By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — The fourth annual Heartland Baseball Classic didn’t get off to the start officials had hoped for Monday. After an early morning storm, the Southmoore High School diamond was not ready for the opening ceremonies or the accompanying home run derby.
Now, the home run champion will be determined by the player who hits the most home runs during the tournament.
Fans will notice a few changes from past summers. With seven teams participating rather than the customary eight, the Classic has become a round-robin tourney today through Thursday, one in which each team will play every other team once.
The results of the round-robin will determine the seedings of bracket play, which begins Friday, with the third-place game and championship scheduled for noon and 3:30 p.m. at Norman High.
The seven teams that will make up the tournament field include Team Oklahoma, Team Georgia, Team Colorado, Team Arkansas, Team Maryland, Team Ohio and Team Texas.
Team Arizona backed out this summer due to financial issues.
While the format has changed, the talent the teams bring with them has not. Texas has 12 players who have signed to play Division I baseball next season. Some of them include Kramer Robertson (LSU), Josh Sawyer (Villanova) and Ryan Hendrix (Texas A&M).
Ohio is just as stacked with players such as Adam Niemeyer (Ohio State), Griffin Weir (Stanford) and Dan Rowbottom (Illinois).
Joining Southmoore’s Tre Edwards on Team Oklahoma is Joe Smith (Kansas State) and Norman North’s Austin Crawford, who still has his senior year awaiting him with the Timberwolves.
Before heading off to join Arkansas this fall, being able to play for his home state one last time is a special treat for Edwards, especially after all his home town of Moore has been through over the past month due to the May 20th tornado. A silent auction is being held through Thursday, with all proceeds going toward the Southmoore athletic department.
“It’s really a pride thing,” Edwards said. “It’s important not to just have fun in this tourney but also win this for your state. Especially after this tornado. I’m going to try to help bring it back.”