Softball Notes: Rain causes postponements of B1 and C1 district softball tournaments


Rainy weather in eastern Nebraska on Thursday caused several delays to district softball tournaments. Below is a roundup of some of the affected districts and the updated schedules.

Follow @NSAAevents on Twitter for more updates:

A-1 at Papillion-La Vista: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

A-2 at Lincoln Pius X: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

A-3 at Millard South: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

A-4 at Lincoln Southwest: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

A-5 at Millard North: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

A-7 at Lincoln North Star: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

B-1 at Ralston: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

B-2 at Blair: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

B-3 at York: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

B-4 at Wisner-Pilger: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

C-1 at Auburn: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

C-2 at Arlington: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

C-3 at Raymond Central: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

C-4 at West Point-Beemer: Games postponed until Friday/Saturday. (bracket)

A year ago, just eight of the 24 state softball tournament berths were earned by Friday.

Heavy rain across the state the day before forced a one-day postponement of 15 district tournaments across three classes.

If things go that well this season, everyone will be ecstatic. It’s unfortunate that there’s a realistic chance the state tournament fields will not be set by Saturday.

The forecast is for a combination of thunderstorms and steady rain showers to blanket the state much of the day Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Even on Monday, when NSAA officials have said tournament fields need to be set to get the programs printed in time for the start of Wednesday’s state tournament in Hastings, many fields could still be unplayable as more rain is forecast.

As a line from a note sent to softball-playing schools by the Nebraska School Activities earlier this week reminded us, “As we all know, weather can always change and is out of our control.”

Not since 1993 — the first season softball was a sanctioned sport — is weather expected to intrude on district tournament play the way it could over the next three to five days.

That season, two districts were changed to single-elimination events. Lincoln Southeast was crowned District 4 champion over Omaha Burke because then-Bair Field was deemed to be unplayable. The Knights defeated the Bulldogs 9-2, and Burke would have had to defeat Southeast twice to make state.

Eventual state champion Millard North won District 3 when the tournament was rolled back to single elimination.

Nearly a quarter-century later, things are a bit more complicated. Now there are three classes for softball, not just one that primarily was composed of teams from the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas.

There are 19 district tournaments from Ralston to Chadron, and only the seven Class A tournaments are four-team affairs. All six districts in Class B and Class C feature seven teams.

Having some tournaments be double-elimination while others are single-elimination in the same class isn’t a desirable way to set a state tournament field, but weather may make it the only way.

That Monday note from the NSAA outlined scheduling options, with tournaments potentially being played Saturday and Monday if no games can be played Thursday or Friday. At the end of the list of options, the note had an eight-word sentence — “In other words, all options are on the table.”

One that should be considered, a card that hasn’t been played since a ban was implemented prior to the start of the 1949-50 season, is to play games on Sunday.

The best-case scenario is that everything is wrapped up on Saturday, just as it was a year ago. But last year the only bad day in the forecast was Thursday. That’s not the case this year.

All the reasons not to use Sundays are well-known; that’s why a ban was put in place for high schools. Of course, myriad non-school related sports activities have been played for decades on Sundays, both indoor and outdoor sports.

Having helped run the Nebraska Association Junior Olympics track and field meet for many years, I understand that having kids compete on Sunday’s isn’t the easiest sacrifice to make.

For decades one of the men who ran the J.O.’s was Father Patrick O’Byrne, a long-time cross country and track and field coach who taught at Hastings St. Cecilia and Wahoo Neumann.

In deference to Father O’Byrne, the Sunday portion of the J.O. schedule didn’t begin until noon. That sounds like a workable start time for this Sunday — the only day in the next five where a sun icon appears on the forecast page of most weather apps

It probably would be easier to get umpires for a couple of Sunday games than on Monday during the day, when most are back at their jobs. Classroom time — which becomes a bigger deal for many when it comes to athletics and other school-related activities —also wouldn’t have to be missed on Monday.

For one time when it would benefit the players to keep the integrity of the double-elimination tournament available to all 100-plus teams, please don’t dismiss the first exception to a 68-year-old rule.

One last thing. Just because the weather is bad doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten that the best eight Class B and Class C teams won’t have an equitable, merit-based opportunity to make the state tournament field.

Why those two classes still have pre-determined district pairings is still maddening. This season District C-2 at Arlington is the brightest example of why districts need to be serpentine seeded as Class A now has.

There are four ranked teams in that tournament — No. 2 Wahoo Neumann, No. 4 Arlington, No. 6 Tekamah-Herman and No. 9 Fort Calhoun. At least two and maybe three of those teams won’t make it to Hastings because of the archaic hold smaller schools that don’t even play softball have on the process of righting a wrong.

Top 10, Rec., Prv.

1. Papillion-La Vista, 30-2, 1

2. Lincoln Pius X, 24-2, 3

3. Millard West, 19-8, 4

4. Millard South, 22-5, 5

5. Lincoln Southwest, 32-4, 2

6. Elkhorn South, 20-5, 6

7. Hastings, 31-2, 9

8. Millard North, 19-11, 8

9. York, 25-2, 10

10. Gretna, 18-5, 7

Class A

1. Papillion-La Vista, 30-2, 1

2. Lincoln Pius X, 24-2, 3

3. Millard West, 19-8, 4

4. Millard South, 22-5, 5

5. Lincoln Southwest, 32-4, 2

6. Millard North, 19-11, 6

7. Lincoln North Star, 23-12, 7

8. Grand Island, 24-13, 9

9. Lincoln East, 25-12, 10

10. Bellevue West, 15-14, 8

Class B

1. Elkhorn South, 20-5, 1

2. Hastings, 31-2, 3

3. York, 25-2, 4

4. Gretna, 18-5, 2

5. Waverly, 16-7, 9

6. Elkhorn, 21-7, 5

7. Crete, 21-8, 6

8. Seward, 17-8, 7

9. Blair, 16-7, 8

10. Omaha Gross, 19-6, 10

Class C

1. Malcolm, 23-4, 1

2. Wahoo Neumann, 21-7, 2

3. Fairbury, 20-6, 4

4. Arlington, 21-6, 5

5. Auburn, 20-8, 7

6. Tekamah-Herman, 23-7, 3

7. Conestoga, 20-8, 8

8. Chadron, 16-9, 6

9. Fort Calhoun, 13-4, 9

10. Raymond Central, 21-8, 10