published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

District 5-AAA trying novel format

Unless there are enforcement issues, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association couldn't care less about district baseball tournaments. Its simple bottom line is to have a No. 1 and a No. 2 from each district for the region tournaments.

How those two teams are determined is up to the individual districts. They could go by regular-season standings or use a variety of tournament procedures.

The Chattanooga area has a variety of formats this year, including single- to double-elimination, pure double-elimination or a single-elimination process that leads to best-two-of-three series between the semifinalists.

District 5-AAA, which begins tonight at Bradley Central, is trying something new but has the second- and third-place teams meeting for their first tournament game in a seven-team district. While regular-season champ Walker Valley was accorded a bye, No. 2 Soddy-Daisy and No. 3 Ooltewah will meet Thursday.

"There was a split among the coaches on how we were going to do the tournament. Everyone saw both sides of it, and at the end of the day everybody decided we wanted to do something different," Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley said. "It's crazy. It is probably the most unorthodox double-elimination tournament that's ever been drawn up."

District 5-AAA had used a single-elimination to the semifinals and then gone best-of-three with those winners meeting in a one-game final. That is the format this year for District 7-AA.

"The kids here have been been in a best-two-of-three," Signal Mountain coach Bumper Reese said. "When I was at Red Bank we were in tournaments bracket-style and best-two-of-three. With a best-two-of-three it takes an entire team as opposed to one dominant [pitcher], while in a [regular] tournament bracket anybody can have one really good day or one really bad day. In a best-two-of-three, you know you're going to see that team the next day except for a change in pitchers."

Aside from first place in the regular season, the best spot in 5-AAA appears to be No. 4, which this year is host Bradley Central facing No. 7 McMinn County. The winner will play the Soddy-Daisy/Ooltewah winner Friday.

"It's quirky," Bradley coach Travis Adams said. "I think every [coach] is looking at what helps his team the most each year. I'd say, though, that with seven teams and no play-in games that we'll probably do something else next year. It seems like it changes every year anyway."

Most agreed that with seven teams there was no really good way to have a tournament without single-elimination play-in games.

"Teams should be rewarded for having a better season, but you also want to make sure the beat team [advances]. With seven teams there is no good way to do it," Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox said. "I didn't realize how bad this [format] was for the second- and third-place teams. If we lose we're not in bad shape, but if we win we're probably going to wind up playing Bradley at Bradley."

TENNESSEE BASEBALL DISTRICT TOURNAMENTS

5-AAA

• Where: Bradley Central

• Who: Bradley, Cleveland, McMinn County, Ooltewah, Rhea County, Soddy-Daisy, Walker Valley

• When: Begins tonight

7-AA

• Where: At higher-seeded team; championship at Sequatchie County

• Who: Bledsoe County, Chattanooga Christian, Grundy County, Sequatchie County, Signal Mountain

• When: Begins Thursday

6-AA

• Where: At Red Bank

• Who: Brainerd, Central, East Hamilton, East Ridge, Hixson, Howard, Red Bank, Tyner

• When: Begins Thursday

5-AA

• Where: At higher-seeded team

• Who: McMinn Central, Meigs County, Polk County, Sequoyah, Sweetwater

• When: Begins Friday

6-A

• Where: South Pittsburg

• Who: Lookout Valley, Marion County, Richard Hardy, Sale Creek, South Pittsburg, Whitwell, Van Buren County

• When: Begins Friday

5-A

• Where: At higher-seeded team

• Who: Arts & Sciences, Boyd-Buchanan, Copper Basin, Grace Academy, Silverdale Baptist

• When: Begins Friday

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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