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One positive way to look at the field for the 10th Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational Softball Tournament is that three-time winner West Johnston is not in the six-team field.
The softball event takes on a different format for 2008, with two three-team pools set to determine who plays for the tournament title next Monday at 7 p.m. at West Brunswick High School.
The 12-game tournament has been squeezed into two days, wrapped around Easter Sunday.
Play gets under way Saturday at 9 a.m. with games scheduled every two hours. Each team will play twice Saturday, then once on Monday before being slotted for the fifth, third and championship games later that day.
Teams entered are the three Brunswick County schools, which have been lopped into one pool, East Bladen, Bishop Ireton from Alexandria, Va., and Smithfield Selma.
Ireton has been the runner-up in the last two tournaments. The Lady Cardinals have 11 players returning from
last year’s squad, including six starters. Ireton won the title in 2001 and 2003.
All three Brunswick schools could figure in the title chase. North Brunswick won the first two Beach Diamond titles in 1999 and 2000 while West Brunswick took the championship home in 2002.
West’s Lady Trojans are off to a fast start as are North’s Lady Scorpions. And West and South just went 13 innings recently in a tune-up for the event.
“North and South are good teams,” West Brunswick coach Joe Noble said. “And Bishop Ireton is always good. East Bladen, they’ve been right in the (Class 1A) Eastern semifinals every year, so they’re a good team. I don’t know about Smithfield Selma. But they are a 4A school, so I imagine they’re going to be tough.
“There’s a shot a (Brunswick County team) could win it. South’s not as strong as they were last year, but they’re a scrappy team. They’ll grind out a run or two here and there and try and play good defense. North’s not as good defensively, but they’ve got a good hitting team.”