If rankings mean anything, this should be a banner postseason for area baseball and softball.
While the Roff and Tupelo baseball teams will enter their district tournaments Thursday ranked No. 2 in Class A and B, respectively, five area softball squads — Latta, Konawa, Stonewall, Tupelo and Roff — are all ranked in the top eight in Classes 4A or 2A. And all of those teams except Konawa will host districts this week.
The first round of playoffs for small-school baseball and slowpitch softball will highlight a huge week for area teams that will also include the always tough Hill-Prescott Memorial Tournament at Byng.
A traditional playoff prep for baseball teams in Classes 2A through 4A (who begin district tournaments on Thursday, April 28), the Byng tournament has drawn a quality field again this season. Area powers Latta (ranked No. 3 in Class 2A), Coalgate (No. 6 in 3A), Byng (No. 18 in 4A) and Sulphur (No. 10 in 3A) will head a field that also includes Seminole (No. 16 in 4A), Glenpool, McLoud and Kingston.
Byng will open the tournament against Seminole at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, and that battle of ranked teams will be followed by Sulphur-Glenpool at 3 p.m., Coalgate-McLoud at 5:30 and Latta-Kingston at 8 p.m.
Roff and Tupelo will open the baseball playoffs as overwhelming favorites in two-team, best-of-three district tournaments that begin — and are expected to end — Thursday on their home fields.
Healdton will visit Roff — which entered Saturday’s championship game at its own spring tournament at 18-6 — for games at 2 and 4 p.m. Thursday, with a second championship game Friday if necessary.
At Tupelo, the host Tigers will meet Mill Creek at 4 and 6 p.m. Coach Clay Weller said he is looking for some consistency from his veteran squad, which followed a doubleheader split at Dale (No. 2 in 2A) Monday with a loss to Coleman (which has handed the Tigers three of their seven losses this season) the next day.
“We’re just trying to be more consistent in all three areas — pitching, hitting and defense,” Weller said. “If we do that, we’ll be okay.”
While Roff and Tupelo open the playoffs at home, the Stonewall baseball team will travel to Indianola, where the Longhorns (ranked No. 15 in Class A) will be the top seed in a three-team district. Stonewall will face the loser (at 4 p.m.) and the winner (at 6 p.m.) of a 2 p.m. contest Thursday between the host squad and Canadian for the district title, with an if-necessary game scheduled for Friday.
Like their baseball counterparts, the Stonewall, Tupelo and Roff softball teams — ranked 3, 5 and 8, respectively in Class 2A — will also be solid favorites to win district titles.
Stonewall will meet the loser, then the winner, of a 1 p.m. opening-round game between Macomb and Bowlegs Thursday. If all three teams have one loss after their round-robin, they will start over on Friday; if one team is eliminated, the other two will play a best-of-three for the district title.
At Tupelo, the Lady Tigers will take on Boswell at 12:30 p.m., with Stuart and Caddo to meet at 2 p.m. The losers of those games will play each other at 1:30, and that game will be followed by a winner’s bracket contest at 3 p.m.
Allen and New Lima will open the district at Roff with an 11 a.m. contest Thursday, then the host Lady Tigers will take on Strother at 12:15, with the format the same as the district tournament at Tupelo.
In Class 4A, second-ranked Latta will face the loser, then the winner, of a 2 p.m. contest between Hartshorne and Vanoss, while No. 3 Konawa will travel to Stroud for a best-of-three with the host team in their two-team district.
Byng will open the Class 5A playoffs at home against Seminole and No. 2 Bethel. The Lady Pirates will take on Seminole at 3 p.m., with Bethel to meet the loser and winner of that game later in the afternoon.
Like Byng, Coalgate, Sulphur and Latta, the Ada baseball team won’t open the postseason until April 28, but the Cougars will be the area’s busiest team leading up to next week’s 4A district tournament against Madill at Cougar Field.
Ada will visit Holdenville for a 4:30 p.m. contest Monday before hosting Duncan and Lone Grove in 5 p.m. games Tuesday and Thursday. The Cougars will wrap up the week at Saturday’s Tecumseh Festival, then they will travel to Durant on Monday, April 25, for their final playoff prep.
Byng, Coalgate, Sulphur and Latta will also host district tournaments beginning on April 28, with the Pirates meeting Pauls Valley in Class 4A, the Wildcats entertaining Tishomingo and the Bulldogs taking on Lexington in 3A and the Panthers facing area rival Konawa in 2A.