Last updated: June 02. 2014 10:01PM - 515 Views
By - sstinson@civitasmedia.com - 910-817-2671

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It is not often the North Carolina High School Athletic Association does something that make sense.

So when it happens, you have to applaud the decision.

This is true when it came down to picking the sites for this weekend’s baseball championships.

There is definitely an eastern slant to the final eight teams this season as none of them are west of Charlotte. This meant the NCHSAA had to do its best to minimize the “home-field advantage” for schools close to either UNC Greensboro or Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

For the most part, it succeeded.

Could the sites have been tweaked? Absolutely, but while the NCHSAA may not have hit a home run, it did smash a double into the gap.

Richmond and West Forsyth will meet for the 4A championship and should attract the largest crowds. For this reason, no one should fault the NCHSAA for dropping the series in Greensboro.

Some would say it is an unfair advantage to have the Titans playing for the title on a field less than 40 miles from their campus. It could be, but the Raiders will be just 85 miles from their home.

The combined distance is 125 miles for both schools, the smallest in any classification.

Joining Richmond and West Forsyth at UNCG will be Bunker Hill and Midway. Bunker Hill, like Richmond, is around 85 miles away from Greensboro and Midway isn’t much further — 100 miles.

Imagine if the NCHSAA were to have swapped sites and sent those four schools to Five County Stadium instead. Richmond will be 120 miles from its campus and West Forsyth would be 140. Midway will be just 55 miles away, but Bunker Hill would be close to 200 miles away.

Now looking at the teams heading to Zebulon, none are closer than around 120 miles from Five County Stadium. Whiteville in the 1A series and Topsail in the 3A series are the closest schools. But once again, it isn’t like their opponents are from the far western part of the state.

Topsail’s opponent in the 3A title series — Piedmont — will be making the longest trip of any of the eight remaining teams. It will travel 160 miles from Monroe to Zebulon. If the sites were changed and the series was slated for UNCG, then Topsail would be making a nearly 200-mile trek for the games, while Piedmont would be 100 miles away.

Whiteville will take on East Surry for the 1A championship. The Cardinals will be playing 150 miles from their campus. If this series were to have been played at UNCG, then Whiteville would travel 160 miles to play, while East Surry would make a 50-mile drive.

The NCHSAA could have elected to put the 1A games at UNCG and send the 4A series out to Five County Stadium, but it was wise to keep it as is because of the hope of bigger ticket sales at both locations.

Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.

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