WALLA WALLA — If there was any doubt as to the turnout to be expected at the 2013 American Legion Class AA state tournament, which began Saturday and runs through Thursday, Friday night’s bar-be-cue likely settled those.
Close to 500 fans, players and family members here to watch the tournament, which Walla Walla is hosting for the first time, crammed into Borleske Stadium to attend the kickoff feast.
“All the teams earned their way here, so there’s very strong fan support,” tournament chairman Brian Kitamura said. “All the games are streamed over Pointstreak live (http://bit.ly/14b1tZR), and ... it’s especially important because there’s no national or regional tournament, this is it. And teams have been working hard all year to get here.”
Include Walla Walla as one of those teams who strove for a spot at the table. Despite being guaranteed a tourney berth as the host, the Bruins (34-6) decimated their foes at the district tournament, also held in Walla Walla, and continued that domination with a 14-2 win over Colville Saturday.
The state tournament is being played at three locations, Murr Sports Park, Walla Walla Community College’s field, and Borleske. The double elimination tourney concludes with the championship game Thursday at Borleske.
Although the Bruins, the Class A Griz, and the independent Bears all host their own 16-team tourneys, the state tournament brings higher fan attendance and extra logistical challenges. In all, Kitamura said close to 400 volunteers are needed to put the tournament on — doing things like running the scoreboards, manning the gates, and maintaining the fields — and local businesses stepped up with in-kind donations and sponsorships.
“It really has (stepped up),” Kitamura said. “The community has been great.”