County welcomes 64 softball teams

By: By Amber Hatten-Staley - Sports editor

LAURINBURG — Scotland County Parks and Recreation will be hosting the Dixie Softball State Tournament and welcome 64 teams from around the state to the area next weekend.

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 Saturday, July 14 and runs through Wednesday, 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.

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

Each division has a different name, the 5-6 group is known as the Dixie Sweetees while the 7-8 girls are called the Dixie Darlings. The 9-10 age division is referred to as the Dixie Angels; the 11-12 is known as the Dixie Ponytails. The two teen age divisions, 13-15 and 16 and up are known as the Dixie Belles and the Dixie Debs.

There are five teams competing in the Dixie Sweetees bracket — West Lincoln, Central Columbus, West Stanly, Duplin County and East Columbus.

The largest bracket is the Dixie Darlings, the 7-8 age group, with 11 teams competing — Dunn, North Stanly, East Columbus, East Rowan, West Chatham, Duplin County Americans, Cherryville, Scotland County, West Stanly, Central Columbus and Lumberton.

The Dixie Angels and Dixie Ponytail brackets are broken down into traditional and x-play. Traditional softball is more like how parks and recreation games are structured, whereas x-play follows the rules the high school teams in the state abide by.

There are six teams competing in the Dixie Angels traditional bracket — Topsail, Dunn, Lumberton, Cherryville, Hope Mills and Sampson County — and eight in the x-play bracket — Montgomery County, Richlands, South Stanly, Central Columbus, Mt. Olive, West Chatham, Cape Fear and Duplin County.

The Dixie Ponytail traditional bracket will feature six teams — Scotland County, Dunn, Moore County, Topsail, Hope Mills and Sampson County — and 11 in the x-play bracket — Cape Fear, Montgomery County, South Columbus, Pembroke, Boger City, Burgaw, West Chatham, Duplin County, West Lincoln, Lumberton and East Town.

The Dixie Belles brackets features eight 13-15 teams, including, Pembroke, Sampson County, Cape Fear, West Lincoln, Hope Mills, Richlands, Scotland County and Anson County.

The tournament’s oldest age bracket, the Dixie Debs, will feature four teams — West Stanly, White Oak, West Chatham and Brunswick County North.

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

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.

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

Next week, the Exchange will spotlight the three local teams — 8U Dixie Darlings, 12U Dixie Ponytails and 15U Dixie Belles — that will be playing in the tournament.

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

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Dixie Softball state tournament begins next weekend

By Amber Hatten-Staley

Sports editor