Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Poteau goes big time

Baseball people invade town!

Sounds like a horror movie, eh? But not so fast. All the strange faces started arriving in Poteau Monday night and some will be here through Friday, or even Saturday.

Is it some kind of coup? A government intervention?

Nah, just one of the better events Poteau has held in a long time.

Players, coaches and families from seven different towns are in and around Poteau for the 2011 OK Kids Midget State Baseball Tournament.

The tournament began its run in the heat Tuesday at 2 p.m. and games will be held for at least four days, and maybe even a fifth.

Temperatures soared close to 110 on the first day of the tournament. But still the players and their entourages came to the PARC looking for what might be the biggest win of a bunch of 12-and 13 year old boys’ lives.

They came from the west, of course, as there aren’t any other Midget teams between Poteau and the Arkansas state line. They also came from the southwest and the northwest.

Tushka was the closest town from Poteau with Durant running a close second. A group from Holdenville were also in town, along with Kingfisher and Shawnee. Then there were the really long-distant visitors all the way from Weatherford and Elk City, many probably getting their first opportunity to visit the beauty of southeastern Oklahoma.

There were good crowds and some excellent baseball. We saw double plays, a home run (which I missed), exciting finishes and even a mini-wave from the fine folks from Holdenville.

In case you missed it, this is the first time Poteau has hosted a state tournament and this IS a really big deal. We have approximately 10 players from seven different locations, along with coaches, family members and fans visiting our fair community, staying in hotels, visiting local attractions and bringing in a much-needed economic boost.

It is never easy to host a tournament like this, especially for the first time. But everything about the tournament appears to be first rate. The field was in great condition, even if the tournament was held in May. It wasn’t. This is July and we are suffering through a miserable heat wave.

You really have to give credit to many people. Dr. Steve Smith was instrumental in getting the tournament to come to Poteau, along with local OK Kids head honcho, Jerry Pitchford.

But then you also have to give a big credit to Dale Gilstrap, who is the tournament chairman, along with Poteau high school baseball coaches Ronnie Sockey, Andy Perdue and many more.

The City of Poteau made some great improvements to the facility to help make this tournament one many people will remember for a long time. Then there are all those who have spent hours working on the field, or running the concession stand. Plus, local businesses are helping to support the event with donations and publicity, along with making our visitors feel at home.

Hopefully this is the start of an annual tradition. Many of the state tournaments are held way out in western Oklahoma or around the Oklahoma City area.

No, Poteau is not the most convenience location in the state to hold a tournament such as this, but I doubt any other community or group could put it on any better.

The only disappointment, at least for four groups, is their teams lost on the first day. But since the tournament is double-elimination, they get to do it all again today.



  2. We def need more ball tournaments whether it be in Poteau, Heavener, Panama, Spiro...etc...lets boost that sales tax base in all of the area.TB