The Pratt 86ers are currently playing in the Zone tournament at Wellington, in a format that makes very little sense to Legion coach Pat Stivers, or to hardly anyone else that is involved.
“It’s kind of a crazy deal,” Stivers said. “It’s a head-scratcher. The other coaches and I were talking and we were like ‘What’s the point?’”
The Zone tournament was originally planned for 4 teams, but El Dorado was bumped up to Legion Class AAA this summer— leaving only Pratt, Larned and host Wellington to contend for Zone honors at Wellington.
Complicating the issue is that Pratt advances to the State Legion AA Tournament this coming weekend, regardless of the outcome at Wellington, by virtue of their hosting the State Tournament this year.
So three teams are in Wellington this week competing in a double-elimination tournament, and two of the teams are advancing. Basically, it comes down to this: either Wellington or Larned is advancing to State, and so is Pratt.
The coaches basically see the double elimination format as nothing but an exercise in futility— burning up valuable and scarce pitching to no good purpose. A double elimination format involving three teams is simply resulting in too many needless games being played, according to Stivers.
Pratt split the games they played over the weekend, besting Larned 6-4 then falling to Wellington by a similar score. Pratt led against Wellington until the 5th inning when a pair of defensive miscues allowed Wellington to plate three runs and take a lead they never relinquished.
Jarod Gilmore, Easton Herring and Dakota Venard had good days at the plate for the 86ers, according to Coach Stivers.
Adding to the frustration for the 86ers was that the games were delayed by rain, not starting until after 6 which meant the team didn’t get back to Pratt until after midnight on Sunday. “It was a late night for us,” Stivers noted.
Zone play continues Monday for the 86ers, as they will face the same teams again to see which of the two will advance to State in Pratt next weekend.