After a successful year with B.B. Comer serving as the primary host, the Ron Johnson Classic returns to Wyatt Field again this year.
Last season’s winner wasn’t able to participate in this year’s tournament, along with the Fayetteville Wolves.
“We would have loved to have kept Childersburg and Fayetteville in it, but we just had some scheduling conflicts,” B.B. Comer head coach Evan Blair explained. “We weren’t able to find other schools late. We’re glad to have the schools that are still in it. Hopefully, we can get it back to where we have a few more in it next year. We’re excited about having it at Comer again.”
Last season’s runner-up will be back this year, along with host team Comer, and participants from last year, Talladega and Coosa-Central.
“We drew Coosa-Central in the County Tournament the other week,” Blair said. “They’ve got a really good team this year, Talladega is 5A, and Munford is good year after year. Coach (Noel) Stephens does a good job with them. I don’t know—because I haven’t seen Munford and Talladega this year—how evenly matched everybody is, but just on paper I think it’s a lot of evenly matched teams. It should be some pretty good baseball games.”
Last season’s tournament had strong turnout with many from the local community in attendance at Wyatt Field for the final games played on Saturday. Childersburg ended up defeating Munford in the championship game, 6-5.
With the heavy rain on Thursday, it is unlikely any games will be played today. Coosa-Central will play at Comer at 4 p.m. if the weather permits play. Four games are scheduled at Comer for Saturday with weather forecasts calling for sunny weather. Saturday’s game schedule at Wyatt Field includes: Munford at Comer, 10 a.m.; Munford vs. Coosa-Central, 12:30 p.m.; Talladega vs. Coosa-Central, 3 p.m.; and Talladega at Comer, 5:30 p.m.
Blair said having a respected name attached to the tournament is one of the main reasons the tournament garners such support last year.
“I think it’s two things: I think it’s the schools we picked to play, it’s kind of like a modified County Tournament with some of the schools in it from around here,” he said. “Secondly, I think it’s just getting Mr. Johnson’s name out there. He’s been a Representative so long that when people see that on the schedule or hear it and they want to be involved in it.”
Blair said Johnson has expressed early excitement about this year’s tournament.
“He’s already been in touch with me and I’ve been in touch with him,” Blair said. “He’s got the schedule and wants to know what time all the games are. I think he’s planning on staying over there most of the day Saturday. If we can get the field dry, he’ll be over there Friday, too.”
Last year, Johnson presented Childersburg with the championship trophy and was formally recognized by the tournament’s organizers. Blair said there is no doubt Johnson will be recognized again this year.
“Whether it’s coming out for the first game or waiting to see how everybody does and come out and hand out a trophy or something like that, we’ll be sure we get him recognized and let everybody know he’s there and thank him for everything he has done,” Blair said.
With the Talladega County Tournament usually being held around the second week of the season, the Ron Johnson Classic offers a chance for teams to play participants from the Talladega County Tournament while having a stronger team identity.
“We play the County Tournament so early every year; you try to feel things out and settle some holes you may have and stuff like that,” Blair said. “It’s kind of like a second chance to turn around and let some of the guys that may not have played too well a couple of weeks ago or let some of your pitchers that kind of got thrown in the fire have another chance to come out there and throw against some local teams on not a whole lot of rest and things like that. In the end, it’s just tuning all of us up for region play, which is coming up and that’s what we all try to get ready for anyway.”