High school baseball enters final innings
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2012
4/19/12 at 5:02 AM
It's a sprint to the finish line in district baseball play for the state's largest high schools.
This is the first year for Class 6A-5A schools to compete in eight-team groupings to determine postseason seeding, and the system seems to be working.
OSSAA baseball chairman Mike Whaley he's heard more "positive than negative" about the new plan. Class 5A administrators raise the greatest complaint, about excessive travel.
District 5A-3 stretches from Pryor in the east to Durant in the south to Noble in the west, making it larger than three of the state's five congressional districts.
But Pryor head coach Gerald Osborne said the travel concerns are more than outweighed by how much fairer the new system is. "And you've got the same (travel) in football," he said.
Other eastern Oklahoma coaches say the format has added in the way of intensity.
"It makes the season mean a little more," Broken Arrow head coach Shannon Dobson said. "Last year, it seems like the last two or three weeks, we were just sitting around waiting for the playoffs. Now, you're still playing for something."
Dobson's 6A No. 1 Tigers are tied with Owasso and Stillwater atop the District 6A-3 standings. What are they playing for?
The top two finishers in each district will host regional tournaments. Under the old system, coaches' rankings were used to award sites, and a deserving team had no recourse if the coaches happened to get it wrong.
"That's the No. 1 thing. You play it out on the field and it doesn't come down to somebody's opinion," Dobson said.
That was important to the Tahlequah Tigers and third-year coach Nick Zodrow.
The Tigers are markedly improved in 2012 after a long dry spell. But because they lack baseball tradition, Zodrow was perhaps right in wondering whether their improvement might have resonated with prospective voters, especially those in the west.
"This has given us a chance to host a regional and play for something," Zodrow said.
As it is, the Tigers are second in District 5A-3 and one win from clinching a homefield regional berth. And by sweeping two games from Claremore next Monday and Tuesday, they could edge out the Zebras for the district title.
Under the plan, each of the eastern districts is seeded one through eight and teams are cross-bracketed in the playoffs, with the No. 1 seed in one district facing the eighth seeded-team in the other district, No. 2 facing No. 7, and down the list.
That means every district game is a little more important, even for teams sinking in the standings, because it's still advantageous to finish as high as possible to avoid playing a top-seeded team on its own field.
Breaking Down The District Races
District races for Class 6A-5A high school baseball teams are coming to a head. The top two finishers in each district get to host regional tournaments April 30-May 5. Here’s a breakdown of districts involving eastern Oklahoma schools:
Leaders: Broken Arrow 9-1, Owasso 9-1, Stillwater 9-1, Bishop Kelley 6-4.
Key games: Stillwater at Broken Arrow, 4 p.m. Friday (Cox Cable 3); Broken Arrow at Stillwater, noon Saturday; Owasso at Stillwater, 5 p.m. Monday; Stillwater at Owasso, 5 p.m. Tuesday; Owasso at Kelley, 4/27; Kelley at Owasso, 4/28.
Comment: Fast-closing Kelley needs a lot of help to finish in a three-way tie for second.
Leaders: Durant 8-1, McAlester 8-2, Memorial 4-3, Pryor 4-3, Noble 4-4.
Key games: Memorial at Noble (2), 1 p.m. Saturday; Memorial at Durant, 5 p.m. Tuesday; Pryor at McAlester, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday; Durant at Memorial, 4/26; McAlester at Pryor, 4/26; Durant at Pryor, 4/27.
Comment: Any of five teams could finish in the top two spots.
Leaders: Claremore 11-0, Tahlequah 9-2. Coweta 6-5, Collinsville 6-6, Booker T. Washington 5-7, Grove 3-6.
Key games: Coweta at Grove, 4:30 p.m. Thursday; Grove at Coweta, 3:30 p.m. Friday; Claremore at Tahlequah, 4:30 p.m. Monday; Tahlequah at Claremore, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Collinsville at Claremore, 4/26; Coweta at Collinsville, 4/27.
Comment: Claremore has clinched as regional host and Tahlequah needs one win. Next four spots are jumbled. Collinsville-Coweta makeup game could decide third place.
Leaders: Sand Springs 9-1, Jenks 7-1, Mustang 7-3, Union 6-4.
Key games: Jenks at Mustang, 6 p.m. Friday; Mustang at Jenks, noon Saturday; Union at Sand Springs, 7 p.m. Monday; Sand Springs at Union, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Sand Springs at Jenks, 4/27; Jenks at Sand Springs, 4/28.
Comment: Sandites are in the driver's seat after beating Mustang twice this week, but much heavy lifting remains.
Key game will be televised on Cox
Cox Cable will televise
Friday’s key district baseball
game between top-ranked
Broken Arrow and sixthranked
Stillwater on channels
3 and 703.
The 4 p.m. contest is the
first of two between the
schools. They meet again at
noon Saturday in Stillwater.
BA, Stillwater and Owasso
are tied atop District 6A-4
with 9-1 records.
Original Print Headline: District groupings get first trial
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
Owasso pitcher Jeb Bargfeldt delivers to Broken Arrow's Jacob Evans during their game earlier this month at ONEOK Field. The two teams are part of a three-way tie atop 6A-3. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World