Players take the field Friday in Connie Mack World Series at three Farmington venues

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – At long last, it is finally time to play baseball.

Nearly two full years have passed since the last Connie Mack World Series game was played in Farmington, and anticipation for the series is high as pool play begins Friday across the city

The series was cancelled last year due to Coronavirus restrictions. That turned out to be a silver lining for renovations which have now been completed both outside and inside Ricketts Park.

Connie Mack World Series Vice-President Kim Stradling talked about the upgrades to the facility during a meeting with representatives of all 12 teams in the series.

Connie Mack World Series games:Check out the 2021 pool play schedules

Jordan Vickers and Jace Whalen of the Farmington Sting will look to be key figures in the success of the host team in the 2021 Connie Mack World Series

“We did the renovations, and they ran behind, partially due to the pandemic,” Stradling said. “When we couldn’t get them done last year, it sort of simplified matters. We haven’t had anyone play on that field in two years and it’s in pristine shape.” 

On the field itself, The Farmington Sting will be featured in a pair of games Friday morning and evening to kick off action in the 2021 Connie Mack World Series.

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The Sting, coached by Kary King, will start off pool play action at 9:30 a.m. at the Farmington Sports Complex when they face the Enid Majors from Oklahoma. Later that night, the Sting will take center stage at Ricketts Park when they face off with the Colton Nighthawks from California.

Two more teams from the state of New Mexico will also be represented in action this weekend.

Albuquerque Baseball Academy, led by coach Tim Campos (far left) after winning their regional qualifying tournament in Cheyenne, Wyoming for this week's Connie Mack World Series

The Frackers, coached by Eli Wyatt, will face off against the Albuquerque Baseball Academy Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Worley Field.

The Sting, the official host team for the series after winning the city tournament earlier this month, will be looking to become the first local team to win the series since it arrived in Farmington in 1965.

Related:Teams start to arrive in Farmington for Connie Mack World Series after being canceled in 2020

For many of the players and coaches of the Sting, simply being in the series is the culmination of a lifelong dream.

“What’s unique about the series from our perspective is that we’ve got guys on this roster that have been coming to these games since as far as they can remember,” King said. “Having the opportunity to actually play in the tournament is what makes it so special.”

Jordan Vickers will be one of the players to watch on the Sting. Committed to play college ball next season at Arizona Christian University, the Farmington High graduate is expected to play a key role in the success of the Sting team this weekend and going forward.

Farmington Sting players participate in the 2021 Connie Mack World Series parade on July 22 in downtown Farmington.

Also representing the Sting in the Connie Mack World Series is Piedra Vista High School graduate Jace Whalen. Playing defensively primarily in the outfield, Whalen will also be looking to provide some offensive firepower to the Sting.

“He’s got tons of raw power,” King said of Whalen. “It will be fun to watch him swing the bat in front of the hometown fans.”

For Whalen, the chance to finish his time playing baseball locally in the Series — specifically at Ricketts Park — is the thrill of a lifetime.

"Having played here for so long, this is a perfect finish," Whalen said. "We didn't get to play here during the high school baseball season, so the opportunity to be here is pretty great." 

The 12 teams were assigned into three pools, which are scheduled to play against one another this weekend. The top teams from those pools will then be bracketed into the elimination format of the tournament, which kicks off Sunday.

The Sting will be paired up in Pool A with Enid, as well as Colton and the Nashville Knights. The Sting will play a pair of games Friday, the first at 9:30 a.m. at the Farmington Sports Complex before heading over to Ricketts Park for their second game of the day, scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

So Cal Renegades Coach Si Pettrow, seen in this 2018 file photo from the Connie Mack World Series at Ricketts Park in Farmington, returns to coach the team in the 2021 tournament. The Renegades will play in Pool C.

In Pool B, two more teams from the state of New Mexico will be featured, including the Frackers and the Albuquerque Baseball Academy, making their debut in the series.

The Frackers and ABA are in the same pool as the Florida Legends and the CMWS defending champion Midland (Ohio) baseball team.

The Frackers will also be in action Friday morning at 9:30 when they face the ABA at Worley Field.  

Pool C is made up of two teams from Dallas, the Patriots and D-Bat United. They’ll face off this weekend with the SoCal Renegades and the South Troy (New York) Dodgers.

As is usually the case for this time of year, weather may be a factor for some of this weekend’s games. The National Weather Service forecast is calling for a 50 to 60 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Contact Steve Bortstein at (505) 635-2680, or via email at sbortstein@gannett.com.

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