WEEKLY WATCH: Conference tournaments coming up in baseball, softball | High School Sports News

The calendar has flipped to May, which brings conference tournament time for most area high school baseball and softball programs. Girls soccer is in the final two weeks with the conference championships coming into focus. Track and field athletes compete in their respective conference championship meets.

Also up this week, the first state titles of the spring will be won in boys tennis, while lacrosse playoffs begin and boys golf holds its regional rounds. Those events will have previews published throughout the coming week.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

Seeds: 1. Alexander Central; 2. South Caldwell; 3. Watauga; 4. Hibriten; 5. Freedom; 6. Ashe County.

Schedule: Monday: Ashe County at Watauga, 6:30 p.m.; Freedom at Hibriten, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Semifinals at South Caldwell — Ashe County or Watauga vs. South Caldwell, 4:30 p.m.; Hibriten or Freedom vs. Alexander Central, 7 p.m. Thursday: Championship at South Caldwell, 7 p.m.

People are also reading…

What matters: Hibriten (11-12 overall, 4-6 NWC) has clinched the 3A bid from the split conference. However, the Panthers need a strong tournament to help their state tournament seed. For a team from a split conference to be seeded as a “No. 1” seed form the league, it must finish in third place overall in the conference or have an overall record of .500 or better. Otherwise, the teams are seeded among the other second place and at-large teams by RPI rankings. The difference for Hibriten is a 10th seed or a 31st seed.

Meanwhile, Alexander Central (19-4, 8-2) and South Caldwell (14-7, 8-2) will have byes in the first round and appear headed for a showdown. However, Watauga could be the fly in the ointment, as the Pioneers split with South Caldwell this season and are 5-2 against the Spartans since 2019. Should the Cougars and South Caldwell make the tournament finals, it will break the tie for state tournament seedings, as the teams split their regular-season meetings.

The highest finisher of the two gets a huge advantage for state tournament placement, especially for the Spartans. With an RPI ranking of 24th, a tournament win would bump South Caldwell around a sixth or seventh seed. Likewise, the difference for Alexander Central would be approximately a fifth or 11th seed.

Freedom and Ashe County would have to win the conference tournament to make the state tournament.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

Schedule: Wednesday: No. 4 at No. 1 seed, 7 p.m. No. 3 at No. 2 seed, 7 p.m.; Friday: Championship at highest remaining seed, 7 p.m.

What matters: Only the top four seeds will play in the tournament and those schools are set: North Lincoln (16-4 overall, 11-2 WFAC), Fred T. Foard (14-5, 10-3), East Lincoln (16-4, 10-3), St. Stephens (18-5, 9-4). However, some seeds are still to be determined.

The WFAC wraps up the regular season Monday with North Lincoln going to East Lincoln and St. Stephens hosting Foard. The easy part is this: North Lincoln will get the tournament’s No. 1 seed. A win and the Knights will be the outright champions and will be looking at a top-five seed in the state tournament. A win by East Lincoln sets up a co-championship with either two or three teams, if Foard also wins.

In a co-championship scenario with East Lincoln only, North Lincoln’s 2-0 sweep of Foard would be the determining factor, as East Lincoln was 1-1 vs. the Tigers. Both North and East Lincoln split with St. Stephens. Regardless of tournament seed, because the two split would have split in the regular season, the team with the highest finish in the conference tournament would get the league’s No. 1 bid.

In a three-way tie, because North Lincoln would be 3-1 against the two schools, the Knights still hold the top seed. East Lincoln would get the second seed (2-2 mark vs. both) with Foard at No. 3 (1-3).

Wins by Foard and North Lincoln would put the Tigers in the second seed, East Lincoln third and St. Stephens fourth.

Wins by East Lincoln and St. Stephens sets up a tie for third with the Indians getting the No. 3 seed over Foard by virtue of the Indians win over North Lincoln earlier in the year.

Wins by North Lincoln and St. Stephens sets up a three-way tie for second. As the Indians, Mustangs and Tigers were all 1-1 against each other, the Indians would get the No. 2 seed by virtue of their win over North Lincoln with a draw held for the No. 3 slot.

