BY GENE PHELPS
The Mississippi High School Activities Association recently passed legislation to enhance this spring’s fast-pitch softball state championships and the state track meet.
In softball, the MHSAA legislative and executive committee last week voted to play this season’s best-of-three game championship series in three days instead of two.
This season’s tournament is scheduled to be played May 12-14 at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland. All of the Game 1s will be played Thursday, one at a time, tentatively starting at 9 a.m. with two-hour game blocks (9, 11, 1, 3, 5 and 7). Game 2s would be played Friday and any Game 3s, if needed, on Saturday.
“This is something we supported,” MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves said. “I think its good for the teams and their fans.”
In previous seasons, as many as three games were played at the complex at the same time.
Smithville coach Jeremy Duke, whose Lady Seminoles won last year’s 1A state championship, prefers the updated format.
“It’s not that special when you’ve got three games going on at the same time,” he said. “Now the focus would be on the one game.”
Duke believes it will be safer for fans, too, who in previous seasons had to be aware of foul balls from other fields. “We had a parent hit in the head last year,” he said.
This is the final season of the MHSAA’s contract with the Ridgeland facility. Neaves said they are exploring other venue options.
This season’s state track and field championships in Pearl will have a 4x800-meter relay for the first time.
The race will kick off the meet’s running events. The previous opening race, the 3,200 meters, will be moved to another spot in the lineup.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Tupelo coach Brian Jones said. “It gives you an extra opportunity to earn points if you have good distance runners.”
Jones incorporated the 4x800 two years ago at the Journal Relays.
“I think it’s good because it gives more athletes the opportunity to compete in the state meet,” Neaves said.