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Hate to break it to you 2012, but your 15 minutes are up

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COMMENTARY

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

 In Wednesday’s paper I’ll have a look back at what was a pretty good 2012. For the next-to-last sports page of this year, let’s take a look forward.

There is 365 days’ worth of stuff to anticipate in 2013, and though we have no idea what most of it will be, there is quite a bit that we do know will happen, and some of that will begin happening as early as the second day of the new year.

I’m really looking forward to the district championship races. Mountain Empire and Southwest, boys’ hoops and girls’, there should be four pretty good battles to begin taking shape in the coming weeks.

In the Southwest District boys’ standings, Abingdon and Carroll County are undefeated and Marion has one loss as of this writing. Abingdon (8-0) will almost certainly not make it to its Jan. 2 game at Carroll (6-0) with a spotless record, as the Falcons are in the prestigious Arby’s Classic at Tennessee High in Bristol, one of the top prep tournaments in the East.

It’s no guarantee that Carroll will make it through the weekend unscathed, either, as the three-day Fort Chiswell tournament is as strong as it has been in several years.

Carroll County is almost always the team to beat in the Southwest District girls’ race, but Richlands carried a 7-0 mark into the holidays. Carroll is 5-4 going into today’s home game with Magna Vista, but the Cavaliers have had a much more challenging schedule than Richlands, which has a series of blowout wins versus single-A teams. 

Four of the six boys’ teams and four of the six girls’ teams in the MED are all at .500 or better, and both races should be fun to watch unfold. In the boys’ race, Grayson County has one overtime loss to undefeated Carroll. Bland County is 7-2 with two competitive losses to a solid Floyd County, and Graham is 5-2. Galax is not among those top four teams, but it’s difficult to conceive an MED race without the Tide as a factor. They will be.

Likewise, there’s not a lot of separation among the top four girls’ teams in the MED. Grayson (7-2), Fort Chiswell (5-2), Galax (5-3) and Graham (6-4) all have a shot. And speaking of things to look forward to, Grayson sits atop the MED with what is basically a JV team in terms of age.

 

Once spring sports roll around, the state’s baseball teams will have a new set of pitching regulations with which to contend. Having been limited to 10 total innings on any two consecutive days, pitchers are now limited to nine innings on a given day, 14 innings in a seven-day period and are required a certain amount of rest between outings.

Two or three innings of work will require one day of rest and four to seven innings will require two days of rest. A pitcher can throw one inning on four consecutive days before requiring any time off (throwing just one pitch counts as an inning pitched).

Further limitations are in place regarding how much a pitcher can throw depending on the amount of rest he has had. After two days of rest he may pitch two innings; after three days he can pitch three innings and after four days he may pitch to the limit of the rule. A violation will result in a forfeit and a $100 fine.

Good luck keeping up with all that, and good luck enforcing it.

Another rule change for baseball allows for the possibility of finishing district games that are called after reaching the point of being an ‘official game.’ Districts have the option to decide before the season starts to allow completion of suspended games that have reached 4 ½ or 5 innings.

 

And once the spring sports season is over, it all changes. Big time.

The 2013 football season will mark the starting point of the VHSL’s new 6A alignment system, which is anticipated by everybody (albeit in varying degrees of positivity).

For MED schools, little will change until the postseason, when the new conference set-up comes into play. For Carroll County, it’s a brave new world. Carroll will leave behind Southwest Virginia as its base of competition and move significantly more to the east, into an eight-team Roanoke-centered district and, for the postseason, a conference that includes schools in Lynchburg, Danville, Roanoke, Salem, Bassett and Dublin.