LaGrange hosting baseball tournament
Published 12:23 am Thursday, March 2, 2017
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – It’s back.
After a year’s absence, the LaGrange Toyota Invitational has returned, with eight teams set to participate in the three-day tournament that gets under way today.
The tournament is being hosted by LaGrange High, and games will be played at Granger Park and LaGrange College.
The eight teams will be divided into two four-team pools, and the top finishers from each pool will meet in the championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Each of the teams will play four games, including a place game on Saturday.
The teams are coming from four different states, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
The eight teams are LaGrange, Houston County, Locust Grove, Caledonia (Miss.), Central-Phenix City (Ala.), Decatur (Ala.), Evangel Christiam Academy (La.), and Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.).
LaGrange is in a four-team pool along with Decatur, Houston County and Hewitt-Trussville, and the other pool includes Central-Phenix City, Evangel, Caledonia and Locust Grove.
The Grangers will bring a 4-2 record into the tournament.
LaGrange won its first four games before falling to Mill Creek and Lambert.
After the four tournament games, LaGrange will play three more games before beginning its Region 5-AAAA schedule against Cedartown.
The Grangers will have played an extremely challenging schedule before they jump into region play.
“It’s good to prepare us for region, because it’s going to be really tough,” LaGrange coach David Smart said. “We’ve got to prepare ourselves for that. Of course you want to win them, but if you drop them you’ve got to learn something from them. You get up, and you fix some things, and we learned some things today that we need to get better at. So we’ll bounce back.”
Today’s game will be a tough one for the Grangers.
Decatur (2-1) has a number of college signees, including Tanner Burns, a shortstop and pitcher who has signed with Auburn.
On Friday, LaGrange will play Houston County (1-3), which beat East Paulding 8-3 last week to get its first victory of the season.
Houston County won a state championship last season, although some of the top players from that team have graduated, including soon-to-be University of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm.
Saturday’s opponent for LaGrange will be Hewitt-Trussville, which won a state championship in Alabama’s last season.
Among the teams on the other side of the bracket is Central-Phenix City, which is under the direction of long-time Columbus High coach Bobby Howard.
Locust Grove will give the tournament yet another defending state champion.
A year ago, Locust Grove beat Buford to claim the Class AAAA championship.
This year’s Locust Grove team appears poised to make another strong run at a title with a loaded roster that includes numerous college signees.
Earlier this week, Locust Grove beat Buford 6-2 in a championship rematch.
Caledonia, which reached the second round of the state tournament in Mississippi last year, will bring a strong team to the tournament, as will Evangel.
LaGrange, Caledonia (Miss.), Central-Phenix City (Ala.), Decatur (Ala.), Evangel Christian (La.), Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.), Houston County and Locust Grove.
Hewitt Trusville vs Houston County at Granger Park, 4 p.m.
Central-Phenix City vs. Locust Grove at LaGrange College, 4 p.m.
LaGrange vs. Decatur at LaGrange High, 7 p.m.
Evangel vs. Locust Grove at Granger Park, 4 p.m.
Decatur vs. Hewitt-Trussville at LaGrange College, 4 p.m.
LaGrange vs. Houston County at Granger Park, 7 p.m.
Central-Phenix vs. Caledonia at LaGrange College, 7 p.m.
LaGrange vs. Hewitt-Trussville at Granger Park, 10 a.m.
Caledonia vs. Locust Grove at LaGrange College, 10 a.m.
Central-Phenix vs. Evangel at Granger Park, 12:30 p.m.
Decatur vs. Houston County at LaGrange College, 12:30 p.m.
Seventh-place game at Granger Park, 4 p.m.
Fifth-place game at LaGrange College, 4 p.m.
Third-place game at Granger Park, 7 p.m.
Championship game at LaGrange College, 7 p.m.