All-Star tourney to swing into action

Published 5:48 pm Friday, July 6, 2012

WILLIAMSTON — Hot dogs, peanuts and Crackerjacks will be in abundance today at Kehukee Park in Williamston as the Tar Heel League District 7 All-Stars baseball tournament will swing into action.
This year Kehukee Park will host the 8U, 10U and the 12U All-Stars, while the neighboring Skewarkee Park, home of the Riverside Knights, will entertain the 14U All-Stars.
The tournament will feature teams from Washington, Chocowinity, Bath, Belhaven, Edenton, Jamesville, Perquimans, Williamston, Ahoskie and Plymouth, as a total of 33 teams will participate in the event.
Twelve-year district director Steve Barnes began planning the tournament in February, and like the athletes who compete, his aim is to put on the best showing possible.
“My goal is to put on a tournament that afterwards everybody in the East can say that we had the best district in the state,” Barnes said. “We want these people to leave Williamston and go on to the state tournament and tell people all across the state how much they enjoyed this tournament and how well it was run.”
The tournament will last about a week and the games are slated to go six innings each, however, the 10-run rule will be in effect. After the weekend, the games will start at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for anyone 12-and-under and the money goes back to helping the league.
“It gives the host league a chance to make some money because most of the leagues are probably underfunded,” Barnes said. “When you have that many people there it generates money to help the league out. Chocowinity had it last year and did well. It helps you be able buy things that you probably weren’t able to buy. It helps everybody out.”
With that in mind, it makes it even more challenging for Barnes to pick host sites for the tournament but he said he tries to be as fair as possible when doing so.
“I do try to use a rotating bases,” Barnes said. “I started this six years ago and have been to places like Williamston and Jamesville and come next February I will work real hard to put this someplace else. I try to be as fair as possible and let everybody get a piece of the pie. I don’t get paid a dime, all this is volunteer work for me.”
Aside from choosing sites, a big challenge for Barnes and his crew will be battling the soaring temperatures.
“The heat is going to be a very big concern on my part. It’s going to be my responsibility to make sure that these kids are safe,” Barnes said. “I will be monitoring the heat every day and if I feel like someone is not safe than I have the ability to stop the whole show and shut it down and play later or another day. I am not going to allow anyone to get hurt or sick if I can help it.”
After the District 7 tournament, those who advance in the 8U and 14U divisions will move on to play in the state tournament in Shelby beginning on July 19, while the winners in the 12U and 10U classifications will move on to play in the state tourney in Anger starting on July 26.