COLUMN: Water Valley’s matchup against Leflore County in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs had no feel of desperation or competition to it.
Instead of two teams matching skills that were ultimately decided by one great play like Lafayette’s series with Kosciusko, the Blue Devils easily defeated the completely over matched Tigers in a doubleheader that was as lacking of a championship caliber atmosphere as you could ever imagine.
It almost took as long for Leflore County to drive up to Blue Devil Field for the games than the actual contests lasted. The games were more like practice sessions than a playoff contest and while WVHS coach Kary Bridges said publicly there were some positives gained, the reality is there was little to take away from the series moving forward other than two one-sided wins.
This matchup made it obvious, yet again, that baseball teams from the Mississippi Delta just can’t compete with teams from the rest of the state. I know that’s not earth-shattering information to anyone who has gone to one of these series, but the real key is making sure that another doubleheader like Monday’s doesn’t happen in the future.
The couple of coaches I talked to about this next idea won’t go on the record and say what they have told me a few times in the past, but the idea of eliminating Delta teams from the MHSAA playoffs makes a lot of sense.
With gas prices as high as they have ever been and school budgets shrinking, having a team like Leflore County get on a bus and travel for a game they had no chance of winning, three days after the series should have started, but didn’t because of a disagreement over a final region game, makes absolutely no sense. It’s a waste of money, time, effort and resources that could be better served at other positions.
Leflore County isn’t the only team that had no chance of winning a playoff game in the first round. If you checked the results in the Scoreboard section, you noticed that Delta teams could barely score a run let alone enough to earn a win over much superior teams from places like Itawamaba AHS or New Albany or Mooreville.
The reality of the situation is the MHSAA needs to set up a separate championship tournament for all the Delta schools to play in. It could be for all classes and involve a number of other teams that didn’t make the playoffs this year. The competition level would be much more comparable, the atmosphere would be better for the players to be involved in and much more cost efficient, which is really the biggest reason for turning to this type of tournament.
Instead of a Delta team not giving a team like Water Valley or Lafayette or Oxford a competitive series, our local teams would be better prepared for a longer run in the playoffs with a better first-round opponent. In essence, the competition level would transfer better. All the bad pitching and poor fundamentals that a Delta team brings to the table would be eliminated.
If this idea sounds too good to be true, it is only if we don’t let the MHSAA know about it. Parents and school administrators here locally, as well as other places, need to let the MHSAA understand that these types of first-round series don’t do either side any good. The need for change is now. (April 27, 2011, Page 8)