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Just My Opinion by Bill Curl 4-24-17

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Just My Opinion 4-25-17

 

Good news—the 2017 John Curtis baseball team has earned the #1 seed and will be the home team for the Select Division I quarterfinals.

 

The format calls for a best two-of-three game format.  Curtis will be the official “home,” team for game 1 (ergo, batting last), the “visiting,” team for game 2, and the “home team,” for game 3. All of the games will be played at Mike Miley.

 

Coach Jeff Curtis’s team will play the winner of the regional round between #8 C.E. Byrd and #9 Evangel.  Byrd was the runner-up in last year’s tournament.  Evangel is the team that short-circuited a top seeded Patriot team in the finals three years ago.

 

Now a bit of bad news—winners of 15 of their last 17 games, the Patriots are certainly excited and eager to get into playoff action.

 

But they have to wait.  Wait for 14 days—yes, right at two weeks, a baseball eternity.  What a shame.

 

Why?

 

You can thank the LHSAA Select/Nonselect split for this one.  Separated from competition with some of the best public schools, and relegated to five divisions, Select Division I is confined to 13 teams.

 

I still think calling them “Divisions,” is an appropriate choice of words.  The LHSAA clearly stands as a house divided.  This is the first year the membership has opted not only to endure the split in football, they extended it to boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.  Josten’s (the #1 maker of rings) must be dancing in the streets.

 

It works like this: with 13 teams in our division in baseball, the top three teams all receive double byes all the way into the quarterfinals. The 10 lower-seeded teams receive one-week byes into the regionals, where they play a best-two-of-three series.  No games are played on what would normally be the bi-district (first) weekend.

 

By LHSAA rule, the last playing date for the regular season is April 22.  The weekend for the quarterfinals is May 5-6.  You could argue that the 10 “bottom” teams will have the advantage of some degree of continuity by playing in game conditions in the regionals, while the top three will try to maintain their momentum through intrasquad games.  And don’t overlook those lower-seeded teams.  Any one of them is capable of winning the whole thing.

 

So will it be rust or rest?

 

The teams that get to Sulphur will play single games in both the semifinals and finals. That will be the weekend when 96 teams converge on McMurry Park to settle the 12 boys championships.

 

But wait.  The long delay is actually worse in softball.  Coach Jerry Godfrey’s team is in the throes of a 16-day layoff between the regular season and the playoffs.

The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will all be played the same weekend, April 27-29.  That means 96 softball teams will swarm into Sulphur, including all of the teams in Select Division I, which has only eight teams in softball.

 

That’s correct, with the aforementioned split, there are only eight teams in Division I.  Thus everybody from best to worst gets a double bye into the quarterfinals,16 days after the regular season ends.  Then they settle the championship in three games in a little over 48 hours.

 

The LHSAA membership saw this coming.  They passed a proposal to allow teams with a two-week break to play one tuneup game during that hiatus.  But due to an oversight and because of LHSAA by-laws, after passing by a huge majority, the rule can’t go into effect until next year.  That wasn’t the intent.  C’est la vie.

 

Patriot fans, our baseball and softball teams have given us plenty of excitement this year.  Now it will be ratcheted up even higher for the playoffs.  The brackets are highly competitive, top to bottom.  Two very exciting weekends are coming up.

 

Just wait and see.  And wait.

 

See separate stories on this website for complete softball & baseball pairings.

 

–Bill Curl

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