Youth baseball is just around the corner and the Meridian Youth Baseball Association is gearing up for a busy year.

Meridian will be the host site this summer for the 13-year-old and 14-year-old state tournaments. They will be held simultaneously at the Q.V. Sykes Baseball Complex. Both tournaments will start with a banquet on July 13. The games start July 14.

“We were happy to be selected to host both tournaments,” Meridian Baseball Association vice president David Haggard said. “Our association hosted both tournaments a couple of years ago, but it is unusual to get both of them.

“These tournaments will bring a lot of people into Meridian. They will be eating at our restaurants and staying in our hotels. It will be good for the economy.”

It will also give this year’s 14-year-old group homefield advantage as they try to win one for the thumb. This group won state championships as 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds under coach Mike Sterling.

The Meridian Youth Baseball Association is under the direction of a 24-man board. The association offers Babe Ruth League play for ages seven through 18. Play starts next month with the annual Yarbrough preseason tournaments for each age group. This will be followed by the regular league seasons for the Minor League (ages 9-10), Major Leagues (ages 11-12), the 13-and-14-year old league, and later, a league for 15-18 year-olds. After the season, all-stars will be chosen for the post-season tournaments.

Bubba Hannah is the president of the league. Haggard is the vice president for the 13-and-14-year-old league which is played at Q.V. Sykes Field. The Minor League and the Major Leagues seasons are played at the Phil Hardin Complex. These leagues are played under the banner of Cal Ripkin Youth Baseball, which is a part of the Babe Ruth organization. Tim Miller is the vice president for these leagues.

The Minor League and Major League teams have already been drafted and the teams are practicing. The leagues will start their preseason tournaments April 10 with their regular seasons to follow the next week.

The 13-and-14-year-old league will draft its teams on March 28. Their preseason tournament will start April 17 with league play to follow the next

week.

“Many of our 13 and 14 year olds are still playing their junior high teams,” Haggard said, “There is some overlap some times before they are released to join their summer league teams. But not much.”

Following the regular seasons, the association holds Rookie ball season for ages 7-8.

In all, the association provides baseball for nearly 900 children and youth over the summer in Meridian and Lauderdale County. Haggard said most of the leagues have been filled and there is a waiting list for some,”We have a summer program that gives kids a chance to play a lot of

baseball,” Haggard said.

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