State Question/Suggestion Sheet and Response

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State Question/Suggestion Sheet and Response

Postby DBusSoftball » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:54 am

Keith and Gary have been handing out these letters at some leagues, tourneys, whatever. Keith handed this to me at a state tourney here, and asked me to email them some thoughts. I took a list of notes in my phone on some of my initial thoughts, and then also thought about it for the next couple of weeks. In order to reach the most people, I decided that I’d copy the letter here, as well as email them my thoughts as they asked. Listing it here will give you a bit of insight to my thought process, maybe prompt some discussion, or get me some counterpoints…because..well, I love a good argument.
Here is their letter: My response is the non bold reply after the three dashes ---

South Dakota Slowpitch Players and Teams:

Keith Morell and I, as well as others have traveled to almost every SD league or town to meet and get your ideas. Some have had a few coaches there, and were productive, and others were small and some no one showed up.

State tournaments should be something everyone wants to go to and enjoy playing in, not something you have to go travel to a National. The state tournament is your tournament, USA Softball SD only manages it. We want to figure out how to get teams to want to play state again.

There are certain things USA Softball of SD needs to follow by Code, but there are also things we can change. But, we want to know your thoughts before we can implement them. One of the things that has came out of one of the meetings last year was playing the hill games by themselves on Saturday night, we are trying it this year. The other was the need to have a statewide players classification base, it is a 2 year project, and this will be the second year.

Because of what we have heard at those meetings, we are looking at making some changes next year and years to come. But we need your thoughts so we can take to your area commissioners to approve, hear thoughts and ideas.

One is to reverse the state weekends. Then we can look at allowing players from the Rec and E to move up and play a second weekend, instead of waiting a year to be moved. Also for teams going to Nationals, it will give competitive games before leaving.

---I don’t mind this idea, but the player classification and ‘sandbagging’ issues MUST be addressed, and enforced completely and harshly. You will get teams knowing that they will play the upper state, but try to gain entry into the lower state tourney for whatever reason: more games, competitive advantage, missing players that weekend that will be there for the upper state. I also think that only the top 4 teams that are ‘Forced’ to move up should be allowed to play the upper state. A team that places outside of that has no business playing. Along those lines, perhaps forcing the top ¾ teams to move up a division, but only allowing the bottom 2 teams to move down will help grow state at the upper levels until you get the # of teams desired. After that, go with a ‘top 3 must move up, bottom 3 must move down’, type of rule. It will keep the number of teams consistent from year to year.

To do this we need to address the letter/number thing again. I agree with Jason, with the Nationals Player classification we should be able to do that easily. “D” is a problem for me now. Sending the D champ to an E National. We had a team get sent home from nationals’ years ago for doing the same thing and I do not want that to happen to any team again.
---It’s hard to do, but I think ALL leagues in the state need to go with the national ranking system. There should be no B league in rapid, because there are no nationally ranked ‘B’ teams. Let’s get everybody on the same page instead of every league calling it whatever they want. They should be ranked the same as state, and state should follow National. You can find this out by looking at the general placement of the top teams, and seeing where they are at on the competitive scale with other teams that have played State, and National tourneys.

Maybe we get rid of the D and go Open, E, Rec 1 and Rec 2, or something like that? Or something as simple as a D1, 2, 3, 4 tournament?
---I don’t like the idea of getting rid of the D, because there are tons of teams that should be playing the D National if they were to choose a National tourney to go to. If we went back to the D1, 2, 3, 4 system that we used to have previous to 4 (or so) years ago, then teams have no idea where to play when it comes time to choose a National. Changing to the letters that mimic the National ranking, has been a step in the right direction, but still has some things to solidify.One of the things to think about is, “How many B/C teams do we REALLY have in the state?” Are the 10th, 11th, and 12th placed teams in the ‘D State Tournament’ really ‘D’ National teams? If no, then you need to look at filtering them out. The letter that they play in state, should correspond with the letter they would play at National. And yes, that means South Dakota is so far behind in softball, that we need to realize we only have a couple B teams, a handful of C teams, and mostly D national teams. Again, that should be reflected in leagues also. Rapid City has 2 nights of ‘B’ league, with no B teams, and only a couple ‘C’ teams. It would help players understand where they are supposed to play. Then, when a team wins D league, they now play C, and also know where they are supposed to play at State, and the National.

