American Little League gears up to host tournament

In front of Melissa Mathis was a stack of T-shirts. “I’m checking them all,” she said. “I don’t want a single name wrong. I want everything to be perfect.”

If perfection is not reached at the Georgia State Little League Baseball Tournament for 11- and 12-year-old all stars that runs Saturday through July 30 in Columbus it won’t be for a lack of trying by a lot of people.

“Something big is coming and we’re going to be ready,” Mathis, the president of American Little League, said earlier this week.

The league is hosting the tournament on its fields at Double Churches Park on Double Churches Road.

“We have worked very hard but it has been fun,” she said. “It’s the state tournament and it won’t come back to Columbus for another 10 years, so we want to do it right.”

Mathis said there was no bidding process. The league just applied and filled out forms showing that it fit the qualifications, many of which came concerned safety.

“I don’t know if many others applied,” she said. “We were chosen and I’m glad.”

Of course, she was hoping for the American team to make the tournament but Northern topped American in the District 8 championship game.

“We’ll be pulling hard for the team from Columbus,” Mathis said.

Randy Morris, the manager of Northern, would have loved to be playing on Northern’s field but thinks his team will still have an edge playing at American.

“We should have a lot of fans here,” Morris said.

Mathis said volunteers from Northern have come over to help those from American and that some food not used at a recent all-star softball tournament hosted by Northern has been donated.

“It’s great to see the two leagues working together,” Mathis said.

Teams participating in the tournament are Cartersville from District 1, Murphey-Candler from District 2, Midway-Scottsdale from District 3, Brooks from District 4, Warner Robins East from District 5, Martinez-Evans from District 6, Toccoa from District 7, Northern from District 8, Bryan County from District 9 and Walton-National Central from District 10.

The local team Northern does not play until Sunday when it faces Warner Robins at 1 p.m.

Details about teams

The teams are divided into two pools. Each team plays the other teams in its pool over a five-day period. The two teams with the best record in each pool advance to a single elimination final four. The champion advances to the Southeast Regional in Warner Robins.

Activities for the teams included a banquet at Columbus State University.

Mathis said city workers have been cooperative and helped prepare the grounds.

“They provided some sod we needed,” she said.

The city is currently renovating the swimming pool at Double Churches Park.

“We were told the crews would keep their equipment to one side and try to stay out of the way,” Mathis said.

There is a shortage of parking space in the area but Westminister Presbyterian Church, which is across the street, is allowing guest to park in its lot. Mathis said she didn’t believe there would be any danger with fans crossing the street if they’re careful.

The Columbus Sports Council also helped those coming from out of town find hotel rooms.

She said that people not directly connected to either league have called offering their services.

“They say they are willing to pick up trash, just whatever,” she said. “The work of a lot of people is going to make this a successful week.”

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