Tuesday, May 4, 2021 | 12.30
Will baseball and softball teams with higher seeds host playoffs this spring, or can WPIAL use neutral sites as usual?
This is a question from a list WPIAL wants to answer this week when the baseball and softball committees meet online on Thursday and Friday. WPIAL must also decide what to do if a section has too many unplayed games to clearly determine who gets the playoffs.
But before making any major decisions, WPIAL has asked for feedback from its schools through an online survey sent out Monday, said WPIAL CEO Amy Scheuneman.
“The information gathered from the survey will be reviewed with the committees,” she said, “and then the entire playoff parameters will be communicated (to the schools) next week.”
WPIAL this year previously planned baseball and softball playoff games on neutral sites, but can concerns from covid-19 leave some arenas inaccessible this spring?
“This was part of the questionnaire,” Scheuneman said. “Are they willing to host neutral website games?”
WPIAL is also ready to adjust the methods used to select qualifiers, but only if necessary. Traditionally, the four best teams and any unbreakable ties qualify for the playoffs from all baseball and softball sections.
But for now, WPIAL is looking for an accurate count of how many games teams expect to complete before the regular season ends.
“We will look at what has not been completed and what will not be completed before we have even had that conversation (about qualifying match),” she said. “We’re talking about the playoffs in general, but we have to see where the teams are before we make a decision.”
The baseball and softball committees will meet again on May 13-14 to set the playoff brackets. The WPIAL calendar has a final game from 17 May, for the time being.
WPIAL used an “open tournament format” in the winter for basketball playoffs, but that sport faced many other covid-related challenges than baseball or softball has this spring, Scheuneman said. The state’s mask mandate led to some basketball teams with different mask policies refusing to play each other.
There was no problem this spring because athletes were not required to wear masks during outdoor competitions.
WPIAL will probably only consider a form of an open tournament in the spring if a significant number of games were not played, causing an unbalanced position and an unclear playoff picture. However, a large majority of baseball teams are now within two or three games after completing the section plans.
Still, some softball sections are further ahead than others. For example, in sections 1-3A, the six teams were scheduled to play 10 section matches each, but none have played more than six.
“I’m not going to say (an open tournament) is completely out of the question,” Scheuneman said. “If I come back and see that half of the teams are not going to get their matches, it could be in the conversation. I would not rule it out or out right now. ”
After a dry spring weather, rain has also caused delays in recent days.
“Therefore, we wanted to wait as long as possible to get this information (from the survey),” Scheuneman said. “To see what all is to be accomplished.”