Outside of the league’s top bid, the remainder of the teams, regardless of finish, are seeded by RPI rankings after all league No. 1s in the West Region are slotted. For now, East Lincoln is No. 4, St. Stephens No. 7, North Lincoln No. 8 and Foard No. 10.

Hickory (No. 25) and North Iredell (No. 27) appear to have made the state tournament. West Iredell and Statesville will miss the postseason.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A

Seeds: 1. Bandys; 2. Lincolnton; 3. Bunker Hill; 4. West Lincoln; 5. Maiden; 6. East Burke; 7. Newton-Conover; 8. West Caldwell.

Schedule: Monday: First round — West Caldwell at Bandys, 7 p.m.; Newton-Conover at Lincolnton, 7 p.m.; East Burke at Bunker Hill, 7 p.m.; Maiden at West Lincoln; 7 p.m. Wednesday: Semifinal at Henkel-Alley Field — Lincolnton or Newton-Conover vs. Bunker Hill or East Burke, 5 p.m.; Bandys or West Caldwell vs. Maiden or West Lincoln, 7 p.m. Friday: Championship at Henkel-Alley Field, 7 p.m.

What matters: Bandys (17-7 overall, 12-2 CVAC) has the tournament’s top seed and the Trojans will get the league’s No. 1 bid into the state tournament. Despite their No. 19 RPI ranking, the Trojans are looking at about a No. 9 or 10 seed, as the conference itself has a poor nonconference record. Lincolnton (13-7, 11-3) has the CVAC’s second bid and is assured a playoff spot. For now, the rest of the group is on the outside looking in.

With Madison out of the Western Highlands ranked No. 37 but gaining inclusion among the No. 1 seeds for seeding purposes, the target RPI ranking for bubble teams to reach is No. 31. For now. Bunker Hill (10-10, 9-5) is at No. 32. and West Lincoln (10-13, 9-5) is 35th.

The Bears and West Lincoln tied for third in the CVAC with the teams splitting the two regular-season meetings. Bunker Hill gets the third seed by virtue of a win over Lincolnton.

Maiden, East Burke, Newton-Conover and West Caldwell would have to win the conference tournament to receive a state tournament bid.

Neither the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference nor Mountain Foothills 7 2A Conference have a league tournament, but the fate of the two area schools are known heading into the last week of the regular season.

Draughn has wrapped up the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference championship and will take the league’s No. 1 seed into the playoffs. Currently, the Wildcats (17-3 overall, 10-1 WHC) are slotted as a No. 4 seed in the 1A West bracket. From the 1A side of that conference, Mountain Heritage and Mitchell will join Draughn in the postseason. Madison has wrapped up the 2A bid.

Patton is winless (5-14 overall, 0-10) in the MF7 and is not likely to make the postseason. East Rutherford (10-2 MF7) has wrapped up at least a co-championship with R-S Central (8-2) and Chase (8-2) playing twice against each other this week with a chance to catch the Cavs with a sweep. Brevard, Polk County and Henderson appear safe in the state tournament field.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Seeds: 1. Alexander Central; 2. South Caldwell; 3. Hibriten; 4. Watauga; 5. Ashe County; 6. Freedom

Schedule: Monday: Freedom at Hibriten, 6 p.m.; Ashe County at Watauga, 6 p.m. Thursday: Semifinals at Alexander Central — Freedom or Hibriten vs. South Caldwell, 4:30 p.m.; Watauga or Ashe County vs. Alexander Central, 6:30 p.m; Friday: Championship at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.

What matters: Barring upsets, state powers Alexander Central (20-2 overall, 9-1 NWC) and South Caldwell (13-2, 9-1) look to have a third meeting ahead on Friday with the winner getting a higher seed for the state playoffs. Should there be a fourth meeting ahead, a home game is in the balance. The Cougars are currently the top-ranked team in the 4A West Region, while South Caldwell is No. 6 and the winner likely keeps that spot. The loser drops to about 10th.

Hibriten (13-8, 6-4) has sewed up the 3A bid and should be no worse than a No. 9 seed. Despite the record, Ashe County (4-13, 3-7) is just off the bubble at No. 33. The Huskies will need to get a No. 31 RPI or higher to get in, and they’ll have a shot to get there with a win over Watauga on Tuesday.

