In many ways it will be a familiar postseason for the Northwest softball team.
Like usual, the Vikings will be headed to the Smith Softball Complex in Hastings for a two-day, double-elimination tournament.
Hastings, Adams Central and St. Paul are familiar postseason opponents.
But there is one major difference. This year, Northwest knows that no matter what happens, it will live to play another day.
That’s because Class B softball has adopted a postseason format identical to the one that has been used in volleyball, basketball and soccer.
Ten subdistricts will be held on Monday and Tuesday with the champions and the six highest remaining teams in the wild-card standings advancing to district finals on Friday. Best-of-3 series will be played between the No. 1 and No. 16 seeds, No. 2 and No. 15, etc. with the winners advancing to the state tournament.
With Northwest sitting at No. 8 in the points standing and safely in position to participate in a district final, the Subdistrict 8 tournament will have a little different feel.
“With the new format, if you wouldn’t play as well as you hoped, you do have a backup plan and can still play on Friday,” coach Jake Ritzdorf said. “But every win puts you in a better position to play at home.”
Ritzdorf said he has confidence in his Vikings wherever they would play a district final, but the team would love to perform well in its subdistrict and lock in a home series.
No. 8-rated Northwest (20-9) didn’t ease into the postseason. The Vikings played a doubleheader at Class A North Platte on Thursday before finishing third by going 2-1 in the Central Conference tournament at the Smith Complex on Friday.
“We had five games in a span of 24 hours,” he said. “We played good teams and did a nice job to place third. We won a tough game against Adams Central, and now we play them again on Monday.”
The Vikings defeated Adams Central (17-10) via walk-off 8-7 in eight innings in the third-place game.
Top-seed Hastings (21-6) and fourth-seeded St. Paul (11-16) meet up in the other first-round game, both set for 4 p.m. on Monday.
“We’re in one of the two toughest subdistricts,” Ritzdorf said. “The other one has Beatrice, Crete and NEN. You look around the state and some of the pods of four have a No. 1 seed with a barely winning or even losing record.
“We’re in a tough subdistrict, which is what we want. We want to earn our way to a good seed on Friday. Hastings is a good team, Adams Central is a good team and St. Paul is a good team.”
The Vikings will have to have everything clicking against that competition.
“Our pitching has been great all year long, and we have a lot of confidence in it,” Ritzdorf said. “Emily Stein has carried most of the load, but we also are confident whenever Ava Laurent or Joley Langford are called on.
“We want to have our bats going so that will ease some of the pressure on our pitchers. Our defense has to be solid.”
And a strong schedule has Ritzdorf confident that the Vikings are ready for whatever comes their way on Monday and Tuesday — as well as Friday.
Grand Island Central Catholic ended the regular season on a high note to build momentum for the Class B, Subdistrict 7 tournament at York.
After going 5-11 in September, the Crusaders (12-14) opened October by picking up two wins to claim their third straight Lou-Platte Conference championship.
GICC will look to continue that new streak in the new month in what appears to be a wide-open subdistrict. York (11-11) is the top seed and owns an 11-4 victory over the Crusaders. But GICC led the Dukes 4-0 in a game early in the season that was then rained out.
The Crusaders are seeded third and open play Monday at noon against second-seeded Aurora (10-16). The teams’ scheduled regular-season meeting was rained out last week.
Area Subdistricts Glance
Class B, Subdistrict 7
At York Ballpark Complex
Game 1—York (11-11) vs. Columbus Lakeview (3-21), Noon
Game 2—Aurora (10-16) vs. GICC (12-14), Noon
Game 3—Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 4—Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 5—Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 11 a.m.
Game 6—Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 1 p.m.
Game 7—If necessary, 3 p.m.
Class B, Subdistrict 8
At Smith Softball Complex, Hastings
Game 1—Hastings (21-6) vs. St. Paul (11-16), 4 p.m.
Game 2—Northwest (20-9) vs. Adams Central (17-10), 4 p.m.
Game 3—Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 6 p.m.
Game 4—Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 6 p.m.
Game 5—Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2 p.m.
Game 6—Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 4 p.m.
Game 7—If necessary, 6 p.m.