By STEVE JACKSON
High school baseball playoffs are set to run next week, April 26 through April 30. The five South Shore baseball teams will be notified April 21 about the Division brackets: whom they play, where and when. The five include Spoto and Sumner in 5A-D8, Lennard and Riverview in 7A-D8 and East Bay in 6A-D10.
After losing the state high school baseball playoffs completely in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Florida High School Athletic Association decided recently that 2021 would not be the right time to unveil the new system. So they are reverting back to the former playoff structure for this year.
Due to the current conditions of the pandemic and the waiving of minimum contests to be eligible for FHSAA State Series events, the FHSAA Board of Directors voted to use the old format of District Champions and Runners-up to advance to regionals for spring sports, according to FHSAA Public Relations Specialist Ashton Moseley.
The news has been welcomed by coaches, many of whom were against the new playoff structure when it was announced in 2019.
The FHSAA has said that this change will be temporary, only for this season, and that next season they expect a return to the rankings-based playoff structure.
This season, the playoffs will not be void of rankings playing a part. With most teams setting their schedules up before the 2021 playoff decision was made, playing district games was not a requirement.
The FHSAA plans to use its Power Rankings to seed teams for the district tournament. That provides some randomness, but, ultimately, regardless of seed, teams have a clear understanding that if they finish in the top two in the district tournament, they will advance, and that plays well with many coaches.
Regional play will also be similar to prior seasons. Once district playoffs are over, regionals will run from May 6 until May 19. In each classification, District 1 Champion will host District 2 Runner-Up. District 2 Champion will host District 1 Runner-Up. District 3 Champion will host District 4 Runner-Up. District 4 Champion will host District 3 Runner-Up, etc.