When one looks at the 2012 LeFlore County Baseball Tournament bracket, one of the biggest things which is noticed is that there are only 11 teams in the field and not the customary 13.
The reason is quite simple.
This year's tournament host was Arkoma, but due to lack of facilities and staff members to staff two sites for the first two days, it had to give up on the chance to be the host school.
“We're sharing the field with our softball team,” Arkoma Baseball Coach Mark Weatherton said. “We have no parking whatsoever. We didn't have the faculty available to cover the gate and run the concession stands at two sites (for the first two days). (Arkoma Superintendent) Dr. (John) Turner asked me if I wanted to host it, and I told him that I really didn't want to. We don't have the facilities or the teachers.”
From what this humble LeFlore County newcomer (mind you, I've only been here since June 28, 2010) could ascertain, the “rule of thumb” is when a school passes on its opportunity to host a county tournament, it goes to the next one. However, that's not apparently what happened.
“I didn't even find out until basketball season when (Pocola Coach) Eddie Combs was refereeing a game, and he asked me, 'Why did you give the county tournament to Spiro?' Weatherton said. “I found out that Spiro asked Dr. Turner if we were wanting to host it, and he said that we weren't. He said Spiro asked if they could host it, Dr. Turner gave it to them. We probably messed that up, but we haven't been in this situation before. I thought there would have been a meeting where this would have been discussed, but I've never been involved in something like this.”
So, most of the schools were going to boycott the tournament. But in the end, two of them “stuck to their guns.”
“When it was first all coming about, there were only about four teams who were still in it,” Talihina Coach Jon Bradberry said. “But (Whitesboro Coach) Bryan (Cartwright) and I were the only ones who stuck to our guns. I know it's the County Tournament, but it's really not that big of a deal.
“It was not handled right,” Cartwright said. “It should have gone to Bokoshe. If they didn't want it, then it should have gone to Cameron. In all likeihood, it would have been at Cameron.”
So, the Golden Tigers and the Bulldogs are playing other people, and Talihina has actually found itself a different tournament.
“It only took me one day to find a tournament, the Atoka Tournament,” Bradberry said.
There's another drawback to the county tournament, especially if your team is eliminated early on.
“If you get beat out right off the bat, you're wasting a week of baseball when you could be playing baseball,” Bradberry said.
So, I guess you can say that this year's event won't be crowning a true county champion since not all 13 teams are in the field. What will next year hold in store, when (as of all indication) Bokoshe will be the host team for the 2013 Leflore County Tournament? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.