County to host Dixie Softball state tourney

By: By Amber Hatten-Staley - Sports editor

LAURINBURG — Scotland County Parks and Recreation will be hosting the Dixie Softball State Tournament next month and will welcome nearly 50 teams from around the state to the area.

Opening ceremonies will be held on Friday, July 13 at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex, in conjunction with Laurinburg After Five. Tournament play will begin on July 14 and run through July 18.

“We’re going to feed the teams at 5 p.m. over by Dragon Park then we’ll have the opening ceremonies on the soccer field. After that’s over parents can transition to Live After Five,” said Athletics Supervisor Edmund Locklear. “We’re going to have water slides set up. We’re trying to make it a fun atmosphere for everyone. Community members are welcome to mingle and use the water slide.”

UNC-Pembroke head softball coach Brittany Bennett will serve as the guest speaker for the opening ceremonies.

Preparations to bring the event to Scotland County started at the beginning of last year. Parks and Recreation Director Bryan 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.

“Bryan and I went to Moore County where they had their meeting,” said Locklear. “It was us and Cherryville that put in the two bids for the tournament. Bryan dd a presentation on the county and we had packets from Cory Hughes to pass out. The teams, coaches and the director from each district voted and we received the bid.”

Dixie Softball is played in seven states — Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

In order to advance to the state tournament, teams have to win their district in order to receive a bid. District 9, which will be held in Reigelwood, kicks things off June 14-17. The remaining four district tournaments — Boger City, Montgomery County, Pembroke and Duplin County — will be held on June 22.

Girls ages five to 19-years-old will compete in six age divisions — 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-15 and 16 and up.

The four local Dixie teams earned an automatic bid because Scotland County is hosting. The Dixie Darlings, 7-8 coach pitch team; Dixie Angels, 9-10-year-old team; Dixie Ponytails, a 11-12 team and the Dixie Belles, a 13-15 team will all be participating.

Games will be played at the James L. Morgan Complex along with Optimist Park due to the high volume of teams playing.

“We’ll have vendors set up at both locations,” said Locklear.

Winning teams will advance to the Dixie Softball World Series which will be held in Alexandria, Louisiana on July 27.

Admission to the Dixie State Tournament is $7 for those in the community interested in catching a game.

Locklear and Assistant Athletics Program Supervisor Cody Suggs said what they need most at this point is people willing to volunteer their time. Parks and Rec need people to operate the concession stand, help take tickets at the gate and run water to the teams.

For information or to volunteer contact Edmund Locklear, [email protected] or Cody Suggs, [email protected] at Scotland County Parks and Recreation.

Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]

By Amber Hatten-Staley

Sports editor