Petal hosts Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth State Tournament

The combination of Independence Day and baseball is as American as you can get, or as District 8 Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth Commissioner Chad Rainey would say, "Baseball on the Fourth of July, that's the only way we'd have it."

Youth players from around the state are gathering in Petal this weekend for the state tournament for the opportunity to advance to the regional rounds. Tony Stephens, Petal Optimist Club President, was enthused to be a part of the great American pastime.

"They come out there, it's been a tradition to play baseball on the 4th of July and we love it," Stephens said. "We've got great weather today so it's great having these guys out here."

Rainey added that they are more than honored to help kids in Mississippi play the game they love.

"You can't have a volunteer organization without volunteers. None of us get paid for these roles that we're in. We do it for the kids number one, number two for the passion of the game."

Stephens said the kids' enthusiasm is a big reason he and the other coaches keep coming back year after year.

"It's just great to see them come out and compete. The competitive nature of the kids is great. We love it. I wouldn't rather be anywhere else than right there." 

This is the first time the tournament has been hosted in Petal and Rainey said it will be a success because of everyone involved.

"[Petal Recreation Director] Tom Hardges and his group of employees really put on a first class facility for us here with the maintenance of the grounds. The Petal Optimist Club, these guys for all their help coming together and staffing the event accordingly, that's the only way we make it a successful weekend."

Updated with correct quotes and titles.