Brian Johnson Special Correspondent
The Beast of the East Slow Pitch Softball Tournament has certainly grown into a beast, both literally and figuratively.
In what is the largest field ever with 20 teams, the Beast of the East Tournament, with a double-elimination format, is scheduled to open up today at 2 p.m. at Stonewall High School, with the finals set for Saturday at 6:45 p.m. A 7:45 p.m. contest will follow if needed on Saturday.
“It’s a tournament with a great atmosphere, great coaches and great teams,” said Stonewall head coach Brian Davis.
The field surpasses the number of entrants from the previous two years at 17 each.
Of the 20 teams in the field, 15 are ranked from Class 5A down to Class A. In fact, six of the teams are ranked in the top five in the state in their respective classes. Seven more are ranked in the top 10, and three more are rated in the top 20.
The ranked teams in 5A include Sulphur, Holdenville and Henryetta. In Class 4A, Konawa is ranked in the top five, Silo and Latta are ranked in the top 10 and Colbert is in the top 20. Tushka and Rattan are in the top five, and Caddo is in the top 20 of Class 3A.
In Class 2A, host Stonewall and Roff are in the top five, and Maud and Stuart are in the top 10. Asher is in the top five of Class A, and Tupelo is in the top 10 of that class.
“People like to say that this is where statebound teams come to compete. There will be some teams who will be two and done and likely end up in the state tournament,” Davis said. “If you make it to Saturday, you have really accomplished something.”
The tournament has built such a reputation that Ada Dodge will be a corporate sponsor for the event.
“They call it the Beast of the East for a reason. State champions have come out of this tournament two out of the last three years,” said Davis, whose Lady Longhorns enter the tournament with an 8-3 record.
Davis has been pleased with the play of his youthful Stonewall squad heading into the tournament.
“This is a great group to coach. They’re hungry and have a lot of ingredients for a team primed to make a great playoff run,” Davis said.