- Associated Press - Saturday, June 21, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The Oxford-Lafayette Sportsplex - Mississippi’s newest venue for elite level youth team sports - is wrapping up a tryout of its own this spring.

The newly opened 73-acre complex of four fields for baseball and softball as well as a half-dozen combination soccer/football/lacrosse fields has moved slowly into the growing business of “select” youth sports with just a handful of events so far.

With the arrival of spring 2015, the multi-million dollar complex built by Oxford dentist and Brandon native Dr. Michael Perry should be ready to host a full roster of tournaments and other competitions, said Greg Lewis of P360 Performance Sports, a Ridgeland company Perry hired to line up and schedule team competitions.

“We’re still in the process of putting them altogether,” said Lewis, whose main responsibility for the Sportsplex involves scheduling baseball and softball tournaments.

The Sportsplex situated just off Mississippi Highway 7 South hosted the U.S. Fastpitch Association’s Oxford Sizzlin Summer Blast.

By mid-July, “We’ll pretty much shut down,” Lewis said. “That will give us time to get the grass going.”

The grass that will be growing includes about 40,000 yards of sod

Lewis said some fall tourneys likely will be scheduled on the ball fields, all of which have synthetic infield grass designed to allow or year-round play and help avoid rain-outs.

Also in the interim, installation will begin on a six-tunnel hitting and pitching facility.

Meanwhile, as the new complex ramps up for more intensive use, there’s much Perry, Lewis and the rest of the Sportsplex crew must get right. After all, expectations are high for any facility that puts on tournaments and competitions for the best up-and-comers in Mississippi youth sports.

The Sportsplex will be joining the publicly owned FNC Park in Oxford and sports complexes in Southaven, Tupelo, Ridgeland, Pearl and Gulfport as destinations for youngsters who have developed skills sufficient to land them on “travel” teams, which in baseball are categorized by skill levels from Single A to Majors

Chris Snopek, principal of P360 Performance Sports and former infielder for Ole Miss and the Chicago White Sox, has the task of persuading the “select” teams from around the state, region and nation to play at the Oxford-Lafayette Sportsplex. Snopek said the complex won’t be hard to sell as a tournament venue.

“It’s a beautiful place,” he said, and added that combined with FNC Park, Oxford is destined to become a notable destination for elite youth sports competition.

With Oxford already a destination for high profile cultural, academic and athletic events, Perry saw the potential to add another reason to visit Oxford.

Along with the bricks and mortars of new facilities, Perry’s plan required creation of baseball, softball, soccer and football teams made up of youngsters with highest of skill levels.

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