TUPELO • After nearly a month of traveling, the Tupelo 49ers baseball team is back at home for its annual tournament.
The tournament, this year named the King City Classic, begins tonight at Tupelo’s Golden Wave Field and NEMCC’s Harold T. White Field in Booneville.
The field will consist of all five Mississippi senior legion teams, with five out-of-state teams – Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Texarkana, Arkansas; Pulaski, Tennessee; Columbia, Tennessee; and Terre Haute, Indiana.
“In terms of our tournament, this is probably the best lineup we’ve had in the past five or 10 years,” 49ers coach McKinley Holland said. “There are three or four teams that have won a national title here, and then there’s a couple more who have been to the world series.”
Terre Haute is the defending state champion in Indiana, Tuscaloosa is a perennial powerhouse in Alabama, and Columbia and Pulaski finish first and second in the Tennessee state championship more often than not.
Today and Friday will be pool play for seeding, while the bracket play begins Saturday at both sites.
Both semifinal games and the championship game will be played Sunday in Tupelo.
The 49ers, Pontotoc RedSox, North MS Indians, Batesville Pirates, and the Hattiesburg Bombers are the five state teams. Tupelo and Hattiesburg’s junior teams will also be in the tournament.
Since the 49ers (10-7) hosted a small tournament in the middle of June, Tupelo has traveled to play in Indiana, Louisiana, and Tennessee.
Holland said it’s nice to get back home, and his guys are excited to get back in front of their own fans and having the comfort of playing on their home field.
“This is about as brutal a schedule as I’ve ever put together in regards to traveling,” Holland said. “We are excited about this weekend. It’s always fun to play at home and be the entertainment.”
Today at Golden Wave Field, Pontotoc will open the tournament against Columbia at 5 p.m. Following that, Tupelo will face Tuscaloosa. In Booneville, Pulaski faces Texarkana at 5 p.m. with Terre Haute facing Tupelo’s junior team after that.
Before the Tupelo and Tuscaloosa game at 7:30 at Golden Wave Field, former Daily Journal sports editor Gene Phelps will throw out the first pitch and will be honored with a plaque.