MIAA Baseball Committee proposes 5 divisions for new statewide alignments

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The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Baseball Committee met Thursday, and agreed to a proposal for five divisions battling for state championships come 2021.

One Berkshire County high school, however, will be looking to have its alignment adjusted.

"Taconic, due to the vocational factor and the urban community factor, we are seeking to be considered to align Taconic at the Division III level," Pittsfield Public Schools director of athletics Jim Abel said when the Baseball Committee's meeting ended Thursday morning.

Under the realignment, vocational schools would drop two divisions from where they landed numbers-wise. That would move Taconic, considered a vocational school, down from Division II to Division IV.

"We have about 45 percent of our student body enrolled in full-time career and technical educational programming," Abel said after the meeting. "The MIAA and MIAA Tournament Management Committee I don't think realizes that Taconic is very much a voke school."

Abel said that despite Taconic's recent successes in boys and girls basketball along with the two state baseball titles won by coach Kevin Stannard's teams in the previous three seasons, he doesn't anticipate a lot of push back on moving.

"Ultimately, the Tournament Management Committee has made a point to take into consideration that vocational factor," he said. "Any school that is considered a voke school is being dropped down not one, but two divisions from where their enrollments align them at.

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"In sports like baseball and basketball, where we had competitive success recently, I would request to drop down one division instead of two."

The Baseball Committee voted 11-0 to approve the realignment proposal and send it onto the Tournament Management Committee for its approval, and eventual implementation. Currently, baseball is divided among four divisions.

There are 325 baseball-playing teams in Massachusetts, and the committee approved a plan that would pretty much equalize all five divisions. Division I would have 63 teams in it, Division II would have 66, Division III would have 65, while Division IV would have 66 teams and Division V would have 65. Those numbers are all prior to a successful appeal by a school to move up.

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Under this five-division plan, roughly 49 percent of the schools in each division would qualify to play in the 32-team state tournament that is coming into effect for the 2021-22 school year.

Pittsfield would be placed in Division III, the division Taconic wants to appeal to. If Taconic's appeal is successful, the Generals and Braves would be in the same division again for the first time since 2017.

Monument Mountain and Wahconah would be in Division IV. The Division V schools would include Lee, Lenox, Drury, Hoosac Valley, McCann Tech, Mount Greylock and Mount Everett.

"We wanted to keep the divisions as balanced as possible," said Shrewsbury athletic director Jay Costa, the chairman of the Baseball Committee.

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Keith Brouillard, an assistant executive director with the MIAA said that baseball's plan mirrors the basketball proposal of five divisions, which was approved earlier in the spring. It was suggested that the two sports also have similar numbers of schools playing the sport.

"What we did as a committee is we discussed what would suit baseball the best in terms of how many divisions," Brouillard said during the video meeting. "Would it be four divisions? Would it be five divisions? Would it be six divisions?

"The recommendation that came out of the subcommittee ... was to go with a five-division setup which would allow for almost 50 percent of the teams to qualify for the tournament."

The Baseball Committee also voted to continue with the Division I-A, or so called "Super Eight" tournament. That was also unanimously approved.

The committee would select the eight teams, and MaxPreps — the official seeding mechanism as of Fall 2020 — would seed the eight teams.

Six of last year's Super 8 teams fall into the Division I category under the proposed realignment. Only Mansfield and Walpole were Division II teams.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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