A lot of teams are not playing state. Do we bring Rec 2 back on board? The only way you can play Rec 2 is if your team is in the bottom ¼, or ½ of your league, depending on the size of your league/town.
---Again, this depends on how many teams we have around the state that legitimately fall into this category, which is probably a lot.

I like the idea of seeded tournaments at the upper level(s). But I played with blind draws for years, and called it the luck of the draw. My generation lived it, but today most sports seed at a lot of the levels such as the NCAA, NAIA, and HS, even pros to a point.
---I think using the results of last years teams should seed you. Using the ‘majority of players based on ranking’. Possibly appointing one or two individuals throughout tall of the major leagues in the state to keep an eye on teams, look at the players rankings, just as a double check could help the state officials make those rankings. But, more or less, it should be based on a teams finish last year. At a minimum seed the top 4, and I’d say the top 8 would be relatively easy to do.

Do we use last year’s results, or use a selection committee of coaches/peers and seed from the current season? Maybe we name some invitationals as point tournaments?
---see above

Do you want to seed the top 4, and blind draw, or seed everyone? If blind draw, would you prefer a Facebook Live, or somewhere public to draw?
---see above

One of the things that came up was progressive home runs. Use E as an example. Set at 2 home runs with a max of 5.
---Home runs can go either 1 of two ways for me. The first: Use the National rule across all divisions at state. B/C would use the C national rule. D would use D, and so on. E, Rec, all of those would use the same national rule. Simple, familiar, and it would get teams ready for their National. The 2nd: Use the National rule, with a +1 variation. 6+1, 4+1, 2+1, whatever. It would allow the teams who can keep hitting them to hit them as much as they’d like, but as soon as they face a team that can’t, or isn’t, it levels the playing field with no home runs left. The +1 rule is underutilized as far as I’m concerned.

I would prefer a minimum of 12 teams to play open, and 12 teams to play D every year. I would like to see teams build to and want to play at the top level of play instead of everyone wanting to drop down for the trophy title. If teams will move up, I think we will see more teams play in the lower levels also. Hopefully, more teams will want to step up and play competitively.
---I do indeed like the set number of teams, however you have to have backup plans in case a team doesn’t return (Dakota Bus not returning this year). But the top 3 forced to move up, and bottom 3 forced down would help keep it consistent as long as there was a backup plan.

Make the E one, instead of East and West? Host in Pierre, or Mitchell every year? Do everything we can to keep at a minimum of 24 teams, then do a Rec 1, and Rec 2 the last weekend of July. Allow those teams to play E the following weekend.
---I don’t mind making E one tourney every year, but I think we need to look at statewide participation on both east and west. Are there enough to make them each successful on their own side of the state? If yes, then why change it? Then, you could allow the top 4 from each east and west to play in the D. That’s 8 potential extra teams in the D every year. Rather than just the top 3 or 4 from one centralized E tournament.

Do we need to look at 3 game guarantees? If so do we continue with 3 umpires per diamond at the upper level? I would like to see the women play Divisions 1 and 2 at the same site, the same weekend the men play the upper divisions.
---Not 3 game guarantees for state. Absolutely not. These tournaments are created to see who the best teams in the state are, play to win, no mercy. Win or get out. If you’d like to do this for the Rec divisions to get them more games, or private tournametns, go for it. But no lettered state tourney should every be anything but double elimination.
3 Umpires per diamond for the semi finals and finals is so much fun for the players. But these days umpires are looking at it as a full time job, and not doing it for the love of the game. The pay demands and travel demands are decreasing our quality umpire pool. I don’t know how to fix that, but we have to keep umpires wanting to do these big tournametns.

I think we need to make it if you go 1-2 or 2-2 the next year, you cannot move down. Just because you went 0-2 is not a guarantee you may move down. Set a % that has to move up or stay with so many teams in each class no matter how many teams played that weekend.
---I don’t think this should ever be criteria for anything. I think the top 2 or 3 finishers being forced up, and the bottom 2 or 3 finishers being forced down is a very fair way to determine it. Let’s say 3:
Open: The top 3 teams from D must play. The bottom 3 teams must play D.
D: Top 3 must move up to Open, bottom 3 must move down to E.
E: Top 3 must move up to D. I wouldn’t force any lettered competitive teams to move to Rec.
Any team that finishes between the top 3, and bottom 3, MUST stay in that division, or voluntarily move up. There can be no moving down unless you place bottom 3. If you volunteer to move up, you must stay there until you place bottom 3.
This solves all of the moving issues, and doesn’t force you to make a ‘hard decision that will hurt somebodys feelings’. The placement does it’s own work.

