Two new changes highlight this year's 17th annual Tony Saladino Baseball Tournament.
The team seedings have been altered into a new format and for the first time there will be a true third- through sixth-place ranking.
The seedings were based on team records within the two divisions in the Western Conference. The top-seeded team in the American Division will play the No. 8 team in the National Division in the first round. The top seed in the National Division will play the eight seed in the American. Tampa Catholic, the only private school in the tournament, was plugged into the sixth-seeded spot in the National Division. The new format, which replaces the old 1-16 seeds, was suggested by Chamberlain coach Dick Rorhberg.
"We had been looking for the fairest way possible," King coach Jim Macaluso said. "When it comes down to it there is no way you can make 16 coaches happy. And if each of the teams hasn't played each other the same amount of times, there really isn't an exact way to judge who is the better team."
The most intriguing aspect of the new format is Tampa Bay Tech and Jefferson, each 9-1, are on the same side of the pairings and could match up for a semifinal, rather than in the final.
"With everything there are good points and bad points," Macaluso said. "We wanted to look for the most positive and be as fair as possible."
The newest addition is the fifth- and sixth-place bracket. In previous years, if a team won its first-round game and lost in the second round, it was done. If a team lost in the first round, it fell to the consolation bracket and continued to play for what was called the runner-up spot.
This year, if a team loses in the second round it will fall into the fifth-place bracket where it will continue to play.
"That is something we have been pushing for years," Macaluso said. "The coaches are happy about it, and we wanted to do it for the kids and the coaches. The administration wanted to let the tournament grow before we could go to this. But now we have a true consolation."
The consolation games and the fifth- and sixth-place games will all be played at Tampa Bay Tech and the winners' bracket will be played at King throughout.