45th’s new regular-season format will help teams prep for postseason

Published 10:09 pm Monday, April 9, 2018

Are you ready for some baseball?

It’s here.

District play ramps up to a new level tonight, with FOUR games across the area. In the 45th District, baseball games will take a new approach in 2018.

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Teams will play back-to-back days, weather permitting. So, this week, Boyle County visits Garrard County Tuesday and Danville travels to Lincoln County. Wednesday, it’s flipped: Boyle and Danville host.

The change has been talked about for some time — and it’s a change that has been implemented in other districts throughout the state.

“I’m excited to see how it goes this year in its first year of this format,” Boyle head coach Kyle Wynn said. “It allows us to get in a similar format of district and region tournaments by going back-to-back nights.

The 45th District is deep — all four teams have made a 12th Region championship game in the last six years. Boyle County and Lincoln County battled it out in the region title last year, with the Rebels coming out on top.

With this change,  teams will be forced to use more than just their ace pitcher for district games, and bullpens will be tested. That’s a good thing, Garrard head coach CJ Lynn said.

“I like the idea of playing back-to-back days,” Lynn said. “One, it allows us to see more than one pitcher from each team. It makes it more like a college series.

“It also allows us to get our district games out of the way in three weeks instead of spreading them out till almost the end of the season.”

The second part is particularly important — area teams had the freedom this offseason to schedule tournaments past spring break, and they took advantage. Three of the four teams will have a tournament sometime in the next month.

Danville head coach Paul Morse is the longest tenured head baseball coach in the 45th District, and he said it’ll be a good opportunity to see what every team has to offer, from the top down.

“Everybody’s trying to figure out, see who has the best team, not necessarily the best pitcher that one time,” Morse said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I think this district has tried every possible way: From a blind draw to playing everybody once to playing home and away on Tuesday/Thursday. Then the last couple years, it was play everybody twice but only play one team a week for six weeks.”

The main reason for the change is to help prepare the teams for postseason play. In the district tournament, teams have to win back-to-back games to win  it. Region is three games in similar fashion.

“This is something new and we’ll try it, see how it goes,” Morse said. “I think it’s a good deal and gives you a little more realistic feel to postseason play and how that’s going to play out. I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to seeing how the coaches manage the games and their pitching staff and pitch count factored in as well.”

For a district as deep as the 45th, it’s a switch that makes sense to prepare each team for the postseason.