Players and coaches were part of the opening ceremonies for the Perfect Game Invitational National Baseball Tournaments on Tuesday, July 11 in Southaven. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
If it’s July in DeSoto County, at least two things are certain: heat, and youth baseball.
On the heels of the recent Dizzy Dean World Series’ annual visit to the Snowden Grove complex in Southaven, a new tournament has populated the diamonds.
Perfect Game has been holding its Invitational National Baseball Tournaments at Snowden Grove last week and again this week. It is considered the world’s largest and most comprehensive scouting organization, claiming 1,959 major league players and over 14,000 MLB draft selections as having gone through its programs.
It’s the first time the championship event has been held in Southaven after being held in Sanford, Florida the past two years of its three-year existence. 10U and 11U tournaments were held last week. Starting Wednesday, July 12 tournaments for 9U and 12U teams are being held on the 17 turf diamonds of the Southaven youth sports complex.
The organization has always been involved in promoting youth baseball at the older levels, but Tony Harper, Perfect Game Youth Operations and Tournament Director, said it has just recently started being more active in the younger ages.
“Perfect Game started out as a showcase organization for older age groups and the high school,” Harper said. “We’ve just recently dipped into the youth age groups. It’s travel baseball. We track all of their stats and we have all of the games live streamed. It gives kids the opportunity to put themselves out there on a baseball level.”
During the tournament, held through July 17, a total of 51 12-year-old teams and 18 nine-year-old teams from 17 different states will play at least six games with hopes of being called national champs at the end of it all.
“This is one of the most elite travel ball tournaments in the country for Perfect Game,” Harper said. “It is not a tournament where just anyone can sign up. Each and every one of them have won their way here and all of the kids deserve to be here.”
Opening ceremonies, tournament schedule release and coaches meeting were all held at the BankPlus Amphitheater Tuesday evening, with the opening ceremonies featuring former major leaguer Troy Tulowitski and Inky Johnson speaking to the players.
Tulowitski, who played shortstop for the Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays during his 11-year major league career, was a five-time All-Star. Johnson has become an inspirational and motivational speaker since he was injured in a 2006 University of Tennessee football game that paralyzed his right arm.
You can follow the 9U tournament when you CLICK HERE.
You can follow the 12U tournament when you CLICK HERE.