That time of the year has come again. The 19th annual Tarboro Easter Classic kicks off Wednesday with games beginning at 11 a.m.. The classic is where fans of all ages come to Municipal Stadium and enjoy three great days of baseball action from eight high school teams from all over.
There are two new teams that are playing in the tournament this year. The Bunn Wildcats, from Bunn, North Carolina and the Padua Bruins from Parma, Ohio.
Even though Bunn is new to the tournament, their head coach Leonard Allen is not. Allen, who is a 1995 graduate of SouthWest Edgecombe, played for the Cougars in the tournament from 1992 through 1995. Allen also was on two tournament championship teams with SouthWest in 93 and 95. He was named the tournament MVP during his senior season with the Cougars.
For Padua they have a new face leading their team this year in head coach Tom Jurcak who will try to lead his Bruins to a tournament title.
There will be a lot of new faces at the tournament this year, but a lot of the same high schools participating.
The host team Tarboro Vikings has a new face in the head coaches position, but he is not new to the tournament. Vikings first year head coach Justin Smith was an assistant coach for Tarboro for several years before taking over as the head skipper after Pat Miller stepped down after the 2011 season. Smith has his team's goals set high this year and is looking for a strong finish in the regular season for Tarboro. One of the goals they have set is to win the classic for the second year in a row. The Vikings won the tournament in 2009 and 2011. Their first tournament championship came in 1996. They trail county rivals SouthWest Edgecombe by one title. The Cougars have won the tournament four times. The Cougars will also be returning to the tournament for the 19th time this year as well.
The other team coming to play in the tournament that has been in the tournament since it began is the St. Maria Goretti Gaels from Hagerstown, Maryland. The Gaels have never won the classic tournament and are looking to change that this year.
The other three teams that are in the tournament that have played before will be the Winslow Township Eagles from New Jersey, the Jefferson Forest Cavaliers from Virginia and the Lawrence Academy Warriors from Merry Hill, North Carolina. The Warriors have been in the championship game the past two years and have played the host team Tarboiro Vikings each year. The Warriors won the tournament in 2010 when they defeated Tarboro. Tarboro defeated the Warriors in 2011. The Warriors are looking to make it back to the championship game again this year. They have a deep pitching staff with 11 pitchers which none of them are seniors.
The tournament should be well rounded this year. All the teams participating in the tournament are still trying to adjust to the new BBCOR bats that the players had to begin using this year per the high school federation. The BBCOR bats don't have the pop like the bats the players were using in previous years. The home run numbers are way down this year compared to last season at this time in high school baseball. Yes, you still have players hitting home runs, but they are not traveling as far or leaving the ball park as often.
With everything set and ready to go for Wednesday most of the teams are getting prepared and anxious to come and play at the beautiful historical Municipal Stadium.
With the fans of all ages coming to the ballpark to watch four baseball games each day, they will also enjoy the good food that is prepared by the Tarboro High School Athletic Booster Club. The booster club president Charles Johnson and his wife Tracy have everything ready and prepared to go from the cheeseburgers to the hotdogs. They will also have plenty of other choices of food for people to pick from as well.
The tournament kicks off on Wednesday with four games slated. The first game of the day on Wednesday will feature the Padua Bruins playing the Bunn Wildcats at 11 a.m. The second game will be between the Jefferson Forest Cavaliers and the Lawrence Academy Warriors at 1:30 p.m. The third game of the day will be the Winsow Township Eagles playing the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars at 4 p.m. and the last game of the day will be between the St. Maria Goretti Gaels and the Tarboro Vikings at 7 p.m. The Gaels and Vikings have played in the last game of the first day for the last four years. The Gaels head coach Duane Myers requested that the two teams play each other and the request was met.
The admission to each game for adults is $7 per day or you can purchase a three day pass for $18. The price of admission for school aged kids is $5 per day or you may purchase a three day pass for $12. The passes will admit you into the stadium to watch four games a day.
So if you don't have anything planned for the up coming week then come on out to historical Municipal Stadium and enjoy some great high school baseball.