LUMBERTON — The baseball fields at the Ray Pennington Athletic Complex will have a different look when the second half of the two-week Dixie Youth World Series kicks off on Friday.
Fences at the park’s six fields have been moved back and mounds have been installed in the infields to accommodate championship tournaments taking place next week in the AAA, Majors and “O”Zone Divisions.
Competitors in those divisions are kids from 9 to 12 years old, an increase from last week’s AA World Series that featured 7 and 8-year-olds.
Tim Clark, the city’s athletic director, helped install a pitcher’s mound on one of the six fields as maintenance workers worked quickly to make sure the facility was ready for the World Series’ first event, a skills competition taking place at 2:30 on Friday.
“It’s been a steady process,” Clark said. “It’s been a lot of work to get everything up to par for the Dixie Youth standards, but our guys have been working hard. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the first World Series. Everyone said we did an awesome job.
“It’s been rewarding even though it’s been hard.”
Because the AA World Series featured Coach Pitch and Machine Pitch games only, mounds were not needed for the first week of the games. The outfield fences at the fields were 180 feet from home plate during the AA World Series, and that distance has been adjusted for the older age group.
The fields hosting the AAA division will have fences 200 feet from the plate, while the Majors will have 225-foot fences and the “O” Zone will play with 230-foot fences.
The pitcher’s mound for the AAA and Majors divisions will be 46 feet from home plate, and the baselines will be 60 feet long. For “O” Zone, the mound will be 50 feet from home plate and the baseline will be 70 feet long.
The divisions will split the complex’s six fields, including one that was recently constructed in order to meet Dixie Youth host specifications.
All of the fields were affected by thunderstorms that soaked the facility throughout the AA World Series. Maintenance crews working on the newest field, which was not utilized during the AA tournaments, had to use more than 60 bags of Quick Dry in order to get it ready for fence installation and other final preparations on Wednesday and Thursday.
“It’s a lot of work in a short period of time to transition from the Coach Pitch and Machine Pitch World Series to this one, only because we have to move fences back and build mounds,” Clark said. “Normally we would like a little more time, but we have three days to get it done.
“Our maintenance guys have done a wonderful job getting it done. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to have a successful World Series.”
The skills competition begins at 2:30 p.m., on Friday at the Pennington Athletic Complex. It will be followed by an opening ceremony at the Lumberton High School football field at 7:30 p.m.
Games will begin on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. AAA games will be played on 1 and 2, Majors will be played on Fields 5 and 6 and the “O” Zone will be played on Fields 3 and 4.