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MIAA Baseball Committee approves statewide alignments, endorses Super 8

  • Pioneer celebrates Jacob Quinn (3) scoring in a 2018 baseball game. The Panthers were aligned into Division 5 under the MIAA’s new divisional format. Staff FILE PHOTO/Dan Little

  • Greenfield center fielder David Carey (7) reels in a fly ball before throwing out an Easthampton baserunner at home plate last year. The Green Wave are one of the seven local teams slotted into Division 5 under the new alignment format recommended by the MIAA. Staff FILE Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 5/21/2020 5:12:02 PM
Modified: 5/21/2020 5:11:51 PM

The MIAA Baseball Committee approved statewide alignments and voted to endorse the Super 8 Tournament for the 2021-2022 school year on Thursday.

The committee met virtually and voted 11-0 to approve the subcommittee’s recommendation for five divisions when the postseason shifts to a statewide format.

The proposal now moves on to the Tournament Management Committee (TMC), which will meet virtually at 11 a.m. on June 4.

Much like other team sports, baseball teams were sorted by enrollment then adjusted based on factors as determined by the TMC. Vocational schools were moved down two divisions, while private schools and cooperate schools were moved up one division. Single-gender schools were aligned by doubling their enrollments.

The goal was to align the 325 teams and keep the five divisions as equal and balanced as possible for the two-year cycle. Currently, their are 63 teams in Division 1, 66 in both Division 2 and 4, and 65 in both Division 3 and 5.

The divisions will likely look different when they become official during the winter. Schools that opt to move up would automatically be approved, while schools that want to move down need to appeal to the TMC. Appeals will not be heard based on a program’s success rate. Appeals will be heard based on the following factors: school type (private, urban, co-op, vocational), participation numbers and large enrollment changes.

There was some discussion as to whether the committee should move teams prior to sending the proposal to the TMC.

Currently, Taconic High School in Pittsfield is aligned in Division 2. Jim Abel, who is the athletic director at both Pittsfield and Taconic, is the District G representative on the committee. He said Taconic is a vocational school that should be dropped to Division 4 but would then likely appeal to move up to Division 3.

Likewise, Pope Francis was aligned to Division 4. East Longmeadow AD Kevin Magee, the District F representative, said Pope Francis would appeal to move up to Division 2.

Ultimately, the committee approved the alignments and left it in the hands of the schools to appeal or opt to move up.

Local schools were aligned in the following divisions:

Division 4: Mahar

Division 5: Frontier, Athol, Greenfield, Franklin Tech, Mohawk Trail, Pioneer, Turners Falls

SUPER 8 — The committee voted 11-0 to endorse the Super 8 (Division 1A) Tournament when the statewide system takes effect. The motion now advances to the TMC.

There was some fear that if the tournament was eliminated for the two-year cycle starting in 2021-22, it may be difficult to bring the tournament back.

Magee asked if the tournament was only limited to Division 1 schools. Don Fredericks, who chairs the Super 8 committee, said the tournament is open to all teams, providing they meet the standards. The 2019 champion was Division 2 North Andover, which swept the double-elimination field out of the eight seed.

Next season, the committee will select the teams for the 1A tournament and MaxPreps will seed the field.

RULES — The committee voted to carry over all National Federation High School rules from 2020 to the 2021 season.

PITCH COUNTS — Coaches were scheduled to begin tracking pitches this season. The committee discussed electronic tracking systems and whether budget issues for the following school year would allow athletic directors to make the necessary purchases.

While nothing was voted on, the committee is exploring using a pilot system next season with schools that can handle the financial requirement.

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