Softball teams from the Sunshine State and the Peach State are set to meet near the state border again.

The Battle of the Border softball tournament returns to Lake Park and the South Lowndes Recreation Complex this weekend. The complex sits about three miles north of the Florida-Georgia border, a great locale for a battle between softball teams from the two states.

"The response this year has been great," said Rhonda Barnes, executive director of the Lake Park Chamber of Commerce. "We've got a lot of good teams coming in this year."

In the past, this has been a Class D tournament, but now a Class C tournament has been added. The C tournament will take place at Valdosta's Freedom Park, while the D tournament remains at South Lowndes.

The tournament is advertised as a battle for control of the border, but for the most part, that control has belonged to Florida. The only year the title stayed in the Peach State was 2002, when the Albany Hitmen won.

"It is a big deal to these teams to win this tournament for themselves and their state," Barnes said. "Florida's won this tournament every year but one, but there are several very excited Georgia teams that are ready to bring the trophy back to Georgia."

The tournament's real winner, though, remains The Haven. Fans are charged an admission price of one can of food, and players must bring three cans. All the food will go to The Haven, the local shelter for battered women. Other proceeds from the tournament (t-shirt and concession sales) will go to the recreation complex to support county youth programs. There will be prize drawings for fans at the tournament.

This year, two local teams -- Texas Roadhouse and O'Corley's -- will play, and Two In a Q has local players, as well.

This year, tournament festivities will also feature a golf tournament Thursday at Francis Lake Country Club. And the softball action will begin Friday night with two games between local groups. This year, the 6 p.m. game will be RTG Media (with players from the RTG radio stations) playing the Valdosta All-Stars (comprised of city manager Larry Hansen and a handful of city employees).

At 8 p.m., members of the Florida State Patrol will play members of the Georgia State Patrol. As of Tuesday, the state patrols had reserved 52 hotel rooms in Lake Park for this weekend.

"I never thought this would take off like it has," Barnes said about the state patrol game. "They want us to make this an annual event."

The Class C championship will be Saturday night, while the D championship will be Sunday afternoon.

For more information , contact the Lake Park Area Chamber of Commerce at (229) 559-5302.

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