A great week to play ball

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Throughout the Southeastern District’s baseball, softball and soccer seasons, the difference between schools in places four or five, even say, three and six, in the district has been practically nothing, making this the perfect time for the district schools to have expanded the district tournaments from the top four teams in each sport to the top six.

There is a balancing act between having the regular season mean as much as possible and having a big tent in which as many student-athletes as possible get to experience the good and bad, pressure and excitement, of playing an all-important postseason game.

With 10 schools currently in the Southeastern, and likely that’ll go to 11 and 12 in the fairly near future, six is a number that is fair without hurting the quality of competition at all.

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For any baseball fan who’s been out to a couple high school games around Suffolk or Chesapeake, let me ask this. Should any squad with a winning record against their district foes, particularly with the high level of play in the Southeastern, be left out of the postseason?

That would be happening with one or two teams if the top four was still the cut.

Six happens to be a good number for the elite teams, too. It gives the top two teams a definite advantage, meaning locking up a district tourney spot with two or three games to go wasn’t enough incentive to relax and simply play out the string.

Teams in places three through six will be playing first round games, likely nail-biting games that will go right down to the wire if the season’s been any indication, on Monday while the schools getting byes wait and get to be 100 percent fresh for Wednesday’s semifinal rounds.

Saving everyone’s legs 80 minutes or more of running, especially after 15-20 soccer matches throughout the last two months, is easily worth going all-out to finish second place instead of third.

On the baseball diamond, Monday’s contestants will have to weigh pitching their aces in the opening game, then likely not having their top pitchers again through the rest of the tournament, versus saving their ace but then having no game for the ace to pitch in come Wednesday.

Grassfield hosts both soccer tournaments with matches starting Monday at 2 p.m. Nansemond River is the site for softball and baseball Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with doubleheaders on both fields starting at 5:30 Monday and Wednesday.