Youth ball teams headed to B’ville

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

J.P. Hudson Park will host five divisions of youth baseball and softball as a host site for the Dizzy Dean state championship tournaments this weekend. Hundreds of families will be in Batesville representing more than 40 out-of-town all star teams, an economic boost that local leaders don’t take lightly.

Hotels are booked to near capacity and restaurants and other retailers are preparing for the influx of teams and their fans. Tournament play starts Thursday and should conclude Sunday if there are no weather delays.

Park director Dave Aven said this year’s tournaments will be the largest hosted at J.P. Hudson in recent years, with volunteers spending the first part of the week setting up fields, marking off parking, and arranging for concessions and other amenities for visiting teams.

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“I’ve had several people comment about how nice our park looks and how much they enjoyed the people at our local restaurants,” Aven said. “We would not be able to host this tournament without the help of board members and especially Brian Seay and his family.”

Hosting tournaments is a major source of income for the private park, which doesn’t receive regular city funding. The costs of hosting tournaments can escalate considering the expense of umpires, official scorers, and support staff.

Many of the teams are from areas that are easy driving distance and usually don’t spend nights here, but all spend money at retail outlets and for food.

Alderman Teddy Morrow, who was part of the J.P. Hudson program for many years while his children were young, has seen the yearly tournaments grow into an early-summer bump in the local economy that is noticeable with sales tax collections.

“When we look at city budget and income numbers every year there are certain times that the city really sees a jump in sales tax collections and mid-June is always one of those times,” Morrow said. “J.P. Hudson and Batesville are known around North Mississippi as a good place to visit for youth ball and our board recognizes that these tournaments are more than bats and balls and dirty kids. We work hard to make our city a place where these families want to visit.”

Aven said this weekend’s 48 teams (including Batesville entries) will play in three softball age groups (6, 8, and 10) and two baseball ages (6 and 10).

There will be three other Dizzy Dean state championships taking place in the cities of Caledonia, Senatobia, and Cleveland. Batesville will send teams to those tournaments as well.

Aven and the J.P. Hudson officials held a warm-up event last weekend when they hosted 33 teams (27 from out-of-town) for the annual Batesville Bash. There were eight age groups of boys and girls with three local teams winning first or second place.

Fans of youth ball are welcome to attend this weekend’s tournament. There will be baseball and softball teams of varying ages to watch and the park will have a full concession stand, a shaved ice tent, and a mobile trailer with energy tea drinks.

Parking will be an issue through Saturday, but casual fans who would like to see the championship rounds will find the parking much less congested Sunday as the eliminated teams won’t return for the final day.