Watauga and Freedom will have to win the tournament to make the state tournament.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

Seeds: 1. East Lincoln; 2. North Lincoln; 3/4. Fred T. Foard or St. Stephens

Schedule: Wednesday: Foard or St. Stephens at East Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.; Foard or St. Stephens at North Lincoln, 6:30 p.m. Friday: Championship at highest remaining seed, 6 p.m.

What matters: Only the top four play in the tournament and, based on the latest RPI rankings, only East Lincoln (18-0 overall, 13-0 WFAC), North Lincoln (17-6, 11-2), Foard (9-9, 9-4) and St. Stephens (13-7, 9-4) will make the state playoffs.

St. Stephens will host Foard on Monday night to determine the No. 3 seed.

East Lincoln, which will close the regular season at home vs. North Lincoln, is currently ranked fourth in the West Region. The remaining schools, regardless of finish in the standings, will be ranked according to RPI finish. As of April 30, North Lincoln is 11th, St. Stephens 19th and Foard 26th.

Hickory, North Iredell, West Iredell and Statesville will not make the postseason.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A

Seeds: 1. West Lincoln; 2. Bandys; 3. Maiden; 4. East Burke; 5. West Caldwell; 6. Lincolnton; 7. Bunker Hill; 8. Newton-Conover

Schedule: Monday: First round — Lincolnton at Maiden, 5 p.m.; Newton-Conover at West Lincoln, 6 p.m.; Bunker Hill at Bandys, 6 p.m.; West Caldwell at East Burke, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Semifinals at Lenoir-Rhyne University — Bandys or Bunker Hill vs. Maiden or Lincolnton, 5 p.m.; West Lincoln or Newton-Conover vs. East Burke or West Caldwell, 7 p.m. Thursday: Championship at Lenoir-Rhyne, 7 p.m.

What matters: Bandys (18-4 overall, 13-1 CVAC) and West Lincoln (17-5, 13-1) have the two automatic bids. Because the two teams split the regular season, the team with the highest finish in the CVAC tournament will get the league’s No. 1 bid for the state tournament. Should they get eliminated in the same round, the two would have a play-in game prior to the tournament final. The Trojans are currently ranked seventh in the 2A West RPI, while West Lincoln is 15th.

Maiden (13-7, 10-4) is comfortably into the state tournament at No. 20. East Burke (10-11, 8-6) is on the edge of the 32-team 2A West bracket, ranked 32nd. A win in the first round would help the Cavaliers’ cause.

West Caldwell, Lincolnton, Bunker Hill and Newton-Conover would have to win the conference tournament to play in the postseason.

Neither the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference nor Mountain Foothills 7 2A Conference have a league tournament. Below is the status for area teams in those leagues.

Draughn (15-7 overall, 9-2 WHC) has a shot at co-championship with Mountain Heritage (13-2, 8-1), with the winner getting the league’s 1A bid. The Wildcats travel to Mountain Heritage on Tuesday, while the Cougars host Mitchell on Monday and Owen on Thursday. Draughn will need to beat the Cougars on Tuesday and have them to lose once to get a share or the title. Both schools, along with Rosman, are in the clear for the state tournament with Mitchell (30th) and Avery County (32nd) sitting on the bubble. Madison and Owen are tied for the 2A bid and play on Tuesday. Both look to be in the tournament.

A strong nonconference showing has Patton (9-12 overall, 1-9 MF7) on the good side of the bubble at No. 30. However, with Polk County (8-10, 3-7) at No. 35 and currently out, Patton would miss the playoffs, as a rule against leapfrogging teams ahead in the standings would keep the Panthers and Wolverines out. East Rutherford (18-3, 11-1) has won the league championship and is looking at a No. 3 seed. Chase, R-S Central and Brevard all appear safe.

While the focus of the week is conference tournaments, there are some conference battles that need some attention this week.

First place is down to Hickory (12-5 overall, 10-1 WFAC) and East Lincoln (12-3-2, 7-1-2) and the two will play their home-and-home series over the next week. Hickory will host the first match on Friday and a win then likely will sew up the conference title. If the title is still in doubt, East Lincoln will host the rematch on Monday.

Watauga (11-2 overall, 5-0 NWC) leads the pack with Hibriten (11-4-1, 5-1) and Freedom (10-3-1, 4-2) nipping on the heels. The Pioneers can punch the 4A ticket into the playoffs with a win Tuesday against South Caldwell.

