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Junior Sunbelt Classic

Some of the top baseball prospects in North American will converge on the area in the coming weeks for the Junior Sunbelt Classic.

The six-day tournament is set to return for its 21st annual installment, opening play on Friday at Mike Deak Baseball Stadium in McAlester and Eastern Oklahoma State College’s Mountaineer Baseball Field in Wilburton, with two Oklahoma teams and teams from Canada, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, Tennesse, and defending-champion Texas.

McAlester Dugout Club communications director Nicole Green said the event continues to grow each year.

“We’re working to get it back to what it used to be,” Green said. “There has been a lot of community interest in the last few years and this tournament is still a big deal.”

But the McAlester Dugout Club — which hosts and runs the tournament — still needs families to host future pros.

“We have local families basically adopt two players for a week and we need about three more families,” Green said.

Players will meet their “adoptive” families at the kickoff banquet for the tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Southeast Expo Center of McAlester.

Banquet tickets are $5 per person, which includes dinner, player introductions and a presentation by this year’s speaker, former Oklahoma State head baseball coach Gary Ward. Ward coached at Oklahoma State from 1978 to 1996, when he compiled a record of 953-313-1 and won 17 Big Eight Conference championships—including 16 consecutive title from 1980 to 1996.

Tournament play will open at 9 a.m. on Friday at both Mike Deak Stadium in McAlester and Mountaineer Baseball Field in Wilburton.