This year, the WDA is introduced a new wrinkle to the softball pod system. Instead dividing the teams into two pods, they will now be divided into three pods.
The WDA pod system went through a make over for the 2018 season.
“I like the new system,” Bismarck High softball coach Kurt Grensteiner said. “[It] lets us play most of the league more than one doubleheader.”
In December 2017, Minot Bishop Ryan elected to drop down from Class A to Class B, which only left nine schools in the West.
“Last year,” Grensteiner said, “it was stacked. You’re out-of-pod games that were worth two points each and you never got to see [those teams] again. You could get out of the [running for the regular season title] quick.”
With nine schools, programs were divided into groups of three. Teams will play there in-podmates in one doubleheader, but the games will count as double points in the standings.
“Both games counting for double points is pretty significant,” Mandan head softball coach Ryne Jungling said. “A good opportunity, but also a little bit of pressure with that.”
Teams will play their out-of-pod opponents in two doubleheaders with each game counting as one point each.
“That gave us something like 31 games,” Ziegler said. “It left us with two non-conference games.”
The programs selected to be in each pod were chosen with distance and geography in mind.
“Trying to have Williston not have to go home-and-home with Jamestown,” Jungling said, “Or Dickinson with Turtle Mountain and split up the Bismarck-Mandan teams.”
However teams should not get use to the current system. With the addition of Watford City next season, the system will change for the 2019 season.
“I think we are going to end up going to the same system we had last year,” Jungling said.
Coaches might not even play in the current system, as cancellations might force athletic directors to rethink scheduling.
“There’s a possibility that we if we go with the system we have now, we might not play a team this year because of rescheduling difficulties,” Ziegler said.
As Coach Ziegler said, softball may have to change their regular season format because of weather. There is a proposal on the table, but nothing has been finalized.