E.A. Sports Today

Wellborn into playoffs

State confirms Panthers as the No. 2 team from their Class 3A area after some confusion on the tiebreaker rules following Thursday’s doubleheader

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER – Wellborn baseball coach Todd Manning left Weaver’s baseball field Thursday night “100 percent confident” his team was headed to the Class 3A playoffs after splitting its doubleheader with the Bearcats that night.

He was 100 percent correct.

After a quick phone call Friday morning to clear up some confusion over the tiebreaker rules, the AHSAA confirmed the Panthers were the No. 2 team out of the three-team Class 3A Area 9. The Panthers will travel to Pisgah for their first-round series Friday.

“Going into the game I wasn’t real confident, but once (Wellborn principal Chris) Hayes sent me the actual ruling it said after the game that’s when I was 100 percent for sure confident,” Manning said.

The uncertainty stemmed from the interpretation of the standings. Weaver believed it was in based on winning the 21-17 series tiebreaker with Wellborn Thursday night. Wellborn believed it was in, despite not winning an area series, based on its victory over area champion Ohatchee earlier this season.

AHSAA spokesman Ron Ingram said the question arises often, but the procedure is clearly listed in the organization’s Sports Book. Under the tiebreaker rules, the third game of an area series is considered a non-area game and only used if the teams are tied in the area standings. In this case, Ohatchee was 3-1 in the two first home games with their area opponents, Wellborn 2-2 and Weaver 1-3.

“I don’t like the fact it’s like that and I think I speak for a lot of the other coaches,” Weaver coach Jeremy Harper said. “It’s something that needs to be addressed I think. That’s just a technical part of the way the rules are set up; it is what it is.

“Baseball is a series set to me, in my mind. If you’re going to set it up to where you’re playing at least two games, who does it benefit to play two games and split? When you go to the playoffs it’s a best-of-three, why would you not have the area format the same way? Our area format determines (the playoff teams). I’d like to maybe see the old region format where you have all six or seven teams (involved) and play three-game series and you have to play them.”

The fact the teams sought a phone call from the state to clarify the situation just adds to the bizarre season that has been the Panthers’ year. It started when head coach Shane Harrell stepped down for health reasons hours before the season opener elevating Manning to the head position. They’ve also played some wild games, including a 25-14 Game 3 loss to Ohatchee after they had a big early lead.

“It has been a crazy season, so that’s a good way to officially end it I guess, on a crazy note,” Manning said.

First-round playoff series
Plainview at Ohatchee
Wellborn at Pisgah
New Hope at Piedmont
Pleasant Valley at Geraldine
Boaz at Cleburne County
Donoho at Hackleburg
Highland Home at Ragland
Munford at Andalusia
Clay Central at Etowah
Oxford at TBA

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