Spring break baseball tournaments have become increasingly popular during the past decade.
Area coaches said being part of these events is a great way to fine-tune their squads before they plunge into the second half of the season.
"We want to get out of this tournament the same things we want to get out of our nonconference schedule: To get ready and be better prepared for our conference teams and the playoffs," said first-year Hopewell head coach Chet Greeson.
Greeson, who returned to his former school for the East Mecklenburg Spring Break Showcase on April 5-7, said the competition at this type of tournament - which includes Independence, Marvin Ridge and Mount Pleasant - provides a good test for a difficult I-Meck schedule.
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North Mecklenburg baseball coach Mark King, whose team also played at the showcase, said he likes having his team play in spring tournaments.
"It gives you the opportunity to play against some teams you normally wouldn't play against," he said.
King added that playing in a more relaxed environment allows teams to work on areas of the game they don't necessarily have time to polish while players are busy with school, such as focusing on base-running or hit-and-run situations.
King explained he's also found these tournaments bring his players together - and not only because of the travel.
"While all their friends are out on spring break, this is probably looked at like a sacrifice, but we look at it as, 'We get to play more baseball,'" he said.
King's starting shortstop, Anthony Dimino, said he and his teammates don't mind playing during the break because they still have enough time to enjoy themselves during the week.
Dimino said he and some of his teammates traveled to the beach before and after the tournament, while others spent their afternoons on Lake Norman.
Dimino, a junior, said he looks forward to this type of tournament.
"It's a lot more fun, because we're not in school and stressed about homework," said Dimino. "We like to play baseball whenever we can."
Both North Mecklenburg and Hopewell played in close games at the East Mecklenburg tournament.
The Vikings (7-6, 5-0 I-Meck) went 1-2 at the showcase, defeating Mount Pleasant and losing to Independence and East Meck. North Meck's rival, Hopewell (7-6, 3-2 I-Meck), also won one of three games, defeating the Tigers and falling to Weddington and Butler.
Greeson, the third head coach that Hopewell's graduating class has had, said during the first half of the season his team had to adjust to his style.
"The pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together," said Greeson. "They had to learn me and I had to learn them."
Greeson added that his team is working on bringing together baseballs' three main aspects - pitching, hitting and defense - to close out the season strong.
King said his team has improved throughout the season.
"If you had asked me at the beginning of the year - or asked anybody else - fifth in the conference and not a blip on anybody's radar, I thought we were OK, but I was always apprehensive about what we had."
The extra experience the Titans and Vikings gained at the spring tournament should come in handy in the I-Meck.
"It used to be basically between North Meck and Hopewell, but now it is a lot different and a lot more competitive," said Greeson. "I think five teams in our league are good enough to be in the playoffs."
Other area teams also played in tournaments across the Carolinas. East Lincoln (11-5) was 2-1 at the First National Bank/Ultra Easter Baseball at Shelby High, while SouthLake Christian played at the HIT Tournament in Charleston, S.C.