Mother Nature could reign again during Nebraska district softball play

Mother Nature could reign again during Nebraska district softball play
Photo Courtesy: Brian Voss

It was a beautiful day for softball Wednesday, and it will look even better if district games must be played Saturday or Monday.

For the third straight year, Mother Nature is set to interfere with the completion of all 19 districts by Friday.

Huzzah to the Class A tournament directors and coaches who moved the start times up to get ahead of rain storms forecast Thursday afternoon.

The tournaments at La Vista City Park and Millard West were bumped up two hours, and the two districts at the Bair Complex in Lincoln were adjusted from 3 p.m. starts to 10 a.m. first pitches.

Gretna, Millard South and Omaha Marian already had tournaments set to begin at 9 a.m. because there is one field being used at those sites.

While the A districts have four teams apiece, B and C have six or seven teams in each. Many of those were already set to begin at 10 a.m. The latest starts are set for noon but also could be adjusted if rain appears anywhere from Louisville to Scottsbluff.

If any of the districts spill into Saturday or, as they did last year, Monday, keeping Wednesday available should be a viable option. I’m a little surprised it didn’t happen this year, especially after the way things went last year.

My hunch is umpires would find a way to make themselves available earlier. Same with bus drivers, substitute teachers and others who would be needed in a pinch. They always find a way to adjust and do what’s right for the competitors.

District seedings need changing

There will be too much riding on how things go in districts for Class B and Class C, while Class A isn’t expected to have much drama because of the use of merit-based seeding to place teams in districts.

Plans to create merit-based seeding are introduced, then defeated at the district level. The arguments remain the same — not having to travel so far to be eliminated is the worst of those. Yes, that was a real response earlier this decade from a school official.

How about letting schools that play softball vote on making this change that rewards teams for how they perform during the year? All the arguments about too much power in one part of the state for a small number of schools have been laid out in this column and by World-Herald colleagues.

The most ridiculous arrangement this year is having No. 1 Elkhorn, No. 2 Elkhorn South and No. 4 Omaha Skutt in the same district. Those three are in the top nine in wild-card points, as well, having proved throughout the season that they are among the best in Class B.

District B-4 at David City also is not properly aligned. Beatrice, Crete and Seward all are rated, Fairbury has been rated, and York has improved to the point where the Dukes have been considered for the ratings. York is 22-7 as a No. 5 seed.

Meanwhile, two of the seven teams in the B-6 district in Scottsbluff and Gering have winning records, and top seed North Platte is 18-14.

District C-3 at Wahoo is another example of how the current system isn’t working. Like the B-1 and B-4 districts, three of the teams are rated — Wahoo Neumann, Wahoo and Raymond Central.

David City Aquinas, Malcolm and Milford all have winning records and are seeds 4 through 6.

Again, let’s be clear. This is not an East vs. West thing. I’d be carping on this no matter where in the state the teams were performing best.

Earning a state tournament berth should never be about where you live. It should be a goal that the best teams, no matter where they’re located, have a chance to reach based on their performance throughout the season.

It works for almost every other sport. Why softball keeps getting the short end of the bat is baffling. Those who have the power, please fix this for 2019 and beyond.

Nebraska High School District Softball Brackets

Class A  –  A-1 | A-2 | A-3 | A-4 | A-5 | A-6 | A-7

Class B  –  B-1 | B-2 | B-3 | B-4 | B-5 | B-6

Class C  –  C-1 | C-2 | C-3 | C-4 | C-5 | C-6

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