By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
An annual springtime occurrence in the two Virginias is the Coppinger Invitational Baseball Tournament. Associated with the Coppinger for most of its 40 years has been rain. It’s unavoidable. No one can control Mother Nature.
Friday the skies opened and forced postponement of the opening game between Bluefield and Montcalm. That game has been moved to 4 this afternoon.
In addition, today’s 10 a.m. game between Fayetteville and Summers County, originally scheduled for Hunnicutt Field in Princeton, has been moved to Bowen Field in Bluefield.
The only game slated for Hunnicutt Field now will take place at 1 p.m. featuring James Monroe and Liberty Raleigh.
In Tazewell game times have been pushed back as a result of the weather. River View and PikeView will now play at 4 p.m. and Tazewell will take on Mount View at 6.
The only game that has not had its time and/or location affected by the weather is the Grundy-Nicholas County tilt at 1 p.m. at Bowen Field.
Just think, all these changes were made before a pitch was thrown in the 40th annual Coppinger.
Here is a look at first round games scheduled for today in Bluefield, Tazewell and Princeton.
FAYETTEVILLE PIRATES vs. SUMMERS COUNTY BOBCATS, 10 a.m. at Bowen Field — The Pirates and Bobcats are no strangers to the Coppinger. Fayetteville is 10-10 this season and has two wins over the Bobcats, 7-6 and 12-0. Summers County claimed the championship in 1997 and ‘98 and come into this year’s event with a 4-13 record. The Bobcats are riding a two-game winning streak, having beaten Meadow Bridge and James Monroe in their last two outings.
JAMES MONROE MAVERICKS vs. LIBERTY (RALEIGH) RAIDERS, 1 p.m. at Hunnicutt Field — James Monroe begins tournament play with a 4-6 mark and wins over three teams in the Coppinger field, Bluefield, PikeView and Mount View twice. The Mavericks have lost a pair of games to AAA Woodrow Wilson and a tough Independence team. Liberty has the best record of any team in the tournament, 11-1. The Raiders’ lone loss was by one run to Valley Fayette. Liberty has beaten defending AA champion Wyoming East, PikeView and AAA Lewis County and Oak Hill.
GRUNDY GOLDEN WAVE vs. NICHOLAS COUNTY GRIZZLIES, 1 p.m. at Bowen Field — The Golden Wave defeated Black Diamond District foe Hurley, Thursday, to move to improve to 4-5. Nicholas County, who lost several key players to graduation, come into Coppinger play with a 7-7 mark. This is the Grizzlies first year as a Class AA team.
BLUEFIELD BEAVERS vs. MONTCALM GENERALS, 4 p.m. at Bowen Field — The Montcalm Generals are making their first ever appearance in the Coppinger. The Generals, 5-7, beat Graham 17-4, Thursday night in the Yo-Na Tournament in Bastian, Va. Bluefield has played in every Coppinger Tournament and was champion in 1977. The Beavers are coming off a tough 5-4 loss Thursday night at PikeView and have a record of 5-10.
RIVER VIEW RAIDERS vs. PIKEVIEW PANTHERS, 4 p.m. at Lou Peery Field — River View in its third year of existence is playing in its first Coppinger. The Raiders, under first year coach Jerad Metcalm are 6-4. PikeView enters the game 12-6, but only two of those losses are to West Virginia schools and both are in the Coppingr, James Monroe and Librety. The Panthers dropped four games to out-of-state teams on its trip to Myrtle Beach over spring break.
TAZEWELL BULLDOGS vs. MOUNT VIEW GOLDEN KNIGHTS, 6 p.m. at Lou Peery Field — The final game of the opening round pits the teams that have won the most Coppinger championships. Tazewell has won seven times, the most recent in 2010 and Mount View has been victorious five times, the most recent in 1996. Both teams are rebuilding this season. Tazewell comes into the game with a 1-6 record, while Mount View is 3-8.
Teams that have won the last two Coppingers, Princeton and Tazewell, both get first round byes. Princeton, the defending champion, will play the Bluefield-Montcalm winner on Monday, while Richlands, winners two seasons ago, will play the Liberty-James Monroe victor on Tuesday.
After today’s opening round games, remaining games are scheduled to be played at Bluefield’s Bowen Field with quarterfinal games on Monday and Tuesday at 5 and 7 p.m.
The semifinals are set for next Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m., with the championship game slated for 7 o’clock.