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Local coaches split on new playoff format

[04/17/01] The Mississippi High School Activities Association has again changed the state high school baseball playoff format, but only the first round will be affected.

Because of state testing, the first round matchups will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Second, third and championship rounds will be the same as last year, on a Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday schedule.

“It’s tough on travel purposes, especially when you’re as spaced out as us and Tupelo are,” said Vicksburg High coach Jamie Creel, whose team entered the Clarion-Ledger’s baseball poll Tuesday as No. 15.

“… I like it, though, because it really tells you who the better team is” as opposed to the best pitcher.

In the Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday format, a dominant pitcher has a chance to take the mound twice.

Warren Central coach Sam Temple said the association should pick a format and stick with it. The playoff format has changed four times in the past 10 years.

“As long as it’s consistent,” Temple said. “My problem is every year they’re coming up with a new formula of doing it. Make it stick, stay solid with it and make us know what we’ve got.”

The Vikings back into the playoffs after dropping two straight games. The Vikings, No. 2 in the state, lost to Class 4A power Woodlawn (La.) and Pearl on Saturday.

The final scheduled game against Cleveland on Monday was canceled because Cleveland had to make up a division game.

“Let’s just chalk the field off and play baseball,” said Temple, whose team beat Starkville by 10 runs in their only meeting this season.

The Gators will have a tough first series against the fifth-ranked Wave. Tupelo is riding a 17-game winning streak.

The second game will be Friday at Bazinsky Field and a third game, if necessary, will be in Tupelo on Saturday at 2 p.m.

St. Aloysius, after winning their division by run differential, opens against Division 7-1A runnerup West Lincoln. The Flashes will play at Bazinsky Field Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

“I’m glad. I think it will help us,” said St. Al coach Joe Graves, whose team lost a playoff last series to West Lincoln three years ago. “Hopefully, we can take care of business in two games.”

Porters Chapel has a playoff bye and will not open postseason play for two weeks.