Just about every local 5A or 4A school has played one of its two allotted baseball or softball tournaments as Week 3 of the spring season is nearing an end.
Since the power-point rankings no longer count tournament games, the atmosphere at games is a bit toned down and a lot less stressful.
Scottsdale Horizon baseball coach Eric Kibler, who guided the Huskies to a 5A-I state title with a 31-3 record last season, has altered his approach to the season.
The Huskies have opened nearly every season with a tournament. They played six games the first two weeks. Kibler treated it much like major league spring training.
“I’ve experimented and I’m trying to find a team,” Kibler said. “Some things haven’t worked at times. But I’ve played more kids than I would have. Overall it’s worked out. I like it.”
Kibler’s attitude toward tournaments is echoed by many of his counterparts. Aces are getting their work. They are not being overtaxed. If positions battles are still unresolved, sometimes these games could sway a coach one way or the other. And who knows? Perhaps another pitcher will be found who can bolster depth for those coming weeks where three games that count in a four- or five-day stretch are the norm, not the exception.
Scottsdale Desert Mountain softball coach Rick Sharp is one of the dissenters when it comes to changing his approach to invitationals. Some of it has to do with roster size. Most softball teams don’t carry more than 13 to 15 players. Baseball teams almost always carry at least 18.
“I’d like to see tournaments count, because 30 games gives you a more accurate rating than 18,” Sharp said. “I carry 11 players and alternate pitchers, so playing time and experimenting isn’t much of an issue. Coaches who have more players, it’s probably different for them.”
Being the host of an invitational, Sharp bears a lighter load this year in scheduling his tournament. In the past, when tournament games counted, he felt added pressure to match up good teams with good teams. With the increasing competitiveness of the Desert Mountain Invitational this year, which has added Tucson Canyon del Oro, Tempe Corona del Sol and Mesa Mountain View, that’s no longer an issue.
MAXPREPS ALMOST TO THE MAX
Reporting scores and schedules and supplying rosters to high-profile and popular Maxpreps is a task most coaches are willing to do. But some are withholding their team’s statistics, believing they are too revealing to the opposition.
Sharp and Mesa Red Mountain softball coach Rich Hamilton still keep stats. They just don’t want them readily available to opponents at the click of a mouse.
“I don’t want to give my opponents a scouting report on my team,” Hamilton said.
“Reporting stats for our leaders and getting kids recognition that way is fine. But I think it’s to our kids detriment to let everyone else know how everyone is doing.”
TOUGH LOSS FOR BROPHY
One Phoenix Brophy’s top returning players, Harlyn Griffiths, has been lost for the season after dislocating his ankle and breaking his tibia in a collision Tuesday at Phoenix Desert Vista.
Brophy coach Tom Succow said Griffiths, a senior pitcher and outfielder, tried to avoid Desert Vista’s first baseman on a high pivot throw in the first inning of their game after hitting a ground ball. Griffiths will have surgery and pins inserted in the leg.
“I would think the recovery will take him into the fall,” Succow said. “He signed with Pepperdine in November. It’s a big loss for our team.”