Meanwhile, Hibriten holds the tiebreaker vs. Freedom by virtue of a win last month over the Patriots, who host the rematch Monday.

With four conference matches left, Lincolnton (11-5 overall, 9-1 CVAC) leads the way, followed by Maiden (11-3, 8-2) and Bandys (10-2-2, 7-2-1). With Lincolnton finishing the two-game sweep last week against Bandys, it is Maiden that has the clearest path to catch the Wolves. However, the Blue Devils will need to win at Bandys on Tuesday to set up a showdown at home next week against Lincolnton. A win on Tuesday by the Trojans would help their cause, but even if Maiden takes out Lincolnton, the schedule for the Wolves is favorable, as the other three matches are against the bottom half of the standings.

HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY SCHEDULE:

(Schedules listed for Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba County schools affiliated with the NCHSAA are taken from information provided by the conference secretaries, the athletic departments of individual schools, from information published by the schools on its websites, or on MaxPreps.com. Schedules are subject to change without notice.)

NCHSAA BOYS GOLF REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

2A West at Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club, Rutherfordton, 9 a.m. (Teams: Bandys, East Burke, Maiden, Newton-Conover, Patton)

3A West at River Bend YMCA Course, Shelby, 9 a m. (Teams: Fred T. Foard, Freedom, Hibriten, Hickory)

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

No. 6 Ashe County at No. 3 Watauga, 6:30 p.m.

No. 5 Freedom at No. 4 Hibriten, 6:30 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference Tournament

No. 8 West Caldwell at No. 1 Bandys, 7 p.m.

No. 7 Newton-Conover at No. 2 Lincolnton, 7 p.m.

No. 6 East Burke at No. 3 Bunker Hill, 7 p.m.

No. 5 Maiden at No. 4 West Lincoln, 7 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 2A

Hickory at Statesville, 6 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at St. Stephens, 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

No. 6 Freedom at No. 3 Hibriten, 6 p.m.

No. 5 Watauga at No. 4 Ashe County, 6 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference Tournament

No. 6 Lincolnton at No. 3 Maiden, 5 p.m.

No. 8 Newton-Conover at No. 1 West Lincoln, 6 p.m.

No. 7 Bunker Hill at No. 2 Bandys, 6 p.m.

No. 5 West Caldwell at No. 4 East Burke, 6 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

Fred T. Foard at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

Hickory at Statesville, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at Freedom, 5 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

Fred T. Foard at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

Hickory at Statesville, 6 p.m.

Draughn at Mitchell, 5 p.m.

Caldwell County Championship (Hibriten, South Caldwell, West Caldwell) at Hibriten, 4 p.m.

NCHSAA SECOND ROUND BOYS TENNIS DUAL TEAM STATE TOURNAMENT

No. 11 Crest at No. 3 Hickory, Hickory City Park, 4 p.m.

No. 10 St. Stephens at No. 2 Lake Norman Charter, North Mecklenburg Park, Huntersville, 4 p.m.

NCHSAA STATE LACROSSE TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND

No. 20 St. Stephens at No. 13 Northern Guilford

NCHSAA BOYS GOLF REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

4A West Brushy Mountain Golf Club, Taylorsville, 8 a.m. (Teams: Alexander Central, South Caldwell)

1A West at Mountain Glen Golf, Newland, 8:16 a.m. (Teams: Draughn)

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

No. 6 Watauga or No. 3 Ashe County vs. No. 2 South Caldwell, 4:30 p.m.

No. 5 Freedom or No. 4 Hibriten vs. No. 1 Alexander Central, 7 p.m.

Patton at Hendersonville, 7 p.m.

Draughn at Mountain Heritage, 6 p.m.

Patton at Hendersonville, 6 p.m.

Draughn at Mountain Heritage, 4 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Western Foothills Athletic 3A, Fred T. Foard High, 3 p.m.

Alexander Central at Ashe County, 6 p.m.

South Caldwell at Watauga, 6 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

Fred T. Foard at West Iredell, 5:30 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A

East Burke at Bunker Hill, 5 p.m.

West Lincoln at Newton-Conover, 5 p.m.

