Majors set for 'toughest tournament'

Enid Majors’ Connor Gore connects on a base hit against Shockers Black during the Connie Mack State Tournament July 15, 2020, at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. 

ENID, Okla. — The Enid Majors will embark into uncharted territory when they travel to this week’s Connie Mack Classic. But, then again, so will the other 27 teams in the seven-pool baseball tournament that starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

By virtue of the Majors’ first-ever South Plains Regional championship earlier this month, they will have a chance to compete for their first national championship since winning the American Legion World Series in 2005. However, their trek as regional champs normally would have had them traveling to Farmington, N.M., for the annual Connie Mack World Series this week, but for the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to its other coronavirus restrictions, New Mexico is currently requiring any visitors entering the state to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of entry or for the duration of their stay in the state, whichever is shorter. That meant the end of any possible postseason Connie Mack tournaments in the “Land of Enchantment,” and the shift to the current sites of the newly christened Connie Mack Classic in Pittsbug, Kan., and Joplin, Mo.

However, that hasn’t meant coronavirus hasn’t impacted other teams’ ability to travel to the new destination. One team from New York had to cancel because it would have been forced to quarantine for 14 days upon its return.

Despite the upheaval, there will be plenty of familiar teams joining the Majors, including the powerhouse Texas teams from Dallas and elsewhere in the Lone Star state. The field includes several D-BAT (Texas) teams, the DFW Twins and Texas STIX.

Oklahoma teams beside the Majors will include the OK Drillers, OK Sandlot and OK Fuel.

The Majors will be competing in Pool C with Ropes Florence (McKinney, Texas), CCBA 2021 also out of McKinney, Texas, and Prime Cavemen-Garcia from Kennedale, Texas.

Majors head coach Kris Webb acknowledged the Majors will be facing some heady competition in the Connie Mack Classic.

“The Connie Mack Classic is going to be the toughest tournament I’ve probably ever been a part of,” he said. “One thousand percent this is a tough tournament.”

Webb said he plans to “boost” the Majors’ roster a bit “and hopefully add a few arms and give us a chance like we did (during the South Plains Regional).”

The Majors (22-4) are coming into the tournament off a third-place finish in the recently completed Connie Mack Oklahoma State Tournament. Their South Plains Regional win also brought with it some financial benefit as the $1,695 team entry fee was covered as part of winning the regional championship.

Webb said he is expecting most of his roster to travel to the Connie Mack Classic.

“As of right now, everybody I’ve talked to, everybody is confirmed,” he said, noting one or two players may not be able to make it due to previous commitments. “For the most part, our roster is going to be intact and beefed up.”

That could also mean a couple of Enid Plainsmen will be joining the Majors. He said Plainsmen freshman Garrett Shull has accepted an invitation and there could be others.

The Majors open play on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Wendell Redden Athletic Complex in Joplin, Mo., against CCBA 2021. On Thursday they move over to Pittsburg, Kan., at Pittsburg State University to take on Prime Cavemen-Garcia at 4:30 p.m., and wrap up pool play at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Joe Becker Stadium back in Joplin.

The top two teams in each pool will advance to a 14-team seeded single-elimination bracket starting Saturday with a champion to be crowned on Sunday.

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

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