07/14/2024
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By Sonny Jones

Will all six Bladen County high school spring sports teams qualify for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs? It’s possible.

Admittedly, the East Bladen softball team and West Bladen girls’ soccer team are on the bubble, but could make it with solid finishes. Both baseball teams, the West Bladen softball team and East Bladen girls’ soccer team are in good position for postseason play.

Although there are exceptions, the top 32 ranked teams in the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 2-A East Ratings Percentage Index will qualify for postseason berths. Conference champions are seeded 1 through 10, then the final 22 spots are based on RPI.

The Ratings Percentage Index formula includes a teams’ winning percentage, the winning percentage of opponents and the winning percentage of opponents’ opponents. It’s a way of rewarding teams that may lose against stronger competition than a team that wins against weak competition.

BASEBALL

EAST BLADEN
• Record: 7-10 overall, 3-5 conference
• Current RPI: 0.545394; Last week: 0.538641
• Current Rank: 13; Last week: 17
• This Week: Tuesday at Red Springs (6-10), Wednesday home vs. South Brunswick (11-6), Thursday home vs. Red Springs.
• Last Week: Split games against 5th-ranked Fairmont, winning 10-4 and losing 4-1.
• Outlook: The Eagles appear to be a sure bet to make the state playoffs. They can help themselves with a strong week. East Bladen has a pair of conference games against last place Red Springs and a non-conference contest against South Brunswick, the 8th-ranked 3-A team in the East. East Bladen may host a first-round playoff game with a 4-1 or 5-0 finish to the season.

WEST BLADEN
• Record: 12-5 overall, 5-3 conference
• Current RPI: 0.525606; Last week: 0.513473
• Current Rank: 20; Last week: 22
• This Week: Tuesday at St. Pauls (7-10); Wednesday home vs. St. Pauls.
• Last Week: Beat Red Springs twice by scores of 14-6 and 17-10.
• Outlook: A pair of victories last week against last-place Red Springs kept the Knights in good position for a state playoff bid, but it didn’t help in the rankings. West Bladen needs to keep the momentum going this week against No. 27 St. Pauls, which moved up six spots with a pair of wins against Clinton, in order to move up a bit in the rankings with top-ranked Midway looming in the final week of the regular season.

RANKINGS FOR OTHER SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC TEAMS
1. Midway (16-2, Last week: 1)
5. Fairmont (14-5, Last week: 5)
27. St. Pauls (7-10; Last week: 33)
34. Clinton (6-9; Last week: 30)
40. Red Springs (6-10; Last week: 37)

SOFTBALL

WEST BLADEN
• Record: 13-5 overall, 8-0 conference
• Current RPI: 0.507170; Last week: 0.501393
• Current Rank: 22; Last week: 21
• This Week: Tuesday at St. Pauls (10-7), Wednesday home vs. St. Pauls.
• Last Week: Ran their win streak to seven with a non-conference victory at West Brunswick and Southeastern Athletic Conference wins against No. 41 Red Springs 19-0 and 14-1.
• Outlook: The Knights can clinch a state playoff berth with a pair of victories against No. 27 St. Pauls (5-3 in conference) this week. West Bladen and Midway are tied for first with 8-0 records and meet twice next week. However, first things first and that’s St. Pauls, a program that West Bladen has defeated the last seven meetings and are 19-2 against since 2011. The top two teams in the Southeastern Athletic Conference are assured of postseason play.

EAST BLADEN
• Record: 8-10 overall, 4-4 conference
• Current RPI: 0.453325; Last week: 0.424859
• Current Rank: 28; Last week: 34
• This Week: Tuesday at Red Springs (1-10), Wednesday home vs. South Brunswick (14-3), Thursday home vs. Red Springs.
• Last Week: Moved up six spots in the rankings with 10-0 and 9-4 wins against No. 34 Fairmont.
• Outlook: The Eagles control their fate for a state playoff bid, but could use at least three wins in their remaining five games to be comfortably in the top 32. A win Wednesday against 3-A No. 5-seed South Brunswick would be a nice feather in the cap, but the four remaining conference games will decide things.

RANKINGS FOR OTHER SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC TEAMS
3. Midway (12-4; Last week: 5)
27. St. Pauls (10-7; Last week: 28)
30. Clinton (6-7)
34. Fairmont (6-13; Last week: 32)
41. Red Springs (1-10; Last week: 42)

GIRLS’ SOCCER

EAST BLADEN
• Record: 9-3-1 overall, 4-2 conference
• Current RPI: 0.590104; Last week: 0.581636
• Current Rank: 7: Last week: 7
• This Week: Tuesday at Red Springs (1-10), Thursday home vs. Red Springs.
• Last Week: Beat Whiteville 4-1.
• Outlook: The Eagles will be in the playoffs and should host a first-round game with victories in their final four games. Although East Bladen likely will be ranked inside the top 10 when the season, its seedking will be in the low- to mid-teens since it won’t win the conference title. Another solid season for the Eagles.

WEST BLADEN
• Record: 5-10 overall, 2-4 conference
• Current RPI: 0.424798; Last week: 0.417222
• Current Rank: 33; Last week: 34
• This Week: Tuesday at St. Pauls (4-7), Wednesday home vs. St. Pauls.
• Last Week: Won twice against Red Springs 5-2 in overtime and 4-1.
• Outlook: The Knights are on the playoff bubble and can help their cause with two wins against St. Pauls this week. There’s also two conference game against Midway and a non-conference game against Pender remaining. The opportunity is there for West Bladen.

RANKINGS FOR OTHER SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC TEAMS
1. Clinton (15-0-2; Last week: 1)
27. Midway (6-7-1; Last week: 25)
36. St. Pauls (4-7-0; Last week: 36)
45. Red Springs (1-10-0; Last week: 40)

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