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Road to state ends here

Hartselle’s American All-Stars will be the host team for the 2011 Dixie 7&8 Baseball Tournament. They will play Oxford-Black in the opening round on Friday at 7 p.m. Team members, from left, are: (front row) Cade Wiley, Hudson Harden, Carter Borden and Jo McCarley; (back row) Trent Wright, Nathan Naylor, Drew Cartee, Will King, Brody Peebles, Gib Stafford, Hagen Smith and Graham Ellis. | Photo courtesy of LH Dream Fast Action Sports Photography

Hartselle hosts 7-8 Dixie state tourney

Scot Beard
For the Hartselle Enquirer

Sparkman Park will be filled with 16 baseball teams this weekend as they battle for the right to be called state champions in the Double A Dixie Youth State Tournament.

Hartselle will open the double-elimination tournament against Oxford at 7 p.m. Friday night and head coach Tim McCarley said his team has a good shot at competing deep into the tournament.

“I am very optimistic about it,” McCarley said. “These 12 boys have displayed a tremendous work ethic. They have had long practices on hot days.”

With the team’s record in recent games, it is hard to question McCarley’s optimism. Hartselle is 13-1 and has outscored its opponents 222-65.

The only loss the team had was in a tournament, but Hartselle won its next four games and avenged the loss to capture the tournament title.

Hartselle will face tough competition in this tournament, and it will not have an easy opponent in the opening game.

“Have no doubt competition will be tough against Oxford,” McCarley said.

If Hartselle gets out of its eight-team bracket it will face the winner of the other bracket in a best-of-three series beginning Wednesday to determine the tournament champion.

Organizers are happy that Hartselle will be hosting the tournament.

Ashley Balch, President of Hartselle Dixie Youth Baseball, said it is a good opportunity for the city and it is important to put together a good tournament.

“It is huge for the fact we get to show off our facilities and city,” Balch said.

Balch said two brackets were needed to accommodate all of the teams, and the 11-12 field was reconfigured for 7-8 play.

“We expect a big crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday when all teams will be playing,” Balch added. “We’ll have gates at both the 11-12 field and 7-8 field and parking will be available on four parking lots, including the ones at the civic center and softball complex.”

In addition to showcasing the city, the tournament is also expected to help boost the local economy.

McCarley agrees and said the home field advantage could be a benefit to his team.

“I think it is a tremendous advantage.” McCarley said. “It is a tremendous opportunity for them.”

McCarley said he has enjoyed coaching the team and is proud of the work ethic it has shown. He said it has been an honor to coach them and said he is ready for the town to come out and watch the team play.

“We have done little things to keep it fun,” McCarley said. “Whether they win or lose, they will represent Hartselle.”

Clif Knight contributed to this story.