Itd hardly be a spring baseball tournament without altering the schedule on the fly. The 2013 Wheels Baseball Invitational had its schedule changed late Tuesday afternoon due to poor weather expected to move into the area on Thursday, but the event will begin its eighth edition Wednesday night when Northwestern takes on York.
The tournament was originally slated for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but the first days schedule was shifted to the morning to avoid incoming rain. Fort Mill High Schools junior-varsity squad will get a chance to swing with the big boys, as it fills in for St. Edward (Ohio), which wont arrive in town until later in the day.
The event has been a popular addition to the high school baseball spring calendar since its inception in 2006, and is held in honor of Larry Wheels Hinson, a longtime youth sports advocate from the area who passed away suddenly in 2004. Hinsons son Ryan pitched at Northwestern High School and Clemson University before being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2009. Hes currently plying his trade for the Padres Wichita Double-A club.
The tournament was started by a group that sought to keep Hinsons memory alive. The Larry Hinson Memorial Scholarship helps to that end as well. The scholarship was launched in 2006 in conjunction with the tournament and provides scholarship money to high school baseball players from Rock Hill, Northwestern, South Pointe and York.
Ian Hinson, a distant cousin of Larry Hinsons, will carry the family banner this year. The South Pointe senior outfielder is one of a number of players in the tournament either committed or signed to play baseball at the college level in the coming years. Hinson will suit up for Limestone College next spring, but first will try to sign off his high school career with a Wheels tournament championship, a title the Stallions have never won.
The Wheels has annually attracted teams from all over the United States, and this year is again no exception with squads from Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina making the trip down for some spring break ball. All-tournament passes cost $15 for adults and are $10 for children 10 and under, and seniors 65 and older. Single day passes are $6 for adults and $4 for children and seniors.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T