One of the most exciting things about postseason play is the day teams find out who they have to beat to reach the state tournament.
For Class A softball teams, that day was Sept. 26. Bellevue West has to travel to North Platte, Omaha Westside is headed to Grand Island, and the teams in last season’s state title game — Millard South and Lincoln Southwest — are paired against each other in district tournament games that begin Thursday.
As for the 80-plus teams in classes B and C, they knew their district lineup before summer vacation. So much for excitement.
The concept of seeding districts just over a week before the postseason works for Class A, so it’s time to at least let Class B teams in on the fun.
Instead of a merit-based model, the current system is designed to ensure representation from all parts of the state.
Class B schools in the eastern half of the state dominate the ratings — and NSAA wild card standings — but are bunched in three loaded districts: Blair, Elkhorn and Bennington in B-1; Elkhorn South, Omaha Skutt and Ralston in B-2; and Beatrice, Lincoln Pius X and, for a while, Norris in B-3.
York and Grand Island Northwest both have had terrific seasons but won’t face as tough a challenge as the teams in the first three districts. If a merit-based system had been used, here’s what a seven-district tournament would look like for the highest seeded B schools.
B-1: Skutt and Elkhorn; B-2: York and Norris; B-3: Lincoln Pius X and Gering; B-4: Grand Island Northwest and Ralston; B-5: Blair and Elkhorn South; B-6: O’Neill and Beatrice; B-7: Seward and Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan.
That would leave one wild card spot, just like Class A.
this isn’t a knock on schools from the western part of the state. If those schools were dominating, I’d be writing the same thing.
Travel concerns? Balderdash. Plenty of travel occurs during the week for regular-season games, and you can’t do it for the biggest tournaments of the season? This isn’t an issue with non-sports activities.
One final note to coaches: All-Nebraska and all-class ballots were emailed to you Wednesday night. If you didn’t get one, please contact me at email@example.com and I will get those to you.
Contact the writer:
402-618-4113, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/stevebeideck