Sussex County Sports Blog

By Dan Cleary

5/24/2016 - Softball Should Have TOC

 
   The month of June has been notoriously difficult to schedule high school athletic events.
   From proms, graduations, senior trips and end-of-season banquets, it is always tricky to find an open date to accommodate everyone.
   But if there is an event worthy of figuring out the logistics there is nothing that a little planning and communication can’t fix.
   A proposed Tournament of Champions in softball, in my opinion, is such an event.
   Earlier this month the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Executive Committee unanimously endorsed a proposal to create a Tournament of Champions for softball in 2017. 
   The proposal, which was also earlier approved by the NJSIAA’s Program Review Subcommittee, needs a second endorsement from the Executive Committee in June before the new tournament can become official, according to nj.com.
   The report further stated as for fitting a potential softball Tournament of Champions into the current schedule, NJSIAA assistant director Kim DeGraw-Cole said the details were still being discussed and no plans have been finalized. DeGraw-Cole added one possibility is condensing the regular season to create extra time for the end-of-season TOC.
   “We could play more games earlier and then finish around the 9th or the 10th of June,” she said. “I’m going to put it out there to the [athletic directors] and to the [softball] committee and see what they like. I think right now we’re [too] spread out in softball.”
   DeGraw-Cole also said two possible TOC sites are Kean University and Seton Hall University’s Ivy Hill Park.
   This, my friends, is a home run for everyone involved.  The softball played in this state is tremendous and to play to a final champ is a great idea.
   Yes, as I said before, scheduling could be an issue, but it can be done.  DeGraw-Cole is correct in saying that the softball tourney is too spread out and could be condensed. 
   The tourney got under way this week and teams are only playing two games before the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.  There are no games Friday scheduled but that date could be used for a third game.
   I know you need rainout days but track and field and boys lacrosse all compete during the holiday weekend so there is a precedent for playing on that weekend if need be.
   And do you know why boys lacrosse plays on Memorial Day weekend?  You got it, it has a Tournament of Champions, one of the best around,  and the teams need to finish the sectional tournaments earlier.
   And the truth be told, only six teams of the close to 275 that qualify for the tourney would be affected--the four public champs and the two non-public champs.
   It can be done.  A few years back field hockey implemented the TOC and with a little planning the people who run field hockey figured out a away to get it done and the softball people can do the same.
   I know some coaches who are in favor of it and some who are not, for the usual reasons.  Those against it cite the scheduling issue as the major reason, while some non-public schools will have already had graduation before the TOC starts.
   But that happens now with the group finals so that doesn’t wash with me.
   There are so many in-season tournaments that pit teams from across the state that I would imagine the top tier programs would love to have a TOC to decide an overall champ.
   One question that has been brought up is how to seed the event.  In the nj.com article there were three options mentioned--power points, overall record and separating the non-publics and publics until a winner-take-all final between the two--a very intriguing idea.
    The article pointed out if you go by power points you could run into the situation field hockey had when national power Eastern had to compete in a play-in game because its did have the most power points due to its out-of-state schedule.
   It was unfortunate, but Eastern went out and won the TOC anyway.
   I’m not crazy about overall record because that could be deceiving although if you won a state title I’m sure you didn’t have a lot of cupcakes on the schedule.
   The separation of the non-publics and publics is very interesting to me.  The four publics would play each other in the semifinals and the winners would play each other in a public final and receive a state champion trophy as the public school champ.
   It would then play the winner of Non-Public A and B in a overall state champion final.  The winner of the non-public game would be declared the non-public state champ.
   How does that sound?
   This way the two teams in the final are state champs of their respective classification and the TOC final would be for bragging rights.
   Another way to seed the tourney would to have a seeding committee made up of the top softball officials around and a media member who doesn’t have a dog in the fight, so to speak.  Sean Reilly of MSG Varsity would be the perfect guy for that job.
   No matter how it is done, it has to happen.  I have covered softball in this state since 1989 and a TOC would be a perfect way to cap the season.
   I think about the Ally Frei-led High Point teams from a couple of years ago and I have no doubt the Wildcats could have won it all.
   The same can be said for Sparta in 2011 when Sam Greiner and the Spartans won the Group 3 title.
   I would put those teams up against anyone in the state the years they won it all.
   As far as competitive balance, the Group 1 schools in the state can hold their own with anyone.  You tell me what team Larissa Spellman and Butler would be a decided underdog to?
   And Lodi Immaculate in Non-Public B?  It can play with any team and it has over the last couple of years.
   When the state finals come to an end at Kean University in a few weeks six teams will go home as state champs but there will always be a debate as to which was the top team.
   That question would be answered next season if the NJSIAA does the right thing.

   That’s it for now see you on the sidelines. 

