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Monday, May 23, 2016: Does gamesmenship dictate whether games get played?

   Leading off today: Ah, the games people play.

   Or don't play.

   The Journal News had an interesting story over the weekend regarding seedings for the Section 1 softball tournament and how the process may have been affected by the annual challenge of rescheduling postponed games from throughout the regular season.

   Section 1 usually leaves time between the official end of the regular season and the start of sectionals so that teams can potentially squeeze in some games and still allow the committee to seed the tournament.

   Not surprisingly, the emphasis has traditionally been on getting makeup games slotted into the schedule when time allows in April and early May rather than a day or two before sectionals. That may mean four games in four days in some instances or split doubleheaders on Saturdays.

   On May 13, sectional coordinators decreed that the season would be extended through last Tuesday, followed by the seeding meeting on Wednesday and some first-round games Thursday, the paper reported.

   "We waited to push the (final day of the regular season) back another day because we were afraid if we did it too early, people would just automatically use Tuesday instead of playing consecutively or the next available day," Section 1 co-coordinator Susan Dullea explained.

   Putnam Valley vs. Briarcliff was rained out on May 6 and the school's didn't have a common available makeup day for the non-league contest through last Monday. Putnam Valley coach Rena Finsmith hoped that the extension to the regular season would allow the game to be made up Tuesday, but Briarcliff AD Chris Drosopoulos reportedly cited a science symposium that evening as a hurdle because several softball players were participating. The game was not played.

   Conspiracy theorists point to the fact Briarcliff narrowly held a higher seed over Putnam Valley and may not have wanted to risk slipping down the list and drawing a less favorable sectional draw. Briarcliff ended up with the No. 5 seed, two spots ahead of Putnam Valley and on the opposite side of the bracket.

   Both won pre-quarterfinals Friday, so any scheduling shenanigans -- real or imagined -- are somewhat of a moot point now. The bigger issue, however, is that the nature of spring sports -- lots of postponements due to weather and a very short period of time available to reschedule -- does potentially open the door to some manipulation.

   A rule change requiring games be made up at any cost is unlikely because it could interfere with long-scheduled school events -- concerts, testing, class trips, etc. In addition, some years are tougher than others when it comes to weather.

   Saturday baseball: In an elimination game that seemingly would not end, West Islip beat Hauppauge 4-3 in 11 innings and secured a spot in the Section 11 Class AA semifinals against Smithtown East.

   West Islip is ranked eighth in the state in Class AA by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

   With one out in the bottom of the 11th inning, Hauppauge intentionally walked Jon Risedorf (who had homered in the fifth inning) to load the bases and create a force at every base. But No. 9 hitter Kyle O'Neill hit a grounder down the first-base line and into right field, plating pinch runner Stephen Pappas with the deciding run.

   "They were walking the bases loaded just to face me," O'Neill said. "I got focused and put a good swing on it."

   Soaring over the bar: There was a very impressive national high school track and field record set over the weekend in Missouri.

   Park Hill senior Chris Nilsen hit the bar on the way up and on the way down but still cleared 18 feet 4-3/4 inches in the pole vault at the Missouri Class 5 Section 4 meet Saturday. It put the 6-foot-5 Nilsen within an inch of meeting the qualifying standard for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

   He broke the U.S. record (18-3.25 in 2012) held by Shawn Barber, who progressed to world champion three years later.

   After making 17-6 to earn a trip to defend his title at the state meet, Nilsen passed up going for a PR of 18-1 and asked to have the bar set at 18-4. He cleared on the third try, after which a re-measure showed his official height as 18-4.75.

   Progress: I've set up brackets with times. dates and sites for the impending NYSPHSAA boys and girls lacrosse tournaments. I'll work on baseball and softball in the next 48 hours in between trying to chase down a story tip that arrived over the weekend.

   Extra points: I overlooked this earlier this month, but the Nassau County Aquatic Center is the choice of the NYSPHSAA boys swimming committee and state-office staff to host the state meets for 2018-20. The decision is expected to be ratified at New York State Public High School Athletic Association meetings this summer.

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