For the most part, all of the high school baseball teams in the Central District play at the same time during the regular season, which means coaches can really only see the teams that they play against and not much else.
That doesn’t really bode well for those who want to be well informed and ready for the district tournament draw which took place Sunday, May 4. Coaches usually resort to the time honored tradition of reading box scores in the paper or online in hopes of finding out all they can about potential opponents.
London coach Jason Barber, who’s in his first season at the helm, has been giving his own team the most of his attention this spring. But he admitted to trying his best to keep at least an eye on what the other Division II teams in the district are doing.
“I pay attention to what goes on with the other teams,” Barber said. “I look and see who’s doing well. I don’t go to other games so much, but I pay attention to what else is going on.”
Barber’s Red Raiders (6-12) received the 18th seed in the tournament and will open postseason play at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, at Johnstown-Monroe.
While London is seeded closer to the last seed (No. 26 Linden) than it is to the top seed (No. 1 Bloom-Carroll), the Red Raiders do have a D-I college bound pitcher in Zac Carey (Bowling Green State University) and a host of veterans who could make life miserable for a better-seeded team.
The winner of the London/Johnstown-Monroe tilt will advance to face either No. 6 Lakewood or No. 26 Linden Thursday, May 15.
Jonathan Alder, the D-II state runner-up a year ago, has looked as good as many expected them to be this season. With the exception of a week when they lost three straight, the Pioneers (15-3) have looked every bit the part of a team capable of making a return trip to Huntington Park.
But despite the nice resume, the Pioneers were tabbed as just the No. 2 seed in the upcoming tournament, behind Bloom-Carroll, a team that also lost in the state final a year ago (D-III).
Alder has a first-round bye and will play either No. 16 Centennial or No. 17 Amanda-Clearcreek at home at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 15. If the Pioneers can get past that game they will play in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 20. Jonathan Alder has played in five straight D-II district championship games, winning the last four.
The Madison-Plains baseball coaches entered the D-III district meeting with a simple goal, find a place on the board where the team could possibly win a first-round game.
The Golden Eagles (4-15) were seeded 18th (out of 19) and will open the postseason at No. 15 Centerburg at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 13. The winner of the first round contest will advance to play at No. 6 West Jefferson (12-8) Thursday, May 15.
“Being that far down in the seeding, my options on the bracket were limited,” Madison-Plains High School coach Zach Durban said. “Before we started selecting, I had a plan in mind to put our team in the best possible situation to get a first round win, then look for familiar opponents and location.
“I am happy with the spot we are in. Centerburg will be a long road trip but we’ve played well on the road this year and the length of trips haven’t really affected us. We are in a position in the bracket that gives us a chance to compete for a first round win and play a familiar opponent and good location at the next round. I feel we are in as good a spot as possible.”
Durban believes his team’s record played a big role in being seeded near the bottom of D-III. But he thinks his team could be primed to win a game or two in the postseason.
“I believe our seeding was accurate based on the records presented to all the coaches,” he said. “Our record doesn’t show what we are truly capable of though. We’ve allowed some winnable games to slip by us this year and that resulted in a lower seeding. This can actually play to our advantage.
“I feel it’s important that we wrap up the regular season with a strong performance this last week and come away with a winning record for the week. That will certainly give us much needed momentum going into the tournament.”
The winner of the Centerburg/Madison-Plains game will play West Jefferson with a spot in the D-III district semifinal on the line.
The Flames (4-12) are the 13th seed in the D-IV tourney and will play at No. 9 Wellington at 5 p.m. Monday, May 12.
The first-round winner will advance to play a second round game most likely at No. 1 seed Newark Catholic Wednesday, May 14.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.