U.N.I. and Drake are both seeded high in this week’s Missouri Valley Conference softball tournament but that won’t be an advantage if history is any indication. In hopes of rewarding regular season success the conference a few years ago went to a single elimination format that gave the top two seeds byes into the semifinal round but it has rarely been an advantage.
Drake coach Rich Calvert says every year they try to bring that up, but he says the league is so balanced that the one and two seeds haven’t had the success you might think. The Bulldogs are seeded third and will open Thursday night against the winner of the game between Bradley and Missouri State.
Regular season champ U.N.I. is the top seed while Illinois State is seeded second. He says the last five or six years, the one or two seed gets into the championship game, but has lost. Calvert says the other team is usually riding a win streak or a hot pitcher and the best team does not always win.
Calvert says while the new single elimination format means the top seed only needs to win two games to be crowned champion it also means there is no margain for error. He says that makes every pitch vital as you don’t have the losers bracket to come back in if you have a bad game.
U.N.I. will play Friday at Noon. The tournament will be held in Carbondale, Illinois.