By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (July 3, 2017) — Two Stephenville teams will be playing for a state baseball championship right here in their hometown.
The undefeated Royals (10-0) and the second place Rangers (6-4) are moving on from the Stephenville Parks & Recreation Department (SPARD) 15U league and competing with the Dublin Yankees and others in the Texas Teenage Baseball championships beginning June 24 in Stephenville City Park. (The Flash Today will have more on the Stephenville teams this weekend).
It’s part of an expanded partnership with Texas Teenage Baseball-Softball Association that has the City of Stephenville – through SPARD, of course – hosting more of the organization’s state tournaments than any other city in Texas. Buffalo and Colorado City are each hosting two of the 17 state tournaments sponsored by the association, while 10 other cities are each hosting one.
Stephenville is also hosting the TTAS High School Eligible State Tournament, currently set for June 14-15. An event allowing players eligible for UIL high school softball to come together and compete with their high school teammates against other such teams as opposed to playing with or against “select” competition, the HSE tourney will open on June 13 and follow a three-day format if enough teams are added.
Stephenvllle High School is among those sending a team to the HSE event, but head coach Rus Mayes says the roster and lineup depend on player availability. Family plans and prior commitments to select teams have been known to thin the pool of available players for school clubs during summer months, says Mayes, who has seen the SHS summer squad allow just one total run in wins over Dublin, Granbury and Mineral Wells with Clifton still ahead in the Cross Timbers Summer League.
As soon as the HSE teams roll out of town the next groups will begin rolling in, as the TTAS 15U championships start on Monday, July 17, and will take up much of that week. There will be just enough time to clear those visitors before welcoming more with 15U baseball consuming much of the following week.
The schedule guarantees that beginning July 14, there will be teams and their travel parties visiting the park doing commerce with local hotels, restaurants and retailers for 10 of 14 days.
If there were just six teams in each tournament – there will be more in some – you would have five out of town teams for the HSE event, six for 15U softball and three for 15U baseball (two from Stephenville and one from Dublin). That’s a minimum of 14 travel parties.
Keith Philips has welcomed thousands of people to Stephenville for similar events. Manager of the Stephenville Sox baseball organization that hosts twice-annual Baseball on the Bosque tournaments, Phillips says their organizers are told each player represents an average of four people because parents, siblings and other family often travel along.
Even if there are the minimum of 14 teams and each has only 10 players – one more than the bare minimum – there will 560 visitors – not to mention supporters of the four Erath County teams – added to an already busy month in Stephenville, which has its Fourth of July parade and celebration, the TexStar Ford Summer Concert Series, large team roping competitions at Lone Star Arena and more.