB all-star teams.

The two 15U all-star teams participated in the 15U state tournament last weekend in Eufaula. Opelika finished with one win and two losses. Opelika’s other team, the Thunder, finished runner-up with a 4-1 record. The Thunder finished 2-0 in pool play, advancing to the finals after winning one game during bracket play on Saturday. The Thunder then lost to Beehive (Auburn) in the Championship game, 8-3.

The two Opelika teams played with class and represented the city of Opelika the right way. As the state commissioner of Dixie Baseball, I applaud the two managers, Art Watson and Jay Siggers, along with all the players.

Opelika Thunder will compete in the 15U World Series in Sterlington, Louisiana, July 20 through 22.

The Opelika DBB all-star team (14U) consists of the following: Brady Blacston, Eli Brogdon, Landon Childree, Jason Hood, Lius Merly, Colt Miller, Carter Neese, Thomas Robinson, Trip Scott and Jordan Waits. The manager is Wes Miller.

Opelika’s Junior DBB is managed by Kurt Branch. Players include: Tyson Branch, Tyson Prince, Will Brandon, Jacob Patterson, Kason Kalla, Troy Tungett, Fuller Young, Christian Terry and Trent Haynes.

The two DBB all-star teams will play in the state tournament, July 8 through 10 at Opelika’s West Ridge Park. The Junior DBB team will play Dothan in a best-of-three game series, with the winner advancing to the World Series in Sterlington, Louisiana, July 22 through 26.

WEST RIDGE PARK

West Ridge Park in Opelika is very busy from March through October, hosting recreation baseball and numerous travel baseball tournaments on the weekend. Opelika is one of few cities that have nine baseball fields, two softball fields and a Miracle Field in one complex. Most of the travel tournaments feature 35 to 60 teams during one weekend. This provides a huge economic impact for the city. Many teams stay overnight, eat in restaurants, buy gas and shop. It is a win-win for the teams, fans and city of Opelika.

The ESG Team-Opelika, led by President Michael Hilyer, does an outstanding job of keeping the fields manicured, trash picked up and grounds cut. West Ridge has aged, but still provides an excellent venue to play baseball and attracts more visitors in a year than any facility in Opelika. I am proud to live in a city that cares about youth sports and recreation facilities.

Mayor Gary Fuller  and Opelika City Council President Eddie Smith are two reasons we have excellent recreation facilities and put emphasis on youth sports and activities. The Opelika Parks and Recreation Department, under the leadership of Director Sam Bailey, are proponents of excellent facilities and offers so many activities/sports, fitness classes and places where the young and old  can exercise.

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

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