With his team struggling to reach .500 as play began in District 4-5A, Central High baseball coach Mike Forbes adopted a short, but catchy phrase to live by.
“Win and we get in,” Forbes told the Wildcats.
If it were only that simple for the Wildcats (17-16) and some other teams following the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s baseball power rankings over the past month.
Like many coaches, Forbes follows several sources listing power rankings, including the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Because the LHSAA’s 5A playoff pairings will be released first Sunday afternoon the last week has been one of anxiety for “bubble teams” like Central. Brackets for teams in Class 4A through C follow Tuesday.
I’ve followed the power rankings the last several years and I can’t tell you I absolutely understand it,” Forbes said. “We’ve had weeks where we’ve won and we’ve dropped in the rankings.
“The last week was crazy with the games we played and forfeits that came from Livonia and Mandeville something changed every day.”
When the LHSAA released its most recent unofficial power rankings Tuesday, Central was at No. 30 in 5A. With the prospect of as many as three district champions finishing outside the top 32 power ranking, there were no guarantees. District champions get a playoff berth regardless of their power ranking.
After that, 3A Livonia and 5A Mandeville were ordered to forfeit games because of ineligible players. Those forfeits impacted the rankings in multiple classes, including 5A.
Forbes said it looks like only one district champion, Grace King, won’t finish in the top 32 in 5A. Going into Sunday’s release of the bracket and final power rankings, Forbes’ Wildcats are rated No. 29 on one popular site, kenramsey.com. Another site, excaliburfun.com, has Central at No. 28.
A No. 29 ranking would likely match Central against District 4-5A rival Denham Springs, set to get a No. 4 seed, in the first round. A No. 28 ranking might bring a matchup against Comeaux.
As for the win-and-we’re-in saga, Forbes said he was at least partially right. It looked like a 3-2, 13-inning win over Zachary on April 17 would be a difference-maker. However, after that win and a victory over winless Broadmoor on April 19, Central actually dropped in the LHSAA rankings.
Another 3-2 win, this one over Walker on Tuesday, appears to be the “one” that put Central over the top, despite losing Thursday to Live Oak.
There appears to be other changes to note. For example, Zachary of 4-5A was eighth last week in the LHSAA rankings and has dropped to 13th on one of the unofficial sites.
Though it can be hard to predict, coaches prefer power ratings over the previous LHSAA system that assigned district teams the same spot on brackets year after year based on league finishes.
“We wanted a chance to play, and we feel good about getting in,” Forbes said.