12/03/2023
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By Sonny Jones

Rain was the big winner last week as Bladen County high school spring sports teams aim for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

It’s the final week of regular season play for baseball and softball teams with state playoff pairings expected to be announced May 8. Girls’ soccer teams can have regular season games through May 10 with state playoff pairings expected to be announced May 12.

The West Bladen softball team and the East Bladen baseball and girls’ soccer teams are locks for a playoff berth. The West Bladen baseball team and East Bladen softball team are in good positions for a spot in the postseason. The West Bladen girls’ soccer team can qualify as well, but another win wouldn’t hurt.

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.

Here are the rankings as of Sunday morning:

BASEBALL

EAST BLADEN
• Record: 8-10 overall, 4-5 conference
• Current RPI: .547051; Last week: .545394; 2 weeks ago: .538641
• Current Rank: 13; Last week: 13; 2 weeks ago: 17
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. St. Pauls (8-10); Wednesday home vs. Red Springs (6-11); Friday at St. Pauls
• Last Week: Beat Red Springs 10-2
• Outlook: It’s been an up-and-down season, but with three wins this week the Eagles would finish the regular season with a winning record. That seemed unlikely a few weeks ago and won’t be an easy task with a pair of games against St. Pauls. East Bladen has benefitted from a challenging non-conference schedule that has given it a solid RPI ranking and a sure bet for the playoffs.

WEST BLADEN
• Record: 12-6 overall, 5-4 conference
• Current RPI: .517970; Last week: .525606; 2 weeks ago: .513473
• Current Rank: 25; Last week: 20; 2 weeks ago: 22
• This Week: Monday home vs. St. Pauls (8-10), Tuesday at Midway (17-2); Friday home vs. Midway
• Last Week: Lost to St. Pauls 4-3
• Outlook: West Bladen is in good shape for a postseason berth, but a win against St. Pauls would help the cause. the Knights feel better about a state playoff spot. A win (or two) against Southeastern Athletic Conference champion Midway would really help RPI, while losses wouldn’t have much impact on RPI since the Raiders are the top-ranked 2-A team in the East.

RANKINGS FOR OTHER SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC TEAMS
1. Midway (17-2, Last week: 1)
5. Fairmont (15-6, Last week: 5)
27. St. Pauls (8-10; Last week: 27)
34. Clinton (6-10; Last week: 34)
41. Red Springs (6-11; Last week: 40)

SOFTBALL

WEST BLADEN
• Record: 14-5 overall, 9-0 conference
• Current RPI: .517776; Last week: .507170; 2 weeks ago: .501393
• Current Rank: 21; Last week: 22; 2 weeks ago: 21
• This Week: Tuesday at Midway (13-4); Wednesday home vs. St. Pauls (10-8); Friday home vs. Midway
• Last Week: Beat St. Pauls 12-1
• Outlook: The Knights, who have won eight straight games, are playing this week to determine whether they will host a first-round state playoff game or will have to travel. West Bladen needs to win its three games this week to have a home game. If Midway and the Knights tie for first in the conference, then Midway would get the nod based on its higher RPI.

EAST BLADEN
• Record: 9-10 overall, 5-4 conference
• Current RPI: .462672; Last week: .453325; 2 weeks ago: .424859
• Current Rank: 26; Last week: 28; 2 weeks ago: 34
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. St. Pauls (10-8); Wednesday home vs. Red Springs (1-11); Friday at St. Pauls
• Last Week: Beat Red Springs 17-0
• Outlook: The Eagles have won four of their last five games and moved up eight spots in RPI in the last two weeks to seemingly solidy a postseason berth. The two games against St. Pauls this week will determine third place in the Southeastern Athletic Conference.

RANKINGS FOR OTHER SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC TEAMS
4. Midway (13-4; Last week: 3)
30. St. Pauls (10-8; Last week: 27)
34. Fairmont (6-13; Last week: 34)
41. Red Springs (1-11; Last week: 41)
48. Clinton (1-15; Last week: NA)

GIRLS’ SOCCER

EAST BLADEN
• Record: 10-3-1 overall, 5-2 conference
• Current RPI: .582747; Last week: .590104; 2 weeks ago: .581636
• Current Rank: 8; Last week: 7; 2 weeks ago: 7
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. St. Pauls (5-8-0); Wednesday home vs. Red Springs (1-11-0); Friday at St. Pauls
• Last Week: Beat Red Springs 9-0
• Outlook: The Eagles are in position to end the season with eight straight wins and lock up a first-round home state playoff game. The last time East Bladen lost to either Red Springs or St. Pauls in the last 23 combined meetings was 2011 when the Red Devils claimed a 2-1 victory. The Eagles likely will be seeded somewhere between No. 12-14 as a conference runners-up.

WEST BLADEN
• Record: 6-11 overall, 3-5 conference
• Current RPI: .430706; Last week: .424798; 2 weeks ago: .417222
• Current Rank: 33; Last week: 33; 2 weeks ago: 34
• This Week: Tuesday at Midway (6-9-1); Friday home vs. Midway
• Last Week: Beat St. Pauls 4-1; Lost to St. Pauls 1-0
• Outlook: The rain-shortened loss to St. Pauls didn’t help the Knights’ playoff push, but the opportunity remains for a second consecutive postseason appearance. The two games against Midway this week may determine West Bladen’s fate, although a non-conference contest next week against 1-A Pender could be critical. It also will depend how teams such as No. 29 South Columbus, No. 30 Pasquotank County, No. 31 North Lenoir and No. 32 South Granville fare over the next two weeks.

RANKINGS FOR OTHER SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC TEAMS
1. Clinton (16-0-2; Last week: 1)
28. Midway (6-9-1; Last week: 27)
35. St. Pauls (5-8-0; Last week: 36)
45. Red Springs (1-11-0; Last week: 45)

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