State softball: No longer double elimination

From the KHSAA

The Board of Control conducted its first meeting of the 2018-19 academic year on Thursday, September 20 at the Association offices. Much of the day’s agenda involved ongoing discussion of the future format of several KHSAA championships. Among the action taken, the Board gave tentative approval to transitioning the State Softball and Baseball Tournaments to 8-team single elimination events, with the key provision of re-establishing semi-state play, preferably at non-high school sites. This builds upon last year’s decision to move away from the double-elimination format in Softball, in the interest of player safety and gender participation experience equity.

The tentative plan would transition these championships to 8-team events with first round, semi-state games, rotated in geographic pods and played at a neutral site. The Commissioner and staff were directed to develop site criteria for semi-state games for review at October’s Board meeting, with the goal to ensure quality facilities for hosting those contests. If this tentative plan is implemented, the events would be played during the period of June 5 to June 9.

“The Board has a number of potentially conflicting objectives to consider during its review of the spring championships. District and school administrators have expressed concerns over the travel costs of the current extended baseball format, as well as increasing costs of changing the softball format to where teams play only once, at most twice in a day,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “That undoubtedly adds to travel costs as well as their expressed concerns about these events being held, in some cases, three weeks after many schools have ended. In addition, the Board is concerned with all sixteen regional champions having a quality post-region participation experience and members have expressed a strong desire to involve sites outside of our member schools. While several of our member schools have outstanding facilities, it simply isn’t the same as a collegiate or comparable facility so we will be working to determine the feasibility of varying alternatives for sites after the region.

“The participation experience of the students at the final state round is also a key factor the Board has been reviewing. We need to make the participation experience of those two events more comparable to each other, including facilities for both the participants and their fans, while also acknowledging there will always be disagreement when formats are reviewed. It is likely, and expected, that coaches and others will generally focus on what is best for their program and that always creates a difficult challenge for the Board to balance the opinions of coaches, administrators, and others while prioritizing a positive participation experience for the students.”