National Babe Ruth softball tourney starts this week
Mon. July 15, 2013 at 2:14 p.m. | By Kelly McElroy/Staff Writer
Hotels, restaurants and three local softball fields will be jam packed Wednesday through Sunday around Houma.
That's because youth softball teams from around the south will converge on Terrebonne Parish for the Babe Ruth Softball Southwest National Regional Tournament starting on Wednesday and ending on Sunday. More than 50 teams will be featured from age groups T-ball, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18.
Terrebonne Parish will be represented with one team per age each age group (except for the 14-year-old group), and games will be played at the Westside Girls Softball Complex on Martin Luther King Boulevard (8s, 12s, 16s), the Broadmoor Fields in the Broadmoor Subdivision in west Houma (10s and 14s) and the Dularge fields (T-ball and 18s).
Tickets prices are $6 for adults $4 for children 12 and under.
Recreation District 2-3 board member and longtime area youth sports coach and supporter Bobby Arceneaux said there hasn't been a Babe Ruth Tournament here since 1999.
"We will draw the brackets up Monday and have pool play on Wednesday and Thursday and start the brackets on Friday. The championships will be on Sunday," Arceneaux said. "I know a lot of hotels are full, so it looks like we will have a lot of people in town. Some of these teams are coming a long way too. We have one from Lubbock, Texas, and another from Del Rio, Texas. They are traveling a good ways."
Arceneaux said teams who make it to the tournament in Houma will have had to have success on the state level to get there. The Terrebonne Parish teams will get automatic spots being they play for the host area.
"Each one of these teams coming in will have to have done well on the state level," Arceneaux said. "Some states send one or two or three teams depending on how big the state tournament is."
The winner of the 12 and 16 age groups will qualify for the Babe Ruth World Series (12s in Florida, 16s in North Carolina), and the second-place teams from each age group will have the option of attending the World Series but must pay their own way.
Any team that participates in the Houma regional also qualifies for a national tournament in Florida called the Extreme National Tournament later in the summer.
Babe Ruth Southwest Regional Commissioner Sonny Groom, who lived in Houma for 52 years before moving to Burleson, Texas, five years ago, said that states and regions represented will be Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, north and south Arkansas and south and west Texas, and that he was happy to help bring the tournament back to Terrebonne Parish.
"Houma has been with Babe Ruth softball 20-25 years or longer. They hosted back when we thought we had a lot of teams. That's when we had nine or 10. Now we have 50," Groom said. "Houma has been very good to me and good to Babe Ruth softball, so I wanted to pay them back any way I could. You will see some very good teams at this tournament."
Groom said the economic impact on the area should be strong.
"I spoke to the Tourist Commission in Houma, and with the amount of teams coming into the area they think it will have around a $2.5 million to $3 million impact," Groom said. "The people of Terrebonne Parish have always provided great hospitality, so I know it will be a great event."
Last year St. Charles Parish hosted the same tournament, and in 2011 it was held in Gulfport, Miss.
Still, the area is no stranger to holding major Babe Ruth events.
In 1990 Houma held a Babe Ruth Baseball World Series and another in 1992, which was cut short because of Hurricane Andrew, and in 1999, the area hosted a national Babe Ruth Softball Tournament.