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NAYO tourney starts Friday

The cities of Atmore and Poarch will welcome almost 60 baseball and softball teams for a nation-wide tournament this weekend.

The Native American Youth Organization (NAYO) will have its 2015 tournaments for 7/8-year-old softball, 9/10-year-old softball, 11/12-year-old softball, 13-to-15-year-old softball, 16/17-year-old softball, 7/8-year-old baseball, 9/10-year-old baseball, 11/12-year-old baseball, 13-to-15-year-old baseball and 16/17-year-old baseball. All games have free admission, and will be played either at the Poarch athletics complex, or at Atmore’s Tom Byrne Field.

The NAYO includes teams representing a variety of Indian tribes, including states as far away as New York. There will be a total of eight teams from Poarch, and the remaining 51 are from out of town.

Because of the size of the tournament, Atmore’s Tom Byrne Park is hosting some of the games in the baseball competitions.

Murray Johnson, who oversees the city’s Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth League, said that Poarch is an important part of the league and Atmore is happy to partner with Poarch for the NAYO tournament hosting duties. Atmore’s league will only receive proceeds from concession sales, Johnson said — the league is not charging for the field use, nor charging an admission fee for spectators.

“They should be some great games to watch, and the nice thing is
that there’s no admission,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of people who will be coming to town for this event, and they’re staying at our hotels and spending money at our businesses, so it’s a great thing for the city.”

Johnson said the league last partnered with an NAYO spring sports competition in 2004.

Tom Byrne Park will be hosting Friday’s games in the 9/10-year-old baseball and 11/12-year-old baseball competitions, and may host more games if needed. The first games of the NAYO tournaments will start at 8 a.m. Friday, and play will continue all day Friday and Saturday.

The opening games for Poarch teams are:

• 7/8 softball (Field 4, Poarch) — Friday, 12:30 p.m., Poarch vs. Bruisers.

• 9/10 softball (Field 2, Poarch) — Friday, 8 a.m., Poarch vs. Sweet Heat.

• 11/12 softball (Field 3, Poarch) — Friday, 11 a.m., Poarch vs. Pretty Wild.

• 13-to-15 softball (Field 1, Poarch) — Friday, 2 p.m., Poarch vs. winner of Rezcats/Native Heat.

• 7/8 baseball (Little baseball field, Poarch) — Friday, 12:30 p.m., Poarch vs. Heaters.

• 9/10 baseball (Field 1, Tom Byrne Park) — Friday, 9 a.m., Poarch vs. Cherokee Warriors.

• 11/12 baseball (Field 2, Tom Byrne Park) — Friday, 11 a.m., Poarch vs. MBCI Crushers.

• 13-to-15 baseball (Big baseball field, Poarch) — Friday, 10 a.m., Poarch vs. Dirtbags.