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Braun Park prepares for state tournament

Braun Park will prove its worth this weekend, as the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Minnesota fastpitch softball northern state tournament comes to Cloquet.

USSSA state director Scott Brown said Wednesday afternoon that 34 teams ranging from ages 10-and-Under to 18-and-Under will play in 89 total games throughout six fields over three days from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon.

Brown said he was at the park last week, noting its beauty.

"Having a place like Braun is a picture-perfect facility -- it's quite awesome up there," said Brown, who lives in Andover, Minn., a noted USSSA area Twin Cities-based organization. "We don't have complexes like that down here."

Braun Park, built in 2000, has been run by park manager Kenny Joyce since it opened, and has assistance from a busy staff.

County teams participating this weekend include squads from Cloquet, Esko, Carlton/Wrenshall and Moose Lake, along with Iron Range and Twin Cities teams, as well.

"It's just giving more opportunities to play," said Brown of bringing the tournament northward. "Hopefully we can track some more teams to come up in the years to come."