The changes that will take place this softball season in the Metro League has been a long time coming.
The Mountain, Valley and Sound Divisions are now weighted, based on teams’ finishes in the Metro tournament and predictions of their success the next two years. The Mountain is the top division, Valley is intermediate and Sound is the lowest. Mountain teams include Bainbridge, Ballard, Holy Names, Seattle Prep and West Seattle. Valley teams are Blanchet, Chief Sealth, Eastside Catholic, Garfield, Nathan Hale and Roosevelt. The Sound teams are Cleveland, Franklin, Ingraham, Lakeside and Rainier Beach.
Mountain teams will play a 14-game schedule, facing everyone in their division twice and Valley teams once. Mountain teams will not play the Sound division. Gone are the days of Bainbridge softball putting a 15-0 wallop on Beach or a 19-1 pummeling on Nathan Hale. Those games benefit no one and I’m glad to see that go away as I’m sure both teams are as well.
Valley teams will play 15 league games (they play everyone once) and Sound teams will play each other twice and Valley teams once for a 14-game league schedule.
Teams in the Valley and Sound that have the highest division record will move up another division, but will need to meet some criteria first;
- Head-to-head league record with the last-place team from the higher division
- Head-to-head in Metro tournament with the last-place team from the higher division
- Overall finish in Metro tournament with the last-place team from the higher division
The changes toward weighted divisions also meant changes to the league schedule. Here’s how that shapes up;
- Teams will no longer play the same team back-to-back (Wednesday and Friday)
- Teams will face division competition once in the beginning of the season and once at the end
- Mountain and Sound will have room in their schedules to play 6 non-league games while Valley will have 5 non-league games
- Spring Break league games will be scheduled during their respective breaks. This allows the league to start play later in the season and continue without breaks. The breaks are March 30-April 3 (Bainbridge); April 6-10 (private schools) and April 13-17 (Seattle Public Schools)
- Games will be played on Mondays and Tuesdays, leaving Wednesday as a rainout day
And lastly, the all-important playoffs.
The Metro will play a 12-team league tournament. Top four teams in Mountain will have the No. 1-4 seeds, Valley has 5-6th seeds depending on their head-to-head record with the No. 5 Mountain team. The 7-11 seeds will be awarded to the Valley teams based on division standings while the 12th seed will be the top team from the Sound. The Metro has nine berths to the SeaKing District tournament and six berths from district to state in 2015 and five berths in 2016.