Maiden at Bandys, 5:30 p.m.

West Caldwell at Lincolnton, 6:30 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A Conference Tournament

No. 4 Seed (TBD) at No. 1 North Lincoln, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Seed (TBD) at No. 2 Seed (TBD), 7 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference Tournament

No. 7 Newton-Conover or No. 2 Lincolnton vs. No. 6 East Burke or No. 3 Bunker Hill, 5 p.m.,

No. 8 West Caldwell or No. 1 Bandys vs. No. 5 Maiden or No. 4 West Lincoln, 7 p.m.

Patton at Hickory, 6 p.m.

West Iredell at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A Conference Tournament

No. 4 (Fred T. Foard or St. Stephens) at No. 1 East Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.

No. 3 (Fred T. Foard or St. Stephens) at No. 2 North Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference Tournament

(at Lenoir-Rhyne University)

No. 7 Bunker Hill or No. 2 Bandys vs. No. 6 Lincolnton or No. 3 Maiden, 5 p.m.

No. 8 Newton-Conover or No. 1 West Lincoln vs. No. 5 West Caldwell or No. 4 East Burke, 7 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Mountain Foothills 7 2A, Polk County High, 2 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A, Watauga High, 2 p.m.

Western Highlands 1A/2A, Lees-McRae College, 3 p.m.

Draughn at Madison, 6 p.m.

St. Stephens at Wilkes Central, 5:30 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

Championship Game at South Caldwell, 7 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

No. 6 Freedom or No. 3 Hibriten vs. No. 2 South Caldwell, 4:30 p.m.

No. 5 Ashe County or No. 4 Watauga vs. No. 1 Alexander Central, 6:30 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference Tournament

Championship Game, Lenoir-Rhyne Univ. Softball Field, 7 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A, Bandys High, 4 p.m.

Ashe County at Hibriten, 5 p.m.

Freedom at South Caldwell, 5 p.m.

Alexander Central at Watauga, 6 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

Fred T. Foard at North Iredell, 6 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A

Lincolnton at East Burke, 5 p.m.

Maiden at Bunker Hill, 5 p.m.

West Caldwell at West Lincoln, 5 p.m.

Bandys at Newton-Conover, 5:30 p.m.

Hendersonville at Patton, 6 p.m.

NCHSAA STATE INDIVIDUAL BOYS TENNIS TOURNAMENT

1A Championships at Cary Tennis Park, 9 a.m.

2A Championships at Ting Park, Holly Springs, 9 a.m.

3A Championships at Burlington Tennis Center, 9 a.m.

4A Championships at Millbrook Exchange Tennis Center, Raleigh, 9 a.m.

NCHSAA STATE LACROSSE TOURNAMENT SECOND ROUND

Boys 1A/2A/3A West Region

No. 14 Eastern Guilford at No. 3 Hickory

No. 13 Patton at No. 4 Christ the King

No. 9 St. Stephens at No. 8 Mountain Island Charter

No. 20 St. Stephens or No. 13 Northern Guilford at No. 4 Weddington

Western Foothills Athletic 3A Conference Tournament

Championship Game at Highest Seed, 7 p.m.

Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference Tournament

Championship Game, Henkel-Alley Field, American Legion Fairgrounds, 7 p.m.

Hendersonville at Patton, 7 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament

Championship Game at Alexander Central, 6 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A Conference Tournament

Championship Game at Highest Remaining Seed, 7 p.m.

Hendersonville at Patton, 6 p.m.

Western Foothills Athletic 3A

East Lincoln at Hickory, 6 p.m.

St. Stephens at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

NCHSAA BOYS TENNIS STATE INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT

1A Championships at Cary Tennis Park, 9 a.m.

2A Championships at Ting Park, Holly Springs, 9 a.m.

3A Championships at Burlington Tennis Center, 9 a.m.

4A Championships at Millbrook Exchange Tennis Center, Raleigh, 9 a.m.

Next Post

How are Ph.D. students funded?

Sun May 8 , 2022
Former academic careers columnist Elizabeth Stivison wrote about how most bioscience Ph.D. programs are free, but how that is possible and how it looks in practice depends on the program. This column goes into different ways Ph.D. programs are funded and what that means for students. Note: I want to emphasize that […]