Monday, July 4, 2011

Youth Baseball: College Conference Tournament

If you are a coach looking for a good baseball tournament, I recommend the Ohio Elite College Conference Tournament held in Dublin, Ohio during the July 4th weekend.

My son and his team participated in the U13 tournament this weekend. Here are 10 reasons why I liked about the tournament:

  1. The locations: Dublin, Ohio which is northeast of Columbus, Ohio is a nice town with lots of hotel and restaurant options. 
  2. The fields: The U13 tournament was held on fields 5 - 9 at Avery Fields. The diamonds were well groomed and the fences 285 - 306 feet away. There were, however, two minor issues with the fields. They were dusty and the height of mounds were inconsistent. 
  3. The competition: The tournament attracted 22 elite and super elite teams from 5 states. The tournament committee did a fantastic job setting up pools that were fair and balanced.
  4. The tournament format: The 6 game minimum double elimination format was the best feature of the tournament. Each team played 4 pool play games. Then the entire field advanced to bracket play and competed in a double elimination tournament. This format works for both the super elite teams and the elite teams. For the super elite teams, this format practically assures that the best teams will advance and prevail. The double elimination format reduces the chances that a super elite team will be prematurely dispatched by a much inferior team with one stud pitcher. The top 10 teams of the 22 team field were given byes in the first round of bracket play. This allowed more evenly matched teams seeded 11-22 to compete against each other in the first round of bracket play. Our team earned a 13 seed with a 2-2 record in pool play. We played the 20th seed and won. We then played a far superior 4th seed team who sent us to the losers bracket. Again, we were matched up with a team (17th seed) we could compete with and won. We eventually lost to the 16th seed. So what I really liked was that the non-super elite teams could find some success, while the best teams prevailed.
  5. The concession stand: Affordable hot food (hamburgers ($2.50), hot dogs ($1.50), pretzels ($1.50), nachos, etc.) and cold drinks (water ($1.00), soda ($1.00), Gatorade ($1.50).
  6. The pool play awards: After pool play was over awards were given to the top Home Run hitter, the top strike out pitcher and gold glove performers. (The opposing coach selected a gold glove winner after each game.) The winners received a large wood black bat engraved bat.
  7. The elimination bracket Awards: Prior to each game, the tournament committee gave each coach a light blue mini-bat with a game MVP inscription. After the game, the opposing coaches would award a player from the other team the bat.
  8. The umpires: The tournament attracted some really good umpires. (I am sure there were some who would disagree, but I did not hear many complaints at all from the fans during the 8 games we played.)
  9. The trees: The spectators were able to find shade under trees that dotted the sidelines.
  10. The tournament committee: This was a well run tournament. All games started on-time for the most part. 
Tag Play at Home

Pitch Counts: There were no rules concerning pitch counts or innings. The amount of work a pitcher does is at the discretion of each manager. Coaches, make sure you have enough pitching for this format. The winning team could play 10 - 14 games in 5 days.

Hotel: We stayed at the Crown Plaza Hotel and Conference Center. This hotel was not up to the usual standards of Crown Plaza hotels. We had a first floor room that was damp and musty. We were moved to a 3rd floor room which was more comfortable, but not great. This hotel seems a bit worn out. The kids did like the pool and the breakfast buffet.

The Main Point

This is a well run tournament for elite and super elite teams. 

We finished pool play 2-2 and then went 2-2 in bracket play. We did not win the tournament, but our team found some success and had a great time. Our team only had 10 players with 8 pitchers. We really needed a few more pitchers. I am not sure what our team would have done if we advanced more. We played 8 games in 4 days and could have played 13 games (91 innings) in 5 days (unlikely but it was possible).

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