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6/13/2015
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2/24/2015
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1/30/2015
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8/20/2014
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8/15/2014
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8/8/2014
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8/1/2014
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7/18/2014
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7/11/2014
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6/26/2014
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6/19/2014
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6/13/2014
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6/9/2014
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5/26/2014
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5/19/2014
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5/12/2014
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5/12/2014
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5/5/2014
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4/16/2014
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4/10/2014
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4/7/2014
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3/24/2014
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3/17/2014
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2/27/2014
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2/20/2014
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2/13/2014
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2/7/2014
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11/27/2013
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10/9/2013
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9/23/2013
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8/21/2013
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5/9/2013
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2/4/2013
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1/29/2013
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1/27/2013
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1/18/2013
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12/11/2012
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12/10/2012
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12/9/2012
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12/8/2012
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12/3/2012
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11/27/2012
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11/11/2012
State Football Pairings


11/5/2012
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10/24/2012
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10/17/2012
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10/3/2012
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9/27/2012
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9/20/2012
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9/12/2012
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9/11/2012
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9/7/2012
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8/7/2012
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7/24/2012
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7/9/2012
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6/27/2012
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5/1/2012
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1/23/2012
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1/19/2012
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10/13/2011
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10/4/2011
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9/27/2011
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9/19/2011
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9/11/2011
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9/8/2011
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8/21/2011
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8/12/2011
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7/24/2011
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7/14/2011
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7/8/2011
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7/2/2011
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5/23/2011
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5/15/2011
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5/9/2011
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5/6/2011
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4/29/2011
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4/23/2011
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4/2/2011
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4/1/2011
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3/25/2011
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3/20/2011
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3/16/2011
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3/9/2011
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3/5/2011
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2/17/2011
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2/12/2011
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2/3/2011
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1/25/2011
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1/18/2011
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1/9/2011
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1/2/2011
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4/23/2010
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4/5/2010
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3/22/2010
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3/15/2010
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2/19/2010
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2/1/2010
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1/31/2010
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12/27/2009
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12/15/2009
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11/23/2009
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11/16/2009
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11/8/2009
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10/29/2009
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10/7/2009
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9/29/2009
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9/8/2009
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9/1/2009
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8/23/2009
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8/9/2009
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8/2/2009
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7/24/2009
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7/14/2009
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6/28/2009
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6/2/2009
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5/19/2009
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5/12/2009
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5/1/2009
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4/19/2009
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4/11/2009
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4/2/2009
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3/21/2009
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3/12/2009
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3/3/2009
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2/25/2009
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2/17/2009
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2/11/2009
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2/4/2009
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1/27/2009
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1/20/2009
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1/13/2009
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1/5/2009
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12/21/2008
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12/7/2008
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11/28/2008
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11/20/2008
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11/14/2008
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11/8/2008
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10/31/2008
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10/23/2008
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10/16/2008
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10/9/2008
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10/3/2008
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9/25/2008
NJSIAA Lacks Direction


9/17/2008
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9/11/2008
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9/1/2008
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8/25/2008
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8/14/2008
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8/11/2008
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8/6/2008
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7/30/2008
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7/21/2008
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7/13/2008
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7/6/2008
Wolf, Nottle Find Winning Ways


6/29/2008
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6/22/2008
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6/15/2008
A Special Thanks to Dad


6/7/2008
Defense Never Rests


5/30/2008
Kittatinny Crew Saves the Day


5/23/2008
Bello makes right call


5/16/2008
Great to be back at Festival


5/9/2008
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4/25/2008
Realignment Could Be Done Deal


4/18/2008
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4/11/2008
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4/4/2008
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3/28/2008
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3/21/2008
A Little "Mercy" for Football Teams


3/14/2008
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3/7/2008
Taking a Hard Look at the New Transfer Rules


2/29/2008
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2/22/2008
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2/15/2008
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2/8/2008
The Power of Power Points


1/31/2008
SCIL Adopts Innovative Soccer Plan (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


1/25/2008
On the Track to an Elite Program


1/18/2008
Adding Up the Numbers


1/11/2008
Dominating the Paint


1/3/2008
Bowling with the Knights


12/27/2007
Playing Games Over the Holidays


12/20/2007
The Mitchell Report Hits Home


12/13/2007
Are You Ready for the Winter?


12/6/2007
Reform Comes Slowly to New Jersey High School Sports


11/28/2007
Handing Out the Golden Statues


11/21/2007
Time for Change in NJ High School Sports


11/14/2007
Going a Little Extra


11/7/2007
The Single-Sport Athlete Dilemma


10/31/2007
Friday Night Lights


10/23/2007
Kicking Around Re-alignment


10/1/2007
I'm baaaack...


3/17/204
Great Run For Braves