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Family fun at Riddle-Pace Tuesday

Before the first game is played on Riddle-Pace Field, the Troy Trojans baseball team will host a night of fun and camaraderie for Sun Belt fans.

The 2009 Sun Belt Baseball Championship tournament begins May 20 at 9 a.m., but beginning at 6:30 p.m. on May 19 is the Sun Belt Family Night. The Sun Belt awards ceremony will open up the night at Riddle-Pace and there will be a home run derby, an autographs session and a fireworks show to cap off the night.

Family Night is free to all fans.

“That is going to be a great night for any fan to come and be a part of the awards ceremony,” Pierce said.

All of the Sun Belt all-conference selections will be recognized and the Player of the Year, the Pitcher of the Year, the Freshman of the Year and the regular season champion will be recognized.

There will also be academic awards handed out.

The home run derby this year at Troy will be slightly different than last year’s at the inaugural Family Night.

Each of the eight schools in the tournament will select one player for the home run derby, but Pierce said after the “big boys” are done there will be a youth home run derby.

“There are some great home run hitters in the league,” Pierce said. “It will be a special thing to watch them participate in that home run derby format. And what we have added to that home run derby is a eight-person youth league home run derby.”

Pierce said eight Dixie Youth leagues from across the state were selected out of a hat to participate in the youth league derby.

“They have held home run derbies of their own in their local parks and their champion will come and participate in the home run derby as well,” he said. “We will have a temporary fence set up at about 250 and they will participate along with the Sun Belt players.

“It is going to be a great thing and a great night. And we will finish it off with a fireworks show.”

Pierce said the night should be a fun night to bring the family out and have a good time.

“This will kick off the tournament and we are looking to have a good time on Family Night,” he said.

Fans who purchased tournament passes may pick up those passes during family night and passes and tickets will be on sale during the evening.

Pierce said Family Night has been a welcome addition to the Sun Belt Tournament festivities.

“We used to just have a banquet and the players and coaches would come in and sit down, eat and the awards were give out and that was that,” Pierce said. “In a hot stove session, we baseball coaches voted on having more of a family night with the awards done at the site of the tournament and have the home run derby with the fireworks show. So this is the second year of Family Night and this way the fans get to be a part of the awards ceremony. It is also more special for the players when there are fans present for the awards banquet.”