Mother Nature accomplished something the rest of the baseball teams in the American Southwest Conference were unable to — prevent the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets from hosting the ASC tournament at Don Shepard Park.
Thunderstorms that began during Thursday's Blue Bracket-opening game between UT-Dallas and Louisiana College lingered all afternoon. The first game was not completed, the 3 p.m. Howard Payne-LeTourneau contest never started, and the entire tournament was moved to Foster Field in San Angelo as Don Shepard Park was drenched.
“It's disappointing because we wanted to be able to showcase our program and our campus to the community and the ASC,” said Hunter Sims, Howard Payne Director of Athletics and a former graduate assistant at Angelo State. “With the pods it's nice because we still have an opportunity to host the true championship next weekend. But I want to give a big thank you to James Reed, the athletic director at Angelo State. Had Angelo not been so gracious, I don't know what the answer to this weekend would have been.”
The tournament will resume at 1 p.m. Friday with the completion of the UT-Dallas-Louisiana College game. At 3 p.m., Howard Payne and LeTourneau will square off and at 7 p.m. the losers of the first two games will meet in an elimination contest.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the winners of the first two games will battle for a berth in Sunday's 1 p.m. championship game. The loser of the 2 p.m. Saturday game will face the winner of Friday's 7 p.m. tilt in a 6 p.m. Saturday elimination contest, with the winner earning the second championship game berth. If a second championship game is needed Sunday, it will immediately follow the first.
For all those who purchased baseball tournament passes, they will be honored at Foster Field in San Angelo, Sims said.
All teams were planning to stay in Brownwood Thursday night, and Howard Payne reserved hotel rooms in San Angelo for the three remaining teams the rest of the weekend.
Also Thursday night, all four teams were planning to gather for a night of worship, Sims said. The City of Brownwood and City of Early donated goodie bags for every participant in the tournament, and a player from each team was going to present a devotional.
The Red Bracket at Concordia also experienced weather issues, but with a turf field and lights no change of venue was required. East Texas Baptist defeated Hardin-Simmons, 4-2, in the opener after a lengthy weather delay. Concordia and Sul Ross were slated to play later Thursday night.
The winners of the two pods will meet in a best of three game series May 9-11 at the site of the highest remaining seed for the ASC championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.