04/08/05 — Opinion: Changes to schedule for Post 11

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Opinion: Changes to schedule for Post 11

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 8, 2005 1:51 PM

Twenty-six regular-season contests, including a pair of three-day invitationals, comprise the 2005 Wayne County Post 11 baseball schedule released earlier this week.

Coaches met Saturday afternoon to discuss the upcoming season and retool the regular-season and post-season formats in Area I East Division play. The coaches agreed to abandon the two-division configuration and the double-elimination tournament.

All 11 teams will play a home-and-away series. The top eight teams advance to the division tournament and will play a best-of-3 series in each of the first two rounds. A best-of-5 series will determine the Area I East and Area I champion.

"I'm happy with it," third-year Post 11 coach Brad Reaves said. "There is not so much pressure on you now to win your division. You can experiment with some lineups and kind of settle in come playoff time. That's what Coach (Doyle) Whitfield did.

"Now, all you have to do is finish in the top eight, but you also want to finish in the top four for home-field advantage."

Reaves said there was some contention in the group regarding the change. However, the former Post 11 standout said the "best-of" series eventually proves which team has the deeper pitching staff.

But there is a twist in Area I play this season. Only the overall champion earns a bid to the eight-team, double-elimination tournament in Cherryville. Reaves said it was Area I's turn to host the event, but no one felt they could raise enough money to cover operation expenses.

Cherryville's region will receive three bids.

"No one wanted to host it, so we lost the automatic bid," Reaves said.

Regular-season play can begin as early as May 19, however, most teams usually wait until the high school playoffs have concluded. Coaches also avoid interfering with exams and graduation, which occurs in early June in some North Carolina counties.

Wayne County begins defense of its Area I East title May 31 at Beaufort.

Reaves received rave reviews from year's inaugural invitational and has planned another three-day tournament from June 11-13. Jacksonville, Richmond County, Wilmington Post 10, Fuquay-Varina and Snow Hill have committed to play.

Reaves is negotiating with several more teams, but said if he can't get enough participation for an eight-team field, he'll settle with a round-robin format to give every team an equal amount of games.

Post 11 heads down to Richmond County for the inaugural George Whitfield Classic, a three-day tournament from June 24-26. Players get the opportunity to hit with wooden bats.

"The kids get a chance to put a little wood in their hands and see what happens," Reaves said. "I'm not sure who is playing, but I suspect there will probably be some pretty good teams there, too."

The regular-season concludes July 4.

Wayne County renews its series with Rocky Mount Post 58, which is just one of four Legion programs to claim an Area I East title since 1990. Martin County and Roanoke Rapids will not field teams this season.