I’ve had a week to think about this, but I think it’s safe to say Fayette was very pleased to see its new softball district assignment for the next two years.
I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would the Lady Falcons be happy they are joining a district with a team (New Franklin) that just went to the state semifinals a year ago? Don’t worry, I have some answers to your question.
- Fayette gets to play closer to home in the postseason, for a change. This will be my sixth fall in Fayette, and of the previous five years, Fayette has played districts at Higginsville four times. The one time Fayette didn’t go to Higginsville, they actually got to host districts, back in 2010. The Lady Falcons will play districts at New Franklin this fall and then play host at districts in 2015. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that I don’t have to travel to Higginsville for districts anymore. I’m perfectly fine with a 25-minute round trip to New Franklin.
- Last year, Fayette won its first district softball game since 1995. Now granted, Fayette was a Class 1 school during the first half of that drought, but they were always stuck in a loaded district against a Westran team that seemed to win a state title every other year. When Fayette bumped up to Class 2, snapping that streak became even more difficult. Taking a look at the District 9 teams, I can see Fayette receiving a seed among the top-four teams, putting the Lady Falcons in line for winning at least one district game again this year.
- The timing is perfect for Fayette to drop a class, because this could be one of the most talented Fayette teams I’ve seen in my six years at Fayette. Losing Kenzie Smentkowski and Minari Hirokawa are going to be huge, but Fayette still returns a lot of talent for 2014. Add to that the fact that most teams in the area lost an impressive senior class, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fayette win 10-plus games this fall.
Those a just a few reasons. If you didn’t already know, Fayette will be joined in Class 1 District 9 by Glasgow, Jamestown, New Franklin, Pilot Grove and Prairie Home. All but Pilot Grove are already on Fayette’s schedule, and the Lady Falcons could face the Lady Tigers in the Fayette Tournament.
For those who are curious, I did look up to see where the cut-off was between Class 1 and Class 2 for fall softball. To preface this, the only reason Fayette dropped to Class 1 is because a large number of smaller schools have switched over to spring softball for the next two seasons, causing a major shift in the cut-off lines between classes in fall softball. In the spring, MSHSAA released Fayette’s high school enrollment at 185 students. According to my research, Fayette is the third-largest school in Class 1 for fall softball. The only schools bigger than Fayette in Class 1 are Schuyler County (186) and Chaffee (188).
Let’s take a recap of what schools gained from district reassignment, and which ones did not.
Winners: Fayette, Glasgow
We’ve already mentioned why Fayette is a winner. I consider Glasgow to be a winner too, although the Lady Jackets would have LOVED this district setup a year ago as well. Glasgow was stuck in a district with Westran, Salisbury and Cairo for the past two years. All three teams were capable of at least reaching the state quarterfinals, if not further. And Westran did make it to the state championship game last year. I think it’s safe to say Glasgow’s new district isn’t quite as tough as that one. Still, powerhouses like New Franklin and Pilot Grove make this a tough district, but Glasgow’s odds look better in terms of competition than they have the past two years.
Not winners: Harrisburg
I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to use the antonym of “winners” to classify this category, so that’s why I went with “not winners”. Anyhow, the only reason I say that Harrisburg falls into this category is because it’s going to be difficult for the Lady Bulldogs to reach the district championship game this fall, something they have done in each of the past four seasons. The reason for that is now Harrisburg falls into the same district as Cairo and Sturgeon (as well as Higbee, Madison and Paris), two teams that appear to be destined for the top-two seeds. That being said, this is pretty much what Harrisburg had to overcome three and four years ago to win district titles, so why not make it more of a challenge?
Draw: New Franklin, Higbee
Both these teams are probably indifferent with their district assignments, because it’s not much different from what they’ve encountered the past two seasons. New Franklin, however, is probably a little ecstatic to see Harrisburg leave its district. Higbee goes from one district full of powerhouses (Cairo, Salisbury, Westran) to another (Cairo, Harrisburg, Sturgeon).