CLASS 1A BASEBALL WEEKLY UPDATE
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Class 1A has reached the final week of the regular season and if it had a theme song, it just might be “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”, as much of the state is expecting showers and storms for most of the week. With it being the final week before district tournaments, getting all of the games in could be a challenge. Instead of doing a preview of the top games for each day, we’re going to take a look at how each district stacks up with just a handful of games left for each team. All rankings come from the Tuesday morning update of the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index. Remember, all games this week are “weather pending”.
The CHSAA baseball bulletin lays out the format for postseason qualifying, and since District 1 only has four teams, only the district champion automatically qualifies for the regional round of the state bracket. Of those four teams, only Dove Creek sits inside the top-16 of the Selection and Seeding Index. The Bulldogs are 13th in the latest release of the metric. They might be able to survive a stumble in the district tournament and receive an at large berth, but that scenario would lead to some tense moments for the Bulldogs and their followers.
Nucla, who lost all three meetings this season with Dove Creek, including a doubleheader last week, is 19th in the metric, and most likely has to win the district title to advance. The same goes for #22 Sierra Grande. The Panthers have not played Dove Creek nor Nucla this season, and they won’t until districts. Centennial has the toughest road to regionals. The Rams have not played enough games this season to qualify for the Seeding Index and they enter the final week of regular season play. They’ll have to pull of two upsets in the district tournament to make it to regionals.
Dove Creek wraps up its regular season slate on Tuesday when the Bulldogs host Monticello (UT). It’s a chance to avenge an early season loss to the Buckaroo, whose only win on the season came at home against Dove Creek, 5-3. Sierra Grande has winless John Mall from 2A on Tuesday and finishes on Thursday at 2A Las Animas, which could be a good match-up. Nucla has a pair at home against Rangely on Friday. Centennial has concluded its regular season.
District two knows that its top two finishers in next week’s tournament will advance to regionals. It’s just a question of who those two will be. Four teams enter the final week of regular season play inside the top-16 of the Seeding Index.
The team with the highest standing in the metric is Simla, who sat #5 on Tuesday. The Cubs picked up an important 9-4 win over Cheyenne Wells in non-league play on Saturday and then stayed perfect in league action by blanking Elbert 20-0 on Monday. They are tied atop the district standings with Evangelical Christian (#15), and they meet on Tuesday. Simla also has a big one on Friday against Stratton. ECA is 8-1 in its last nine games after an 0-2 start. One of those early losses came to 4A Harrison, 12-11.
Elbert sits third in the standings after Monday’s loss to Simla, but the Bulldogs are actually ahead of ECA in the Seeding Index, checking in at #12 on Tuesday. They have been outscored 33-0 in their last two games, but had posted four straight wins prior to that skid. In those four wins, the Bulldogs had allowed a total of three runs, with consecutive shutouts in the last two.
Cotopaxi is the last of the four teams that would advance to regionals if the current Seeding Index were to hold through next week. The Pirates are 16th in the metric and fourth in the standings. They’ve won two straight and finish the regular season with games against Miami-Yoder (#27) and South Park.
Miami-Yoder, Cripple Creek/Victor, and Kiowa are a combined 2-20 on the season and the only way any of the three reaches regionals is by winning the district tournament.
Only four of the five teams in District 3 have played enough games to qualify for the Seeding Index, as Denver Jewish Day has only played three games as of Tuesday morning. Still, with the Tigers’ inclusion, the district gets it’s top-two finishers into the regional bracket.
Flatirons Academy is one of those top teams, as the Bison enter the final week sitting sixth in the Seeding Index. They have played a difficult schedule which will afford a bit of breathing room. With a spot so far up the standings, the Bison can survive a loss in the opening round of the district tournament and still advance to regionals as an at large team.
Rocky Mountain Lutheran has to be in the championship contest to make regionals, with the Eagles entering Tuesday ranked 20th. They could make a small climb by beating 2A #13 Dawson School on Wednesday. The Eagles close out on Thursday against #24 Briggsdale.
Gilpin County (30th) and Longmont Christian (26th) are a combined 2-20, with Longmont Christian owning both victories. The only way either squad advances is by making the district title game.
Five teams from District 4 not only sit in the top-16, but all are in the top-10 of the Seeding Index. One more is just one spot out, and two others are inside the top-25. To indicate the depth of the district, Granada is winless and sits 23rd in the metric.
Holly (4th), Cheyenne Wells (7th), Wiley (8th), McClave (9th), and Stratton (10th) all know that they have spots in the regional bracket awaiting them. The final week has some big match-ups for several of those teams. Holly and McClave clash for two games on Friday, while Cheyenne Wells was slated to be at Stratton for two on Tuesday. Wiley, who took a doubleheader sweep over Cheyenne Wells last Friday, was set to host Baca County for two on Tuesday and Granada for a pair on Friday.
That Tuesday doubleheader is huge for Baca County, as the Wolverines began the week sitting 17th in the Seeding Index. Gaining a split would be an enormous boost to their regional qualifying hopes. Even with that, the Wolverines would probably need to make it to the semifinals next week to be in position for an at large berth.
It’s hard to write off La Veta, despite the Redhawks beginning the week sitting 20th in the Seeding Index. They have won their last three games, including a 12-11 walk-off against McClave last Thursday. The Redhawks entered the bottom of the seventh down 11-2, before scoring 10 in their final at bats. But, La Veta most likely has to beat ECA in the regular season finale on Friday and then get into the district final next week to get into the regional field. Making the semifinals may not be enough to earn an at large berth.
For Granada and Manzanola (28th), the only path to regionals is making the district championship game and grabbing one of the two automatic qualifying spots.
Four teams are a virtual lock to make regionals out of District 5, with Haxtun, Merino, and Akron holding down the top three spots in the Seeding Index, and Otis sitting 11th, the district semifinals and finals could be a blast if all four advance through the quarters. Caliche currently holds an at large position, as the Buffs began the week 14th.
Haxtun and Merino split their doubleheader earlier in the year, and all four of Akron’s losses to date were against those two squads. Otis has only played one game against any of the top three, losing to Haxtun 15-0. The Bulldogs do have an important non-league doubleheader scheduled with Cheyenne Wells on Thursday. A sweep could vault them into the top-10 of the Seeding Index. They helped themselves by sweeping Caliche on Monday.
Prairie is a team that could throw a wrench into things. The Mustangs began the week 18th in the Seeding Index and they visit Akron on Tuesday. Akron won an earlier non-league clash with the Mustangs 15-0.
Finding themselves in a situation where the only route to the regional bracket is by making the district title game are Briggsdale (24th), Peetz (25th), and Weldon Valley (31st).