Batter up: Youth baseball, softball tournaments set for Tupelo fields

Carey Simmons knows his Tupelo-based youth baseball team will not be the favorite in this week’s 12-year-old Dizzy Dean World Series at Sportsplex.
However, he does expect his team to battle from the first pitch until the last against some of the region’s top teams.
“We know what’s coming; they know what they’re up against,” said Simmons, who’s coaching the tournament’s host team made up of Tupelo Parks and Recreation all-stars. “I’m confident these kids will give it everything they’ve got.
“They’re not going to lay down.”
The Dizzy Dean World Series is one of three tournaments being hosted this week and next in Tupelo.
The 12-year-old and 10-year-old World Series are being played Friday through Wednesday at Sportsplex. Tupelo also has a 10-year-old host team made up of all-star selections from its park and rec league.
The opening ceremonies for both World Series and their two 16-team fields are scheduled for 8 p.m. today at Sportsplex.
Softball in town
At the Eastwood Softball Complex in Veterans Memorial Park, the USSSA Slow Pitch Softball World Series will be played Friday through Sunday.
The opening ceremony for the multiple age group tournament is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Mall at Barnes Crossing.
The Tupelo Express, coached by Tony Knight, will compete in the 10-under portion of the tournament, which features one day of pool play and two days of double-elimination action.
“We won our league and played in the state tournament,” Knight said. “That helped us qualify for this tournament.
“We’ve been putting the girls through the ringer to get them competitive. I think they’ll be ready.”
Time to play
Simmons and Allan Gilbert, who coaches Tupelo’s 10-year-old baseball team, have sent their teams through practice sessions and practice games to prepare for the postseason event.
“We’re making sure they’re having a lot of fun and learning,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got a great group of young kids. They’re hustlers and they give you 100 percent.”
Gilbert said he wants his players to know it’s an honor to participate in a Dizzy Dean World Series.
“I know the Tupelo Parks and Rec is pulling out all the stops to make this a great event,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll show out a little bit. I think we’ll play well. We’ve got good hitting, pitching and defense.”
Gilbert said most of his roster has played together a few years. That’s not the case for Simmons’ squad.
“We’ve been trying to get a feel of playing as a team,” he said. “These kids have given me everything I’ve asked for. I’d go to war with them.
“It’s been one of my most rewarding coaching experiences in 24 years of coaching high school, college and youth league.”

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

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