Softball was one of several sports where this change was enacted, and with the conclusion of the regular season and region championship tournaments having taken place last week, the determination of which schools advance to the state playoffs is well underway.
However, that decision is no longer as cut and dry as it’s been in the past.
Prior to this season, the top four teams from their respective region tournaments made the 32-team Class A state playoff bracket, and the final eight advanced to the state finals in Columbus to crown a champion. The committee’s move to split Class A into public and private championships resulted in the creation of two separate 16-team state tournaments to select two distinct champions.
Several criteria must be met now for teams to make the state playoffs.
Selection to the state playoffs will be governed by a power ratings system, which will take into account a team‘s wins and losses as well as those of its opponents. According to the GHSA, a school’s power rating shall be the total power points of games played divided by the number of total games played during the regular season and the region tournament. Contests played against out of state opponents shall not count in determining a school’s power rating.
Schools are responsible for submitting their scoring and win-loss information into MaxPreps.com, which is the official source for the GHSA power ratings.
To be eligible for the state playoffs, teams must play a minimum of 16 contests, and only region tournament champions shall automatically qualify for the state playoffs.
According to the GHSA, region champions will be seeded at the top of the bracket ranked in order by their power ratings. The remainder of the teams on the bracket shall be filled with teams that did not automatically qualify, by placing them on the bracket starting with the highest power ranking and continuing in descending order up to No. 16.
For Cobb County’s four private schools — Region 6A members Mount Paran Christian, Walker, Whitefield Academy and North Cobb Christian — these changes mean it will take more than doing well in the region tournament to advance to the state playoffs.
“The region tournament doesn’t mean as much now unless you win it,” Walker coach Anna Kennedy said. “That’s the only way to assure you’ll get into the playoffs.”
The most recent Class A private school power rankings, which were released Oct. 2, has Savannah Christian (13.01) rated No. 1 and Region 6A member Mount Pisgah Christian No. 2. (11.97).
Based on the latest rankings, Whitefield Academy (10.24) would be in the playoffs as a No. 12 seed. Walker (8.33) is No. 18, and therefore just outside of the top 16. Mount Paran (7.80) and North Cobb Christian (5.01) are rated Nos. 21 and 28, respectively.
Region 6A school Gordon Lee (14.31) is the No. 1 power rated public school.
“There is some wiggle room for us to get in based on what some of the teams in front of us did in their region tournaments,” Kennedy said. “Those regions aren’t as strong as ours, so those opponents’ wins and losses could adversely effect them enough to help us.
“I think we have the eventual single A public (Gordon Lee) and single A private (Mt. Pisgah) state champions in our region. That could help us in the end.”
Because factors such as opponents’ wins and losses go into the power ratings, Kennedy hinted that she might change up her scheduling some what next year.
“If I understood it before hand, I probably would have scheduled differently,” she said. “I would have played more Class A teams we could beat and not put us in so many tournaments. We enter those so we can play and continue to get more experience.
“With wins and losses the focus, I’m sure there are other coaches thinking the same way I do. Now, everybody’s going to have concerns about scheduling.”
According to the GHSA, the MaxPreps final power ratings will be posted on the GHSA web site on Tuesday. Final playoff brackets will be posted in the afternoon on the GHSA website on Wednesday, and the state playoffs begin Oct. 17-18 at the higher seeded schools.
‘We probably won’t be pushed up the ratings, but I hope we get in,” Kennedy said.