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Sept. 1, 2012
COVERING THE BASES
In a perfect tournament, all teams in all divisions have an equal chance to win.
That’s our goal at SSUSA.
It becomes difficult when you consider that there are potentially more than 30 divisions in any given tournament. That makes it almost impossible to sustain “pure” age and skill divisions in any tournament under 100 teams.
It also means that in all except the largest eight to 10 tournaments a year in Senior Softball, teams will be playing in mixed divisions.
So, how does that work?
We mix the divisions according to a formula that matches teams that are equivalent and add equalizers for teams that aren’t at an equivalent level in the bracket.
Our first priority is to mix teams in a division with no equalizers. So, for example, we might mix 60 Major teams with 55AAA teams to create a division. Our theory is that a five-year age difference is roughly equivalent to a one-sill-level difference.
If we still do not have enough teams to make up a division, we add the closest level possible with equalizers. For example, we might mix 50AAA and 55AAA teams, with the 50AAA teams giving an equalizer to the 55AAA teams.
In Regional and National Championship series tournaments, we generally will mix divisions for the seeding games and break them out for finals. In some cases, if teams request it, we will keep combined divisions in the same brackets and award first place to the top-finishing teams in each division.
For example, if there are two 50AA teams and three 55AA teams in the same bracket in a Championship Tournament, we will award first place to the top-finishing 50AA and 55AA teams.
In most cases, we do not know what divisions we will need to combine until the deadline for entries because many senior softball teams enter tournaments in the last few days.
One of the most common questions we get is “Why do we have to play three days if there are only three to four teams in our division?”
If it were only a three- or four-team tournament, it would be no problem.
However, there could be as many as 100 or 200 teams in the tournament in several divisions. Scheduling is a jigsaw puzzle of putting all of those different divisions on the same softball complexes and do it so teams don’t have huge breaks or play too many games in a day (another concern, especially in the older age groups).
In addition, out-of-town teams often have made hotel and vacation plans way in advance of the tournament.
Sometimes, if all of the teams in a small division want to finish up in two days, we can do it – if there is field availability and umpires are available. Our goal is to make the tournament a positive experience – win or lose – for every team.
That is why we welcome your suggestions for improving SSUSA tournaments.
Our promise is to do our very best to give you the best experience possible.