Find­ing a level of par­ity

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

Maybe the big­ger is­sue is com­pet­i­tive im­bal­ance between the di­vi­sions. While the Ch­e­sa­peake Divi­sion in base­ball and soft­ball is home to the bulk of the con­fer­ence’s top teams, the Po­tomac Divi­sion has no real par­ity. La Plata (cur­rently 8-0 in divi­sion play) and McDonough (8-1) are the lead horses in a two-horse race in base­ball, while La Plata (7-1) and North Point (7-2) are in the same po­si­tions in soft­ball.

La Plata base­ball has been among the most ac­com­plished SMAC pro­grams since it won the 3A cham­pi­onship in 2008. The Warriors have won four more re­gional cham­pi­onships since then, and have reached two more state fi­nals. For a pro­gram that has con­sis­tently been com­pet­ing in that realm, not be­ing tested with a sim­i­lar level of com­pe­ti­tion could cre­ate an is­sue in the post­sea­son.

“We don’t have the par­ity in the Po­tomac Divi­sion that ex­ists in the [Ch­e­sa­peake] Divi­sion, but that’s a dou­ble-edged sword,” La Plata head base­ball coach John Childers said on the topic. “The im­bal­ance will lead to some Po­tomac Divi­sion teams re­ceiv­ing in­flated play­off seed­ing. How­ever, the teams in the [Ch­e­sa­peake] Divi­sion are see­ing higher-qual­ity pitch­ing on a more reg­u­lar ba­sis which will be a huge ad­van­tage in the play­offs. Ta­lented teams like Patux­ent and Calvert will be bat­tle-tested be­fore head­ing into the play­offs by play­ing tough games three days a week.”

In the fall, Ch­e­sa­peake Divi­sion cham­pion Hunt­ing­town faced Po­tomac Divi­sion cham­pion Lackey in the first-ever SMAC cham­pi­onship game. Hunt­ing­town’s field hockey team, which had gone 5-1 in its Ch­e­sa­peake sched­ule, shut out Lackey 4-0, which was per­fect in the Po­tomac Divi­sion. Lackey suf­fered a grand to­tal of five losses on the sea­son — all to Ch­e­sa­peake Divi­sion teams and none by fewer than three goals. Calvert, which at 2-4 in the Ch­e­sa­peake fin­ished sixth in the divi­sion, de­feated Lackey 3-0 when the teams met on Oct. 13.

Ev­ery sport is dif­fer­ent, but there are very few that seem to have any par­ity across both di­vi­sions. It isn’t just an is­sue in re­gard to try­ing to get the most de­serv­ing teams play­ing for the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship, ei­ther. The All-SMAC teams are now just a list of two first teams — one for each divi­sion. So now play­ers in a loaded divi­sion, say soft­ball in the Ch­e­sa­peake Divi­sion, face much longer odds of at­tain­ing post­sea­son recog­ni­tion when their per­for­mance may well be de­serv­ing.

Whether for recog­ni­tion or com­pe­ti­tion, find­ing some level of par­ity would be ben­e­fi­cial for ever ybody in­volved.

“I hon­estly don’t know what could be done. I un­der­stand the thought process be­hind the di­vi­sions, but with some sports, es­pe­cially with soft­ball, it’s def­i­nitely not bal­anced or fair com­pe­ti­tion for ever ybody,” Bruno said. “I think that in or­der to make it more ef­fec­tive, I think we should be able to choose, in­stead of play­ing divi­sion teams twice, play ev­ery­body once and then choose out­side games, some­how, some­way. Look at the sched­ule and just bal­ance it and make it a lit­tle bit more fair.”

For the pre­vi­ous eight years, each soft­ball sea­son has ended with North­ern’s girls rais­ing a new state cham­pi­onship tro­phy. A com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor through those years is the team al­ways sched­uled the best non­con­fer­ence com­pe­ti­tion it could find. That the team has also en­joyed suc­cess is not co­in­ci­den­tal as far as Rad­ford is con­cerned.

“It’s been in­valu­able,” he said. “What it does, on a na­tional ba­sis, when you’re play­ing teams the likes of [Bishop] O’Con­nell (Va.) and Lau­rel, of Delaware, and you beat those teams that have na­tional recog­ni­tion it’s great for both the school and the con­fer­ence. But when you can’t go out­side of your con­fer­ence to play any­body it re­ally hand­cuffs you, par­tic­u­larly when you have a ta­lented bunch of ath­letes. It’s not fair to them. I think some­body needs to re-look at the thing and al­low for some kind of re­vi­sion to let us sched­ule. ... It’s all about get­ting ready for the play­offs. This game to­day [a 2-1 North­ern win at Leonard­town on April 11] was a good game. So was the Chop­ti­con game [on April 6, a 4-3 North­ern win in eight in­nings]. Any­time you can pre­pare your kids to get bet­ter, that’s what you’re look­ing to do.”

“I un­der­stand it’s a two-year deal and they want to put the sched­ule out, but what they could do at the SMAC meet­ings is, if I was a coach with all fresh­men, I’d be in that room say­ing, ‘Guys, we’re not go­ing to be very good this year. I would sug­gest if you can find another game, go get it and i’ll be glad to let it go on my end.’ … I’m think­ing as a coach. I want my kids to get bet­ter and be chal­lenged. I un­der­stand there are haves and have-nots and one day we’ll be have-nots, but right now we’re not.”

Capt. Dale Coon of Fishama­jig Guide Ser­vice (240-587-8307) has been catch­ing some im­pres­sive post-spawn crap­pies, in­clud­ing 15-plus inch ci­ta­tion fish. He ex­pects this will be the last week to cash in on the big crap­pies.

Patux­ent River — You might try your luck fish­ing for croaker on the pier at Green­well State Park in Hol­ly­wood. Their fa­vorite eats are blood­worm, squid, shrimp, clam snouts and cut bait such as alewife and spot. The $25 gift card and brag­ging rights for the first croaker of the sea­son award at the Tackle Box are still up for grabs. Lamb re­ports that there are cat­fish in the up­per Patux­ent up to 50 pounds that are be­ing taken on fresh cut bait.

Tip of the week

Capt. Den­nis Flem­ing of Fishama­jig Guide Ser­vice (240-5381260) said be­cause farm ponds heat faster than large lakes, this is the per­fect time to go fish­ing in your fa­vorite pond.

It is also a great time to take the kids fish­ing. Scrounge up some lo­cal worms in ditches where the leaves have been lay­ing all win­ter. These are the very best worms and when fished on small light wire hooks and a small bob­ber, the ac­tion will be fast and fu­ri­ous for small pond bass, crap­pies, and bluegills.

Cane poles ($8.19 at the Tackle Box) are the ticket for the young­sters, or you can even go high-tech with a $15 tele­scop­ing fiber­glass pole. Re­mem­ber, it is about them, not you. So leave your rod at home, and be­sides, you will be way too busy help­ing the kids.

jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

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