CRESTVIEW — The Crestview High School gray baseball team takes on Baker next week during the 19th Annual Justin Richards Scholarship Tournament.
Admission to the tourney — which starts 9 a.m. Thursday and concludes with the 7 p.m. championship game Saturday at the Crestview High School baseball complex — is $5 a person each day.
This year’s tournament — the longest continuously running high school baseball tournament in Okaloosa County — features teams from Baker, Choctawhatchee, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Freeport and Northview, along with the Red and Gray teams from host Crestview.
“There are not a lot of tournaments out there in general, but this one has been around a while,” Bulldog Coach Tim Gillis said. “We get all the county schools that participate every year. Everybody loves the tournament and what it stands for.
The tournament's proceeds fund a scholarship honoring Justin Richards, a former Bulldog baseball player who died in a car accident his senior year on the day he signed a baseball scholarship.
Baker was a surprise winner of last year’s tournament and Gillis is anxious to reclaim the championship trophy for the home team.
“I thought Baker played great last year and they deserved to win that tournament,” he said. We had a great run ... We had nine games with all of our players.
“Obviously, that puts you in a bind, pitching-wise, because you spread pitching pretty thin, but it did us a lot of good. It did Baker a lot of good too. But we want to get back on the winning end of it for sure.”
Gillis said the summer in general and the tournament in particular can help some players secure a spot on the team or in the starting lineup
“The summer gives me the opportunity to kind of evaluate guys a little more in depth situations,” he said. Games during the summer might kind of be a little bit different, but a tournament game is more intense and it helps me have an idea of what we are going to start the season with at least next year.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.