Tournament of State Champions

By: Michael Wooten
By: Michael Wooten

Many of us have seen the Little League World Series on ESPN… It’s a chance for young eleven and twelve-year-old ball players to show their skills.

But for nine and ten-year-olds, the season ends with the state tournament. That is, until recently, when West Virginia started the nation's only tournament of state champions.

It was held on Saturday and Sunday at the legendary Mitch Stadium, where folks from several states are cheering on their all-stars.

Virginia Catcher C.J. Evans has high hopes. His team is now 2-0 in the Little League Tournament of State Champions. But he has plenty of competition.

From "Sweet Home Alabama" to the bluegrass of Kentucky, the competition has ten teams from ten states. They were all West Virginia bound, wishing for a win.

Tom Nauss is manager of the Georgia all-stars. In his twenty-five years in little league, he's never seen a tournament quite like the one in West Virginia.

Basically, everything at the tournament is designed to give kids the major league feel. It has everything from the turf on the field to professional-looking dugouts. Even the television coverage is professional, courtesy of MSPN, the Mitch Stadium Production Network.

From the live internet play-by-play, to the four-camera setup, it's baseball broadcasting at its best.

Scott Hensley is the Head Groundkeeper, and helps run the tournament. He says it's good for the kids and the community.

“It's actually hard to get hotel rooms in the greater tri-state area,” said Hensley. “We have teams staying as far away as Teays Valley."

It's not hard to find Sheryll Norrell cheering for her son, but she knows the score is not what matters most.

“Of course they love winning,” said Norrell. “But more than just winning, they love playing the sport and playing with each other and spending time on the ball fields.”

It’s where winning is more than just the final score.

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