Summer Smiles, Grad Gifts, and Great Giveaways
- May 31, 2023
If we are to believe the old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’, please make sure you do not ask any local high school athletic director what May showers may bring. The deluge of participation Mother Nature brought to our little neck of the woods this past month certainly left those in charge of scheduling
If we are to believe the old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’, please make sure you do not ask any local high school athletic director what May showers may bring. The deluge of participation Mother Nature brought to our little neck of the woods this past month certainly left those in charge of scheduling baseball and softball games, and the participants of same, a bit frustrated and frenzied as the calendar counted down and the playoffs approached.
Under PIAA guidelines, high school baseball and softball teams are permitted to play a maximum of 20 games during the regular season, which this year had to be completed by May 19. With the seasons beginning during the last week of March, weather-related postponements are typical as schedules are re-juggled. But this year saw a double whammy as the chill of late March combined with the seemingly continued wetness.
Just as Little League Baseball teams set their league schedules to comply with the start of the tournament season in late June in preparation for the long-hoped-for journey to the Little League World Series, PIAA squads seek to qualify for the state tournament by getting their games in and compiling at least a .500 record by the prescribed May 19 cutoff date.
Perhaps Mother Nature is a fan of Shakespeare for as Hamlet so long ago stated, “Therein lies the rub.”
Indeed, the problem facing high school baseball and softball teams, especially those ‘on the bubble’ of qualification became how they were going to reschedule weather-affected games in time. To combat nature’s wetness District 4 baseball and softball chairmen (Sean McCann and Curt Chilson), made the decision that any team that had not already been mathematically eliminated based upon the remaining number of games on their schedule would qualify for the District Playoffs, which are being played down to its conclusion later this week.
Ah, a reprieve. Simply stated if your team’s record was below .500 and the number of games left on your schedule would allow you to reach the mark (if won) the team was in. This one-time (hopefully) decision could be understood based upon the weather-related complications. Is it fair? That depends upon who is viewing the decision. Teams that had rightfully qualified might remain skeptical. Those receiving the ‘free pass’ were probably grateful. But then, life isn’t fair.
In the end, what did it all mean?
Of the 40 schools fielding high school baseball teams and the 41 with softball teams in District 4, Northeast Bradford was the only school whose teams completed full 20-game schedules. Canton and Hughesville’s baseball teams were the only other teams to complete their full schedules. No other softball team accomplished the feat.
As for the decision’s effect on the playoffs? In baseball, five teams with sub-.500 records made the playoffs as did five softball teams.
Using the qualification criteria established for this year, the math becomes a little fuzzy. In softball, AAAA Shikellamy (7-9), AAA Bloomsburg (9-10), AA Troy (8-10) and A Bucktail (8-9) received the benefit of the doubt as assumed wins in the games they were not able to play would have made a .500 record possible. But Hughesville made the AAA field with a listed regular season record of 7-11. That’s 18 games played, four games under a .500 record. Giving the Spartans wins in the two un-played games would have accounted for an adjusted 9-11 mark. Good for Hughesville, but unless the 7-11 posted record was incorrect how’s that possible?
On the baseball side of things, AAAA Milton (9-10) and Shikellamy (8-9) got in — as did AA Bloomsburg (9-10) and Muncy (8-10). But then there’s the aforementioned Northeast Bradford, one of the few teams to play all 20 regular season games. The Panthers finished with a below .500 record of 9-11, but still qualified as the sixth-seed in the Class AA field. A total of seven teams were in the AA field, so the Panthers inclusion was not done to round out an even eight-team bracket.
Indeed, this was an unusual year with challenging weather circumstances, but from this point of view here’s hoping this year’s un-played game decision was a one and done deal. If a .500 record is the qualification standard for playoff eligibility, then that record should be achieved on the field of play. Allowing teams the potential of not trying to re-schedule games, in hopes that un-played games would somehow be construed as wins, could set an unhealthy precedent.
This Webb Weekly, May 30 issue date, marks the one-year passing of Bill ‘Buck’ Byham known and loved by so many. To me he was a coach, mentor, fellow journalist & broadcaster and a cherished friend. The times we shared will long be remembered and that is truly “30.”
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