LAURINBURG — After more than a year of planning, the Dixie Softball State Tournament came to an end Wednesday and it was a bittersweet moment for Scotland County Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Graham.
“It’s been a blessing for Parks and Recreation and Scotland County to be the host,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed it. I was thinking this morning, it’s kind of bittersweet seeing it come to an end because you work so hard to put it together and you see so many smiling faces and people having a good time.”
Preparations to bring the event to Scotland County started at the beginning of last year. Graham and Athletics Program Supervisor Edmund Locklear partnered with Scotland County Tourism Development Authority to put together a presentation to win over the voting members of the North Carolina Dixie State Board.
Once Scotland County won the bid, the real work began coordinating volunteers and staff members between the James L. Morgan Complex and Optimist Park — as games were being played simultaneously at both parks.
“Everything has been a smooth process so far. It’s really been an honor to host,’ Graham said. “There has been a lot of coordination and teamwork. We’ve communicated well and it’s been a smooth process, which has been great.”
Scotland County will be eligible to host the tournament again in three years, according to Graham. Dixie Softball rotates which region the state tournament is held in every year.
“We’ll certainly be putting our name in the hat in three years and hoping for the best,” Graham said.
Dixie Softball National Director William Baker said he’s been extremely impressed with Scotland County’s facilities and thinks this year’s tournament couldn’t have gone any better.
“Scotland County Parks and Recreation and this community has come together and put on a great state tournament — one of the best,” Baker said. “This has been one of the smoothest events we’ve had. We couldn’t do this and be successful without everyone participating.”
The champions of the eight divisions — Sweetees, Darlings, Angels (traditional and x-play), Ponytail (traditional and x-play), Belles and Debs — will head to Louisiana next weekend to compete in the Dixie World Series.
“Overall, it’s been a very successful tournament. We want to thank everyone that’s been involved with putting this on,” Baker said.
Baker said the atmosphere at Optimist Park and the James L. Morgan Complex over the last few days has been a great representation of what Dixie Softball is all about — community, family and sportsmanship.
“We’re here for these girls,” he said.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]