GHSA Round of 16 Playoffs
(best-of-three series with doubleheader starts)
Dalton (15-17) at Columbus (28-4-1), 4:30
Carrollton (27-7) at Northwest Whitfield (29-3), 5
Heritage (26-6) at Madison County (28-5), 5
Lakeview-F.O. (19-16) at Blessed Trinity (23-12), 2:30
Dawson County (19--8-1) at Ringgold (16-6), 4
Bremen at Calhoun (24-10), 5
Dade County (16-11) at Jefferson (19-14), 5
Charlton County (12-14) at Gordon Lee (26-2), 4
Trion (17-13) at Telfair County (23-5), 4
Dana Mull is reserving her judgment of the seeding process in the GHSA softball Class A state tournament until the tournament has concluded, but the Gordon Lee coach's first impression hasn't exactly been positive.
When the organization's executive committee voted to split public and private schools for postseason competition in Class A, the method chosen to determine the 16 teams in each bracket was a point system based on "quality" wins and strength of schedule. The eight region champions automatically qualified, and the rest of the field was determined by the end-of-season point rankings.
Once the 16 teams were finalized, each was seeded 1 through 16 and the bracket drawn accordingly.
Mull's 26-2 Lady Trojans, who are going for a three-peat title run, are the top seed; today's opponent, 12-14 Charlton County, is the 16th seed. Sounds simple and fair, where the top-seeded teams are given the best shot to reach the Elite Eight next week in Columbus, right?
Mull isn't quite ready to pronounce it a success.
"It was a big mess," she said. "Nobody's points were correct. For example, they had us with 14 points when we should have ended up with 18. MaxPreps was in charge of keeping up with the rankings, but the problem is not everyone was reporting their scores, so teams' points were wrong.
"The Charlton County coach said all year they were 21st or 22nd, and when they didn't win their region he assumed they were finished. Then they find out they made it and they hadn't been practicing or anything.
"I still don't know if they got it right. I guess you can look at it in different ways, but I prefer the traditional way of doing it. I mean, I'm sitting here at No. 1, and if I don't like it, who would?"
Though they won't admit it, a handful of coaches in Class AAAA might want to give it a try after the way that bracket turned out. If Walnut Grove had defeated Carrollton in the first round last week, the top four teams in AAAA would be facing off in today's round of 16. As it is, Carrollton, ranked sixth in the coaches' poll, faces top-ranked Northwest Whitfield, while third-ranked Heritage has to travel to No. 2 Madison County.
"If you look at it, after this round there will definitely be three of the top seven teams not in Columbus," Northwest coach Jason Brooker said, including Walnut Grove in the statement. "Seeding the teams sounds good, but I don't know if there is an accurate way to do it. Maybe the coaches that qualify could vote for it. To me, you want your best eight teams there, or at least they should have a shot."
Heritage coach Steve Chattin, whose highly ranked team was eliminated in the second round two years ago by a top-five Walnut Grove team, doesn't believe any change will come.
"There's nothing we can really do about it; it's just the luck of the draw," Chattin said. "People have thrown the [reseeding] idea around, but I personally doubt it would happen. They want to force a North-South first round in Columbus. I guess they want to see how it goes in Class A this year, but from what I hear no one is happy about it."
On that point, Mull would agree.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...