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Northeast Park to host qualifier

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
June 6, 2002
The Northeast Softball Complex at Meridian's Northeast Park will be the site for the 14-and-under ASA Fast-Pitch National Qualifier beginning Friday and running through Sunday.
Twelve teams from five southern states will be vying for a berth to the ASA National Tournament set for July 29-August 4 in Columbus, Ga.
Clarkdale head girls softball coach Rick Roberson, who is the district commissioner for the Mississippi Amateur Softball Association, said the tournament was awarded to Northeast Park even though Meridian will not have a team entered in the event.
Only two of the 12 teams will come from Mississippi. They are the Hamilton Electric Gin out of the Tupelo area and the Mossy Oak Diamond Dreams from the Caledonia area.
Four games will begin play on Friday night at 8 p.m. The Texas Sox will take on the New Orleans Voodoo in one game. Other first round match-ups pit Hamilton against the Louisiana Stringers; the Louisiana Blaze against East Cobb Bullets (Ga.) and the Texas Outlaws against the Alabama Quest.
The Louisiana Patriots, Collins Hill (Ga.) Lady Eagles, the Birmingham Vipers and Mossy Oak all drew byes to the second round. The finals are set for Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.
Roberson said the primary reason why Meridian was unable to place a team in the field was because of pitching depth.
The veteran coach, who helped lead Clarkdale to the Class 1A-2A State title this spring, said much of the area's talent lies in the upper age brackets.
There are plans in the works to help improve the level of fast-pitch play. A machine-pitch league will begin for young girls after the conclusion of slow pitch league play. Another plan is for a league comprised of high school and junior varsity players.