Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 3, 2014

Yo-Na returns to Bastian for 5th year

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The Coppinger isn’t the only game in town over the next seven days.

The Yo-Na Invitational is back for a fifth straight year, providing a tournament option for small schools that rarely get the opportunity to play in a larger event, such as the Coppinger, which begins its 41st year tonight.

“We are happy it is going,” Bland County baseball coach Norman Dillow said. “We are excited to get it rolling Saturday morning.

“We have got some new teams coming in and there should be some good games like there normally is.”

The Yo-Na is an eight-team tournament that is played at Skip Dillow Field in Bastian. There will be four games on Saturday, followed by two each on Monday through Thursday of the following week.

The final four games, including the championship will be played on April 12.

The pool play format, in which all teams get at least four games is a definite drawing card for the event.

“The Virginia schools like that because we are limited to 20 games so that way you can go ahead and know you are playing four and not lose games on your schedule,” Dillow said.

Included in the field are seven small schools from Virginia, along with Montcalm, which is playing in the Coppinger opener tonight against Bluefield, and will open the Yo-Na on Saturday with George Wythe at 11 a.m.

The rest of Saturday’s schedule includes Rural Retreat playing Craig County, Castlewood matching up with Eastern Montgomery, and Bland County taking on Hurley at around 6:30 p.m.

Bland County (1-2-1) will enter having tied Graham 3-3 on Thursday when the game was called by darkness.

“I am excited about it if we were hitting the ball a little bit better,” said Dillow, with a smile. “I am a little worried with that.”

None of the four past champions — Narrows, River View, Northwood or Holston will be back — largely because of new VHSL realignment, and Virginia schools being limited to just 20 games.

“It is good to have some different teams to come into the mix because you are going to see some matchups you normally wouldn’t see,” Dillow said. “We hated that we lost Holston and Northwood, they were real good teams for us and they were always competitive, but with the new realignment in Virginia, it made it impossible for them to continue playing,”

The admission cost each day is $5, concessions are available, and the facility itself is one of the better diamonds for baseball in the area.

“Absolutely, we are real happy with it,” Dillow said. “We are happy that we continue to have teams that want to get into it so when we do lose somebody we have somebody to take their place.

“The crowds have been good and the games have been excellent. We always have some exciting games in it so we are real happy with the way it has worked out.”

As for a favorite among the eight teams, Dillow isn’t picking anyone.

“I would say this year is probably more wide open than it has ever been,” Dillow said. “There is a couple of teams in it I am not real familiar with, I know about what to expect from them.

“Ones that we don’t see up this way, they are going to be a little bit of a surprise, but I think anybody can win it this year,”

That includes the Bears.   

“I would love to see Bland win one,’ said Dillow, with a smile, “but there is guaranteed to be a new winner this year because none of them four are still in it,” Dillow said.

—Contact Brian Woodson

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