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Ole Miss 12Us set to host district

DIAMOND SHINE: A crew of impromptu grounds keepers prepare the little league diamond in Gas City Park for Thursday’s opening night of the 12-and-under Town and Country District IV tourney, the first step in the organization’s state tournament.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

The little league diamond in Gas City Park was a flurry of activity on Monday afternoon as members of the Ole Miss Youth Sports community came together to prepare the field for the beginning of the Town and Country Little League state tourney trail.  

Mississinewa High School principal and Ole Miss 12U assistant coach Steve Quaderer, Indians’ varsity baseball coach Mike Scott, 12U head coach Josh Stearns along with a handful of other Mississnewa students and supporters shared shovels and sweat as all they prepared the ball field to host the Town and Country District IV tournament starting Thursday evening.

Stearns and Quaderer made it a full day by putting the Ole Miss 12U all star team through a late afternoon practice once the few hours of hard labor by the group was complete.

Stearns said he couldn’t remember the Ole Miss league playing host to any part of the tourney trail in the past but was very much looking forward to being the host for the tourney which will run through Monday.   

“We’re pretty excited,” Stearns said during a brief break at practice. “It’s definitely a lot of work. We spent all day out there today putting stuff in, new infield dirt, clay in the batter’s box. weed eating all that stuff, but it’s good. It will be worth it in the end.”

In the end, district play is just the first round of the state tourney and five of the eight teams competing in Gas City will advance to semistate running July 17-22 in Walton. Four teams will survive the semistate round to advance to the 12U state tournament in Frankton from July 25 thru 29.

Eastbrook, Oak Hill and Madison-Grant will all send teams to Gas City as will Frankton, Blackford, Greentown and Alexandria to battle for the five semistate spots in District IV for the 12-and-under tourney.

Stearns said his Ole Miss team has faced all but Frankton and Greentown during the spring regular season and without hesitation named who he thinks the favorite will be this week.    

“Madison-Grant is the favorite and that’s exciting,” Stearns said. “They were our nemesis last year and they’ve got us every time this year too. They’ve been really good the (pitcher’s) mound.”

Ole Miss has lost just two games of its 15 games played this spring, both to M-G. The Argylls bombed their way to a runner-up finish to Fairfield in last year’s 12U state tourney and appear ready to make another run by piecing together an unbeaten spring. Madison-Grant topped Ole Miss in the Tri-County league championship game and the Argylls also captured the annual Oak Hill Classic tourney a couple of weeks ago. 

The most exciting part of the week for Stearns and the Ole Miss crew?

“The fact that its the state tournament and the competitiveness that we know we’re going to see,” he said. “We had a lot of success early in the spring and we kept preaching to the guys we’re building for something bigger. We want to be ready in July. We know coming in the games are going to be far more competitive and that aspect there is what excites myself and the boys.”

Following are opening round schedules for the 8U, 10U and 12U District IV tournaments involving Grant County little league teams. 

12-and-under tourney (Gas City)

Thursday: Frankton vs. Blackford, 6 p.m., Madison-Grant vs. Greentown, 7:45 p.m.

Friday: Eastbrook vs. Alexandria, 6 p.m., Mississinewa vs. Oak Hill, 7:45 p.m.

10-and-under tourney (Hartford City)

Thursday: Lapel vs. Alexandria (Sovern), 6 p.m., Mississinewa vs. Blackford, 7:45 p.m.

Friday: Alexandria (Rowland) vs. Oak Hill, 6 p.m., Greentown vs. Frankton, 7:45 p.m.

8-and-under (machine pitch) tourney (Alexandria)

Wednesday: Eastbrook vs. Oak Hill, 7:45 p.m., winner plays Tri-Central at 7:45 p.m. on Friday.

Thursday: Frankton vs. Mississinewa, 7:45 p.m., winner plays Eastbrook/Oak Hill vs. Tri-Central winner at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Games in all three locations will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday. Championship games are scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. with an if necessary game to follow.

Marion 12Us eliminated

Marion’s 12-and-under all stars were knocked out of Cal Ripken District tourney with a 14-4 loss to Bunker Hill on Friday.

Isaac Mitchener had a triple and two RBIs while Tre Brown had a double and two RBIs for the Giants.

Marion will play in the Cal Ripken “small” State Finals next week in Bunker Hill.