Postseason baseball is coming to the Urban Youth Academy in New Orleans.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced Monday that it will hold its postseason baseball tournament at Wesley Barrow Stadium this season. The tourney was expected to be held at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth, Texas, but the conference felt the Urban Youth Academy was a better fit.
The SWAC has maintained close ties to the Urban Youth Academy mission because it has sent at least one team to all seven editions of the Urban Invitational tourney. Grambling State has been involved every year, and its rival -- Southern University -- has also been invited to the tourney.
Duer Sharp, commissioner of the SWAC, issued an official statement on Monday and said that the primary concern of the conference will always be the health and well-being of the players.
"We would like to apologize to the fans, families, coaches and administrators for the delay and inconvenience the decision of switching venues may present," said Sharp as part of a press release. "The health and welfare of the student-athletes will always be our primary concern."
The SWAC tourney will be held at the academy from May 14-18, and the championship game of the tournament will be broadcast on ESPNU. Alabama State has been the conference's best team this year, boasting a 34-19 record and a 21-3 mark in conference.
Grambling, long the conference's dominant power, has gone just 14-29 with a 12-13 record against SWAC opponents this season. Outside of Alabama State, Jackson State is the only SWAC team with a winning record (27-23), which could set the stage for an exciting postseason tourney.
"We would like to thank the New Orleans Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy for hosting the SWAC Baseball Tournament," said Sharp. "We believe the venue will give our fans and student-athletes a great experience. The MLB Urban Youth Academy is a state-of-the-art facility and the SWAC has been tied in with the Urban Youth Academies for several years through MLB's Urban Invitational."
The Urban Youth Academy already has facilities in Compton, Calif., New Orleans and Houston, and new academies are scheduled to open in Philadelphia and Cincinnati this summer. Ben Baroody, MLB's senior director of baseball development and Urban Youth Academies, said it will be good for the kids involved in the academy to see what high-level baseball is all about from a close-up perspective.
"We are looking forward to hosting the SWAC Tournament, especially as it will give the young Academy participants the experience of witnessing collegiate baseball played at a high level of competition and serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for their future," said Baroody of hosting the tournament. "This is a terrific opportunity to not only showcase our facility, but extend our relationship with SWAC, which has been an integral part of our annual Urban Invitational tournaments."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less