The sweet sound of the crack of the bat, followed by cheers. Those sounds will fill the Orangeburg air in the coming days.

America’s favorite pastime will be on tap as the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the 2021 South Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball AA Coach Pitch and Majors Division 1 & 2 state tournaments at the Orangeburg Recreation Park.

Hundreds of players and their families will flock to Orangeburg, hoping to fulfill their quest for a baseball championship.

City officials are excited about hosting the tournaments at the new complex. They view the tournaments as an opportunity.

“Hosting the South Carolina Dixie AA Coaches Pitch and Majors D1 & D2 State Tournament in our inaugural year at the Orangeburg Recreation Park will catapult the City of Orangeburg in the world of sports tourism,” Shawn Taylor said.

Taylor, the Orangeburg Parks and Recreation superintendent for recreation, said the “exposure the city will have from this five-day tournament will be extraordinarily significant.”

Located on Magnolia Parkway, the baseball complex is the newest addition to the city’s recreational facilities. It opened in December 2019, but the ensuing pandemic prevented events from being held at the facility for months.

The $20 million facility — complete with baseball and softball fields, walking and biking trails, green space, concession stands and covered pavilions — will be home to the week-long tournament. The complex was selected as the host site through a statewide bidding process.

“It is with great pride that the City of Orangeburg has been selected to host the state tournament. Our recreation staff and volunteers have spent several months planning what will prove to be an exciting week of baseball,” Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Director Shaniqua Simmons said.

“For some visitors, it will be their first time in the Garden City, and for others, it will display the growth and productivity the city has had in recent years,” Taylor said.

Prior to tournament play, teams will report to the City Gym, located at 410 Broughton St, for the opening ceremony on July 9.

The ceremony will consist of team introductions, fellowship and a keynote speech from Claflin University head baseball coach James Randall. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.

DECEMBER 2019 PROGRESS: City of Orangeburg celebrates opening of new park complex

The games will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 10, and conclude Wednesday, July 14.

A total of 24 teams, district champions from across the state, will be competing in the double-elimination tournament.

Two local all-star teams, the Orangeburg AA Coach Pitch All-Stars and Orangeburg Majors All-Stars, will be competing.

The Coach Pitch division consists of players ages 8 and under. Teams competing in the Coach Pitch division tournament include Greer, Fort Mill, Greenwood County, Lexington National, Hartsville Northern, Gregg Park, Moncks Corner, Bluffton American, Sumter National, McLeod Park, North Myrtle Beach and host team Orangeburg.

The Majors division consists of players ages 12 and under. Teams competing in the D1 Majors tournament include Maple Park, North Charleston, McLeod Park, Hanahan, Lake Marion and Orangeburg.

Teams competing in the D2 Majors tournament include St. George, Barnwell, Bamberg, Dillion, Latta, Hampton, Parks Field and Jasper County.

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Championship games will be played at 10 a.m. on Tuesday for the Coach Pitch division, and 10 a.m. on Wednesday for both divisions of Majors. Games are six innings each.

Taylor said youth baseball will be the focus, but there will also be a focus on exposure for Orangeburg.

“Participants, families, fans and district directors from all 11 districts in the State of South Carolina will get to experience our amazing facility. Plus, the tournament will show the advantages we have here in Orangeburg of how centrally located it is for the Lowcountry as well for all South Carolinians,” Taylor said.

The department’s “3E” principle will be in effect, Taylor said. The principle consists of Exposure, Experience and Excitement.

“When South Carolinians are introduced to our 3E principle, they are exposed to our amazing facility, they’ll experience our Southern hospitality, and they will preserve excitement for the Garden City,” Taylor said.

Admission is $8 per day or $25 for a tournament pass. Children 4 and under are admitted for free. Pets are not allowed inside the complex.

Taylor said safety guidelines will be encouraged at the complex.

“We still encourage our social distancing, we still have our signs posted. We’re still going to encourage staying safe, wearing a mask,” Taylor said.

Official tournament brackets will be posted on the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook Page. A full list of all brackets for South Carolina state tournaments can be found at www.southcarolina.dixie.org.

For questions and more information regarding the tournament, contact the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department at 803-533-6020.

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-596-6530

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