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Bemidji to host Class D North State Tournament

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Area Softball Association (BASA) will host the Minnesota Sports Federation Class D North state championship tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Bemidji City Park fields.

The tournament will feature 31 teams including four from Bemidji. Geographically the teams will range from Cambridge and Albany in the south to Thief River Falls in the north.

Bemidji's representatives will be Division I teams Hardtimes and Papa Murphy's plus Division II squads Undem Law and Coke.

Also registered for the tournament are two Clearbrook teams and two teams from Bagley.

"At the beginning of the year teams designate what class they want to belong to," said David White. league director of the BASA. "This year we have 58 teams in the five Bemidji softball leagues and historically Bemidji teams haven't been 'go getters' in the various state tournaments. But this summer eight of our teams chose to play in the state tournaments."

In addition to the four teams participating in this weekend's tournament in Bemidji, teams sponsored by Lazy Jacks will play in state tournaments in Fosston and Detroit Lakes, Corner Bar will play in a state meet in Stacy and Bessler Brothers is participating in the state women's meet.

The Class D meet is among the most popular state softball tournaments and Bemidji's 31-team event is among the largest tournaments in terms of the number of teams.

"I think it's been at least 15 years since we've hosted a state tournament," said BASA president Travis Malterud. "My hope is that we can host a state tournament every year and maybe even more than one a year.

"I think this weekend will serve as an introduction to our facility."

The softball complex recently was completely gutted and renovated and this summer represents the second season that the complex has been in use.

"Before the new complex was built we never had the appropriate facility to put in a bid for a state tournament," White said. "State officials prefer a complex with a minimum of four fields and they prefer the fields to be symmetrical and have fences at least 285 feet.

"But the biggest obstacles holding us back before were that we didn't have any bathrooms or concession stands," White added.

The new facility addressed those deficiencies and also added some special touches including roofs on the dugouts and extra fencing.

"This is the first large tournament that the Bemidji Area Softball Association has bid for and has had the bid accepted," White said. "We want to make the most of it and promote Bemidji softball and show off our complex and our community."

The tournament should also provide a financial boost to many community businesses.

"When I go out of town for a softball tournament it costs me at least $200," Malterud said. "We will have 27 visiting teams this weekend and each team will probably bring 10 or 12 players."

"And those 10 or 12 players will probably bring a minimum of 10 more people," White added. "Having all of those people in town will be a positive for the community."

The tournament begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and the champion of the double-elimination event will be crowned at 4 p.m. Sunday. Undem Law will open its run to the title at 8 a.m. Saturday against a team from Little Falls. Coke's first game is 9 a.m. Saturday against Clearbrook No. 1 while Papa Murphy's will open 11:25 a.m. Saturday against Staples.

Hardtimes received a first-round bye and will begin its tournament at 10:10 a.m. Saturday against either Thief River Falls or Clearbrook No. 2.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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