Dunn preps to host latest state baseball tournament

By DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 6/18/22

What’s become almost an annual summer tradition in Dunn, this year’s Fourth of July festivities will again serve as a perfect setup for the Dixie Youth Baseball Division II State Tournament.

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Dunn preps to host latest state baseball tournament

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DUNN — What’s become almost an annual summer tradition in Dunn, this year’s Fourth of July festivities will again serve as a perfect setup for the Dixie Youth Baseball Division II State Tournament.

Brian McNeill, director at Dunn’s Parks and Recreation organization, has his staff carrying a routine disposition in preparation for the seventh time hosting a DYB state tourney.

“It’s gotten to that point where we have such a great reputation and relationship, between parks and rec and the booster club, they (DYB) approach us now for the tournament,” McNeill said of the games that run July 8 through 15.   

The bid process begins every fall. All of the bids go to the DYB board, made up of state and national directors who decide the host sites and announce them in January.

DYB North Carolina National Director Jay Hardison gave a special shout-out to the Dunn booster club, and hard work of McNeill’s staff, for setting a sturdy tradition that has the city hosting its third event in the last four years.

“Dunn does such a great job. The town enjoys having people come and visit ... it brings a lot of revenue,” said Hardison, who also serves as DYB director for District 11, which includes Dunn and Lillington.    

Unlike last summer, this year’s tourney features 23 teams divided into AAA (10 and under) and Majors (12u) brackets. Only one AAA team, and two Majors squads, advance to represent North Carolina at the DYB Division II World Series that starts July 29 in Anderson, South Carolina.

Another new wrinkle will be the site of Friday’s opening ceremony, slated at a spruced up Clarence Lee Tart Memorial Park while the games will be played at Tyler Park for a fifth time.

“That helps us out a lot, too, because we can have one park already ready for the following day while we got opening ceremonies going on,” McNeill said.

“It’ll get the word out and give people a firsthand view of what changes we made.”

He added that though visitors are used to dropping by Tart for practice before the upgrades, they’re in store for what should be a pleasant surprise.

Part of a $2.97 million project, the renovations include a brand new control tower that overlooks all four ball fields, complete with a press box, concessions and restrooms. Meanwhile, sophisticated MUSCO lighting systems and shaded bleachers surround the chainlink-fenced fields.

Above all, local officials are looking forward to a favorable forecast when the nearly 300 players and coaches stroll into town as last year’s opening festivities were canceled due to rain storms.

“Once the tournament gets here, I’m praying for some dry weather,” he said with a chuckle

Motivational speaker and former NFL player Leonard Henry, along with DYB state director Carey Wrenn, are among those expected to be in attendance on July 8.

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2040.

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