What constitutes a returning team? 4 returning players? 5 returning players? The sponsor? The coach? A combination of all? National code has a system for Nationals, do we use it for state or set up our own.
---What is the National Rule? If the team name and sponsor of Tryon Gym leaves, and starts a new team, with only himself or one other guy, then that isn’t the same team. The team that he left would be classified as the same team because it has more than 5/6 guys from last years team. The name, sponsor, captain, shouldn’t ever matter.

I like the idea of a group of coaches and/or players that are willing to voice their opinions on team seeding, like tournament placement, player ranking, discuss ideas, and the future of slowpitch. How do we choose them? Do they stay anonymous?

I agree we also need a plan on tournament rainouts. I agree that coin flips should be the last option, but need to consider the face that there is a possibility that there will be 400 to 450 mils between teams that it might affect.

---One thing people need to remember, is that the USA Softball, ASA, blah rules are typically adapted for fastpitch softball. Runs allowed is 100% a Fastpitch tiebreaker. In slowpitch softball, you can take the field, and make 0 errors, no bad throws, not do anything wrong, and the offensive team can score 20 runs in the inning. This was the case with Dakota Bus vs River Ridge 2 years ago. Both teams played great, and it was a high scoring game. 30-20 something Dakota Bus wins. The rest of the games were more blowouts. So when the state had to come up with a tiebreaker of the two undefeated teams, they took the easy way out and went with USA Softballs tiebreaker of runs allowed. Stupid. Dakota Bus had every other tiebreaker available between the two teams: Run Differential, Runs Scored, Time of finished games that ended by run rule. But, since they played a better team than Tryon did, that team scored more runs. By every other metric Dakota Bus should have had that state title. That’s over and done with, Tryon played great at nationals, and it was two years ago, but my point…pick tiebreakers that are relevant to Slowpitch softball, and do something ahead of the times, as opposed to always being so many steps behind.

To privately share your input, send me an email to or Keith at . We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we are working to get the game player friendly, and the players input. But, we want ideas and discussion at all levels, not just the top level.

There are never any guarantees, but your ideas are always welcome. We want your thoughts and ideas, but it has to be with clear heads and open minds. It needs to create discussion, and be thought out.

---State Forum:I think we need a readily available statewide forum. Similar to this rcasa forum, but with no East/West designation. This forum used to be super active, and another on the East side, (northstarseries?). Both forums have since died and I think we could use a State forum easily accessible. Not on the sd softball homepage, 2 links away, then another click over. or something, and make it simple, easy to access, with active moderators. General talk, softball talk, rules talk, tournaments, everything. Let the community get more involved.

Thanks in advance,
Gary Young (and Keith I assume)

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Re: State Question/Suggestion Sheet and Response

Postby Jedlueds » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:13 pm

How many teams played in a national tournament from all of South Dakota last year? Just curious

Keith SD Player Rep
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Re: State Question/Suggestion Sheet and Response

Postby Keith SD Player Rep » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:29 pm

I think 12 adult slowpitch teams.

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Re: State Question/Suggestion Sheet and Response

Postby DBusSoftball » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:30 pm

And it seems silly to base most of everything on the National when only 12 teams played in one. It isn't so much the idea that we need to prepare teams to go to the National, but rather use a ranking system that is already in place. Nothing about the gameplay, local league competitive level, or governing bodies would change.

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Re: State Question/Suggestion Sheet and Response

Postby Petry1151 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:51 pm

I think that having an active player database based off of the roster he is on in league and where they play state would solve a lot of issues. For example said players league team plays D in Pierre and he can't make it to the tournament he ended up playing with a team that placed top 4 in the rec division and nothing was done about the illegal player because no one wanted to hurt anyone's feelings. Or a guy plays on a dominant upper team in another town and that team played D or E state but he is on another team in rec that he played with in another town. There has to be a classification system for the individual as well. And it needs to be enforced with no exceptions.

I do like the idea of setting it up so that placing teams can go play up at the next level the following weekend. That way the teams can make adjustments to compete at the same level instead of having to wait a year and getting blown out of the water at state the following year because they didnt know what steps to take to compete at the next level.

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