Seeding questions abound for Silver Bay softballSilver Bay softball coach Mike Guzzo figured his team would be in line to receive a No. 2 seed behind unbeaten Cherry when section pairings were announced over the weekend. The Quality Ratings Formula had a different idea.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Silver Bay went undefeated against Section 7A high school softball opponents this season, including 17-11 and 3-1 wins over South Ridge and Carlton, respectively.
So Mariners coach Mike Guzzo figured his team would be in line to receive a No. 2 seed behind unbeaten Cherry when section pairings were announced over the weekend.
The Quality Ratings Formula had a different idea.
The final QRF rankings on the minnesota-scores.com website — used to seed section teams for the first time this season — had Silver Bay (14-6) tied for third with Carlton (12-4), trailing No. 1 Cherry (18-0) and No. 2 South Ridge (13-3) in their subsection. Considering Carlton and South Ridge each had two section losses and all six of Silver Bay’s defeats came to Class AA and AAA teams, Guzzo isn’t a fan of the new system.
“I think the formula is a little off-base,” he said Monday. “We beat both South Ridge and Carlton and we ended up tied with Carlton and finishing behind South Ridge. The (system) is not weighting enough on section opponents, and that’s my beef.”
Until late last week, Silver Bay was in fourth place in the QRF because of an incorrect record posted on the site. After a loss was flip-flopped, the Mariners moved up to tie the Bulldogs and, ultimately, receive a No. 3 seed.
Conversely, South Ridge coach Tim Anvid is in favor of the new method.
“I like the new system only because 90 percent of the teams we play are in the Polar League,” Anvid said. “And when you are competing against the Polar League and are not part of the Polar League, we seemed to get the short end of the (vote) when it was in the coaches’ hands.”
Guzzo also is upset with the timing of the decision process. He says coaches received an e-mail April 9 offering one of three ways to seed teams: coaches’ vote by meeting, coaches’ vote by electronic means or QRF. That vote was due April 17.
“My big complaint is why did our region committee come out with this so late?” said Guzzo, who favored a coaches’ meeting. “By April 17, we had already beaten both (South Ridge and Carlton). Our region committee has to say, ‘What are we doing? We should have given our coaches more information. We had trouble with this (system) in basketball and we’re not sure how it’s going to work.’
“But basically they told us nothing. Aren’t they putting any thought process into this? I don’t think the region committee should be letting anybody vote something in that they don’t know (how it works).”
Theoretically, higher-seeded teams face easier opponents in the two single-elimination rounds and have last at-bats due to being considered the home team. Yet, according to Cherry coach Darrell Bjerklie, that doesn’t guarantee anything.
“Coach Guzzo knows as well as I know, you still have to beat everybody,” he said.
Bjerklie believes the system can work with some tinkering.
“It’s a different way to do it, but I think it will work out in the future,” he said. “They will keep adjusting it. One change I recommended for next year is that there’s no reason to split the section into subsections anymore — they should seed the whole section as one.”
Guzzo, after discussions with Minnesota State High School League officials (who favor using the QRF), says tweaks to the system, such as weighting more on head-to-head and section results, are expected next year.
“But that doesn’t do us any good now,” he said.
Cherry, South Ridge, Silver Bay and Carlton all average more than 11 runs per game, so the playoffs could be full of offensive fireworks. The two-time defending champion and top-ranked Tigers, however, allow only 1.4 runs per game. Players such as Tanner Ersbo, Macey Etter, DeAnn Bjerklie, Shania Novak, Angel Dahl and Kirstin Lahti all have state tournament experience.
“We have a number of really good players who have been through this process before,” Bjerklie said. “When its playoff time you never know what can happen, so we’re not taking anything for granted. We definitely won’t overlook anybody.”
Littlefork-Big Falls (16-1) is the top seed in the other subsection.
Denfeld, East among top 4 seeds
Top-seeded Forest Lake will host the section final four next week, but the double-elimination playdowns could have a distinctly Duluthian feel if Denfeld and East win their lone games beforehand.
The No. 2-seeded Hunters (15-3) host the winner of a first-round matchup between Grand Rapids and North Branch in the quarterfinals, while the fourth-seeded Greyhounds (12-8) take a five-game win streak into the quarterfinals against either Anoka or Princeton. Game times are 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Denfeld, led by big-hitting Kara Warren (.471 batting average, four home runs) and Nikki Logergren (.468, four homers) and solid pitching from Sarah Hendrickson (8-2, 2.37 ERA) and Logergren (6-1, 2.53), lost 1-0 to Forest Lake late in the regular season, but won its six other games vs. 7AAA opposition.
Sophomore pitcher Vanessa Kohl and Sarah Buckner (.423) have provided the impetus behind East’s late-season surge.