VALDOSTA -- Where can you find maybe the best summer high school baseball tournament in Georgia? In the state's top prep football town -- Valdosta.

The sixth annual South Georgia Diamond Brawl, hosted by Lowndes High, could be the best summer tournament in the state.

The first games will be played at 1:30 p.m. today, and the tournament will run through Saturday.

Headlining the tournament are the programs that won six of the last seven GHSA state baseball titles at the highest level (AAAA from 1997-2000, AAAAA since 2001). Defending AAAAA champion Colquitt County, which also won the '97 title, will make the short drive from Moultrie, and will be joined by 1999 champion Lassiter, coming from Cobb County, 2001 and 2002 champion Parkview, from Lilburn, and the hosts themselves, 2000 champion Lowndes.

Also, Brookwood School of Thomasville was the GISA AA state champions this year. Several other teams were ranked this year in their respective classifications, like Cook, Brantley County, Bay (Panama City, Fla.), Crisp County, and Wayne County.

"There's going to be some good baseball played in this tournament," Lowndes head coach Danny Redshaw said. "High school travel teams want to play the best competition available, and our tournaments have gotten a good reputation over the years. We've been able to get some pretty good teams to come in here this weekend."

The Diamond Brawl will host 43 teams, the most it has ever had. They'll play at seven different sites: Lowndes High, Valdosta High, Valdosta State University, Valwood School, Cook High, Brooks County High and Berrien High.

The teams have come from all over to play. Bay comes in from Panama City, Lake Brantley is from the Orlando area, Benedictine and Groves hail from Savannah, Westside and Northside are from the Macon area, and Lassiter, Parkview, Berkmar and Woodstock all come from the Atlanta area.

"We've got teams driving four hours to play in this tournament," Redshaw said. "We're excited about the level of baseball we're going to have. It'll be worth watching."

And some teams don't have far to travel at all. Valdosta, Lowndes, Cook, Berrien, Brooks, Brookwood, Colquitt, Hamilton County (Fla.), Madison County (Fla.), Thomas County Central, and Thomasville all are located within 50 miles of the Valdosta city limits.

Lowndes will have three teams competing. The Viking varsity has been split into a Red team and a White team, with the junior varsity playing as the Silver team. Valdosta High will have two teams competing, as will Colquitt, Parkview, Bay and Lee County.

The tournament's primary sponsors are: Wal-Mart, Reames Construction, Colony Bank, Citizens Community Bank, and the Lowndes High Dugout Club.

"We couldn't do it without these folks," Redshaw said. "They've helped us out tremendously."

Game times today will be 1:30 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. at Lowndes, Valdosta and VSU. Cook, Brooks, and Valwood will host games at 3:45, 6:00, and 8:45. Berrien hosts Hamilton County at 7 p.m. Lowndes' teams will play at 3:45, 6:00, and 8:45, Valdosta's will play at 1:30 and 8:15. Cook will play at 3:45, and Brooks at 3:45, all on their respective home fields.

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