The city of Commerce has partnered with the Dixie Softball to host the Darlings and the Debs Softball State Tournament at the Eddie Moore Sports Complex again this year. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for Friday beginning at 6 p.m.
Field One will be dedicated as the Bob Mills Memorial Field, in honor of the late Parks and Recreation Director.
“We’ve hosted the tournament four out of the last five years,” Commerce Parks and Recreation Director Ricky Harris said. “We anticipate it continuing.”
Harris said that the tournament positively benefits the local economy, as well as providing money that the city reinvests in parks and rec.
“We want to continue being a destination city for tournaments,” he said. “We’re not only benefiting from money coming straight to the park, but it also helps local restuarants, hotels and gas stations.”
The tournament will feature 18 teams with 12 players per team. Add in coaches and family members, and Harris said he expects more than 500 people.
It is difficult to attract a tournament, but the payoff can be well worth the effort.
“It’s a highly-competitive process, and most organizations go to the highest bidder, so to speak,” Harris said. “But Dixie Softball looks at what you can do for the girls and teams that come here.”
Harris said that the city feeds all of the players, coaches and family members during the opening ceremonies and provides players with a goody bags. He also said the tournament has become accostomed to Commerce and the fact that the city has the staff to effectively run the tournament, as well as good facilities.
“Over the past four to five years, we’ve put a lot of money into our fields,” he said. “The city council allows us to put that money right back into the program, so hopefully this year we’ll be able to get enough money for new scoreboards.”
Field One will be dedicated to Mills, a significant member of the Commerce community who served as the city’s Parks and Recreation director before Harris.
“The plan is to have either his wife or one of his sons throw out the first pitch,” Harris said. “He was a big part of the community for years and years, and he’s going to be missed. When I first started, I called him a lot, and he was very helpful to me. Both of his sons played ball on Field One, and he coached there, which is kidn of why I chose that field.”
There are 11 teams in the Darlings Tournament (7 and 8-year-old) hoping to take home the State Champion title. This is a double elimination bracket, which means that if a team loses two games they will go home. Games begin for the Darlings at 9 a.m. on July 12 with Fairfield taking on Franklin County and Hopkins County will match up with Cleveland. Commerce, the host team, is scheduled to play their first game at 11 a.m. against Lindale.
Games for the Debs (16 to 19-year-old), which also begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, pit Pineland against Hopkins County. There are seven teams in this bracket and it is also double elimination.
All games will be played at the Eddie Moore Sports Complex.
A complete bracket for both tournaments can be found on the City of Commerce website at www.commercetx.org.