MIAA says Western Mass. tournaments likely back this spring

  • The Turners Falls softball team holds the 2019 WMass Division 3 championship banner after beating McCann Tech at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. The MIAA is moving toward holding sectional tournaments for the spring 2021 season. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 3/8/2021 5:57:53 PM

Momentum is growing toward having sectional/Western Mass. postseason tournaments for the upcoming spring athletic season.

Following a prior vote to hold sectional tournaments during the spring season, the subcommittee of the MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee’s (TMC) was tasked with mapping out a plan for how one would be held, and the proposal was presented to the TMC on Monday. It was ultimately passed unanimously, 22-0-0.

With the TMC’s approval, the Sports Medicine Committee will now meet to vote on the proposal, followed by votes from the COVID-19 Task Force and the MIAA Board of Directors later this week to make the proposal official.

Here’s how the tournaments would look:

The traditional sections that have been used in years past will be the same for this spring season. The MIAA won’t move to a statewide postseason format until the 2021 fall season.

For this spring season, which begins April 26, any school can opt into the tournament regardless of record. This was done to allow schools to schedule as many possible games during the regular season and not have to worry about scheduling certain contests only to boost their chances of qualifying for the tournament. Vice versa, any school can also opt out of playing in their sectional tournament.

Teams must opt in by June 2, with regular-season play for the spring season ending on June 15. Tournament games would then start on June 19.

There won’t be a minimum game requirement to enter a postseason tournament, which allows for all teams that want to participate to do so whether they play only four, six or eight games due to various circumstances. Seeding will be done by winning percentage, with the subcommittee determining that doing a power rating system isn’t feasible as teams will be playing different numbers of regular season games.

“The subcommittee looked to have as much flexibility for all situations,” TMC member Johanna DiCarlo said. “It’s not a one size fits all approach. We wanted to create the sectional tournament with flexibility for all schools in unique situations.”

The highest seed would host the games throughout, with the tournament structured around a 16-team format. If more than 16 teams were to opt in, a play-in structure would be used, an example being the 15 seed would play the 18 seed in order to cut the field down to 16 teams.

Each athlete will be allowed to have two spectators attend the championship games in accordance with EEA guidelines. The higher seed would be responsible for finding a site that would allow for those spectators to comfortably attend.

To allow for as many games as possible, teams can play until June 30, whether they enter into the tournament or not. A team can still schedule games after being eliminated from the tournament.

“We’re trying to maximize the regular season as much as possible,” said TMC member Jared Shannon, who gave Monday’s presentation. “We wanted to give every kid a chance to participate in a tournament if they’re allowed to do so.”

Tournaments will be held for traditional spring sports only (baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, track & field, boys volleyball). Sports moved to the spring like wrestling are still waiting on EEA guidance as to whether or not they can hold a postseason tournament.

A discussion among members broke out about whether or not to have a state tournament for the teams that win the sectionals.

TMC member John Brown made the case for state tournaments, saying that if teams are willing to travel for sectional tournaments, they’d also be willing to travel for a state tournament.

“We should put it out there and let the Board of Directors then make that decision,” Brown said. “We should give the kids the opportunity to play.”

Ultimately, the committee did not vote on holding a state tournament during Monday’s meeting.


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