Richlands High School was the top seed in the Southwest District softball tournament, but the Blue Tornado earned the league’s second seed for the Region 2D tournament.
The baseball squad at Lebanon High School finished as runner-up in both the regular season and tournament, but the Pioneers are seeded fourth out of the Southwest District in the Region 2D tourney.
The Graham G-Men are 3-1 against Virginia High this season in boys soccer, but didn’t lock up a higher seed than the Bearcats in the regional tournament.
The reason for this is a points system adopted by the SWD that determines the league’s regional representatives.
It works like this: A team is awarded points for every victory and every loss over the course of the season.
A win over a Class 1 school is worth three points, a victory over a Class 2 foe gets you six points, nine points for a triumph over a Class 3 opponent, 12 points for beating a Class 4 school, 15 points for beating a Class 5 school and 18 points for beating a Class 6 opponent.
For losses, it’s one point for Class 1, two points for Class 2, three points for Class 3, four points for Class 4, five points for Class 5 and six points for Class 6.
Why is this system used instead of head-to-head results or district finish?
It’s because Grayson County is a Region 2D school that competes in the Mountain Empire District and not the Mountain 7 District or Southwest District.
The Blue Devils are eligible for one of the SWD’s four regional spots in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and will be grouped with the Mountain 7 District in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
“I think all intentions were very good when the point system was established,” said Virginia High athletic director Brad Harper. “However, going through it this year it’s obvious that we have some things we need to work on.
“I think we noticed a couple of things in the winter, but we didn’t want to change anything midstream. We have certainly identified the flaws.”
Grayson County competes against five Region 1C teams and one Region 2C squad (Fort Chiswell) in the Mountain Empire District.
Two wins over Class 4 Carroll County and a split of two contests with Class 3 Patrick County gave the Blue Devils an abundance of points to get the third seed out of the SWD in baseball.
“We understood the points system coming into the season. We had Patrick County and Carroll County right at the beginning of the year and we had to tell the kids that those were our biggest games of the year,” said Grayson County coach Mike Worrell. “The [wins over Patrick County and Carroll County] are probably half our point total.”
Grayson County is also in a unique predicament in that the Mountain Empire District tournament was cancelled due to rain.
“The district tournament getting rained out was actually good for us, because we stayed where we were at,” Worrell said. “We could have dropped. Mother Nature was good to us.”
The Blue Devils play at Wise County Central today in the first-round of the regional tournament, the team’s first game since a loss to Auburn on May 14.
While Grayson County’s baseball team cracked the eight-team Region 2D field under the point system, the school’s softball team did not despite a 15-7 record.
That’s another one that has some befuddled.
“We’ll discuss it as athletic directors and principals in June to decide if there is a better way,” Harper said. “There have been conversations on the state, regional and district level in regards to a state-wide points system that follows with a path similar to football.
“Those are conversations we’ll have. It’s just been a fluid process with all the changes back to districts from conferences under this alignment. It’s been a wild spring with the weather and all the scenarios.”
The points system didn’t sneak up on anybody or surprise the coaches involved.
“I believe they came up with the best solution for our district given the current circumstances,” said Richlands softball coach Ronnie Davis. “As with any changes, confusion sometimes occurs as we are learning to adapt and adjust to a new system. I believe the same problems occurred when the VHSL went to the point system in football.”
One thing that hasn’t changed in regards to regional tournaments in soccer, baseball and softball is that the two top teams advance to state tournament play.
The Region 2D baseball tourney will be particularly intriguing as eight teams vie for those two spots.
“This year’s pairings should produce some good baseball games,” said Jeremy “J.W.” Salyers, coach of Mountain 7 District baseball tournament runner-up Union, which plays at Tazewell today in a first-round game. “I don’t think there is an overwhelming favorite as each team features several talented players. Like most years, this year’s region playoffs will test the depth of everybody’s pitching staffs. Those who can throw it over the plate most often will likely be standing at the end.”