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Joel Stephens Invitational Set for Weekend

The 13th annual Joel Stephens Invitational Tournament, presented by First Citizens National Bank and Mansfield University, will be played from Saturday, July 2, through Monday, July 4.

Games will be played at three sites, including Mansfield University’s Shaute Field, Kelly Field in Smythe Park in Mansfield and Joel Stephens Memorial Field at Williamson High School in Tioga, PA.

The 16-team field features nine Twin Tier teams competing against squads from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Canada.

Among the teams are Bradford County and M.R. Dirt, a Towanda-based squad. Bradford County will compete in the Palmer/Henneman division along with Northern Tioga Post 235, Elmira Heights Post 154 and Bath (NY) Post 173. Joining M.R. Dirt in the Naylor/Dobson division are Big Flats (NY) Post 1612, Hanover Post 14 and Bellefonte Post 33.

Hershey Post 286, Corning (NY) Gray Post 746, Brockville (ONT) Bunnies and Williamsport Bath Fitters make up the Heaps/Heaps division.

Mansfield Post 478, Utica (NY) Post 229, Horseheads (NY) Post 442 and Cherry Hill (NJ) Post 372 make up the Hunter/Jones division.

Each division winner advances to the semifinal to compete for the Joel Stephens Trophy on Monday, July 4. The four division runners-up will compete for the Josh Palmer Trophy.

Founded in 1998 to honor the memory of Joel Stephens and other players from the Twin Tiers, the tournament has built a reputation as one of the top senior-level baseball tournaments in the Northeast.

“Our number one goal has always been that this is a player’s tournament,” said Ron Stephens, Joel’s father.

“We want to make the participants feel as special as the people the tournament honors. We also want to help people, as Joel always tried to do, by supporting charities, great causes and people in need.”

All money raised by the tournament benefits the Joel Stephens Foundation, which supports several charities. Last year, more than $4,000 was donated to several causes, including the Josh Palmer Fund, the Star Wish Foundation and Joel’s Kids.

Admission to all tournament games is free. The Joel Stephens Invitational depends on entry fees, donations, merchandise sales and program ad sales to generate revenue.

“We wouldn’t be able to put this tournament on without all the volunteers who give their time, especially on a holiday weekend, to make this event a success,” Stephens said.

“The support and generosity of area businesses, organizations and individuals is also what makes this tournament possible.”

The official opening ceremonies will take place on Saturday, July 2 at 2 p.m. at Shaute Field, including a parade of teams as well as special presentations and a tribute to Joel Stephens.

Saturday’s games at Shaute Field are as follows: 9 a.m.: M.R. Dirt vs. Big Flats; 11:30 a.m.: Corning Gray vs. Williamsport; 3 p.m.: Northern Tioga vs. Bath; 6 p.m.: Cherry Hill vs. Horseheads.

At Kelly Field, Saturday’s slate is: 9 a.m.: Mansfield vs. Horseheads; 11:30 a.m.: M.R. Dirt vs. Bellefonte; 3 p.m.: Utica vs. Cherry Hill; 6 p.m.: Williamsport vs. Brockville.

Stephens Field’s Saturday schedule is: 9 a.m.: Bradford County vs. Northern Tioga; 11:30 a.m.: Elmira Heights vs. Bath; 3 p.m.: Hershey vs. Corning Gray; 6 p.m.: Hanover vs. Big Flats.

On Sunday, Shaute Field will host: 9 a.m.: Mansfield vs. Utica; 11:30 a.m.: Bradford County vs. Elmira Heights; 2:30 p.m.: Hershey vs. Brockville; 6 p.m.: Bellefonte vs. Hanover.

Kelly Field’s Sunday slate includes: 9 a.m.: Brockville vs. Corning Gray; 11:30 a.m.: Williamsport vs. Hershey; 2:30 p.m.: Hanover vs. M.R. Dirt; 6 p.m.: Cherry Hill vs. Mansfield.

Sunday at Stephens Field, the schedule is: 9 a.m.: Bradford County vs. Bath; 11:30 a.m.: Big Flats vs. Bellefonte; 2:30 p.m.: Northern Tioga vs. Elmira Heights; 6 p.m.: Horseheads vs. Utica.

On Monday, the two Palmer semifinals will be held at Shaute and Kelly fields at 9 a.m. with the championship game slated for 12 p.m. at Stephens Field.

The Stephens semifinals will be played at the two Mansfield fields at noon with the championship game at Shaute Field at 3 p.m.

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