2008 IP Classic Preview

By: Austin Alexander-March 4, 2008

Any baseball player, coach, scout or fan in South Carolina is well-aware of the International Paper Classic’s significance on the Palmetto State’s prep landscape. Going into its 18th year of existence, the battle by the paper mill has done nothing but gain momentum from its humble beginnings.

In 1991 the idea was adopted and put into action by bringing four in-state teams in for a double elimination tournament. Since then, the tourney has undergone several facelifts ranging from expanding the field to eight clubs to a period of time when half of the participating teams were from outside our borders. Since 2000, the beloved birthplace of pre-season tournaments has been in the capable hands of Ms. Alicia Johnson. It has been on her watch that the four-day affair has seen incredible growth in interest, attendance and with the historical facility itself.


We had a recent Q and A with Ms. Johnson about the tournaments past and present. She was able to provide us additional information about the tourney’s yesterday’s and on the upcoming weekend.
DP-What has this tournament come to represent for the people of Georgetown?

AJ-The IP Classic has become one of the top community events in Georgetown. We are so fortunate to have the generosity and support of International Paper because without them we would not be able to put on a tournament of this caliber. The entire community rallies around this tournament.

It is like Christmas in March for the Georgetown Baseball family-there is a lot of preparation and build-up months in advance and a let-down feeling after it is all over. Many Georgetown Baseball parents save their vacation days to take during the IP Classic. Former students and players come home for the weekend to come to the IP Classic.

DP-Give us some insight as to how the tournament field is selected:

AJ-Picking the IP Classic participants is such a difficult job because of all of the top caliber baseball programs in our state. We try to select teams who are believed to have the potential to win it all as well as teams with top-flight prospects. We try to pick a balance of upper and lower state teams as well. There hasn’t been a lot of change in the AAA field the past couple of years, but Riverside, Brookland-Cayce and AC Flora are the perennial powers in AAA. Georgetown gets to play in the tournament as host and


Indeed the IP Classic has, once again, assembled a group of clubs that will attract a high volume of coaches and scouts. Georgetown serves as the host team and has been apart of every tourney since the very first one. All other seven teams have been here before too, led by Mauldin’s eleven appearances. Though the Mavericks are the defending champions and have won it twice, their crosstown rival Riverside has taken home the hardware three times, the most of any other team. Let’s take a look at this year’s field and how they have fared in this tourney.

Team Capsule and IP Classic History


 Total Appearances*

 Last Appearance


 AC Flora
























 North Augusta








* Includes 2008’s appearance

While collegiate baseball schedules make it very difficult for coaches to hit the road in the spring, most view the Thursday night and Friday games as "can’t miss" match-ups. Over the years it has also become an opportunity for many of these coaches, who believe it or not are very good friends, to get together during an otherwise very busy period of the year. In recent years, the NCAA has implemented a recruiting calendar that keeps Division I coaches off the recruiting trail from mid-November until March 1, for many, the IP Classic kicks off the new evaluation season.


Double A’s Take: Having been a high school baseball player in this state, I recall the anxiety over hoping that your school would be one of the few selected for the next year’s honor of playing at Mike Johnson Park. I was never fortunate enough to get that invite but in my first year of coaching in 1998, our James Island Trojans got the nod and what an experience it was for our club, from the competition to all of the pageantry that surrounds the weekend. Since that time I have found my seat behind the dish as an evaluator. I can tell you that in the past eight years, like myself, most college coaches and many pro scouts gather the IP dates and plan much of there scouting schedule around these four days. My favorite IP story is that of former Gamecock recruiting coordinator Jim Toman, now the head coach at Liberty University. Back when he was an assistant at North Carolina State, he met his future bride whose brother was participating in the tournament. They now have three children and live in Lynchburg, VA. I believe that most baseball people hear the word Georgetown or shoot through the area and immediately think of this event. Each year Ms. Johnson and her staff put together a competitive and talent-filled group of teams. Each year they put on a great show and make it a place that quality high school programs want to be a part of and that scouts can’t miss.


For much more info about the IP Classic, it storied history, Mike Johnson Park and team information for all eight 2008 teams, click here.

At the conclusion of each game, the IP website will post box scores that make the contests very easy to follow from afar. Also, Diamond Prospects will go team by team and generate our prospect reports for coaches, scouts and our DP members.

This year’s tournament should, once again, provide quality entertainment as record crowds are expected to flock through the gate and fill the grandstand, line the fences and overflow into the outfield bleachers. We hope to see you there!