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Phil Campbell, Russellville begin title defense

The Phil Campbell Bobcats and the Russellville Golden Tigers will begin their title defenses this week as the baseball state playoffs begin. Phil Campbell won the Class 3A championship, and Russellville won the Class 5A championship, in 2021.

Phil Campbell will host Area 9 runnerup Saks Friday for two games, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Russellville will host Pleasant Grove.

Belgreen also earned a playoff bid, finishing runner up in Class 1A, Area 13. The Bulldogs will travel to Area 12 winner Appalachian Friday.

There are still two weeks left in the softball regular season before area tournaments begin.

Soccer playoffs will begin in two weeks as well, with both Tharptown and Russellville hosting the first round of the playoffs.

BIG CHANGES COME TO 2023 SPRING SCHEDULES, PLAYOFFS

As the playoffs for the 2022 season get set to begin, the Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board approved big changes to scheduling for the 2023 season in baseball, softball and soccer.

Currently, all three spring sports compete in areas of three to five teams, with the top two making the playoffs. Next year, they will move to region play.

Like football, each region will have seven to eight teams, with the top four making the playoffs.

Some of the justifications behind the move, according to the proposal, is to make more games count toward the playoffs; decrease the chances of a tiebreaker; make it easier to make out schedules; ensure better teams make the playoffs; and ensure schools would not lose money hosting area and state playoff games.

Softball will also lose area tournaments, with just the top four teams going to the playoffs, like baseball currently does. Softball is allowed to play 18 regular season games and up to seven tournaments, which could lead some teams to play 40-50 games in a season – with just a small number of those games having any impact on the playoffs.

Baseball and softball regions should be similar to football regions released earlier in December; however, they will not be exact because of competitive balance factors with private schools, and – especially at the Class 1A level – some teams do not field football teams.

The 2023 regions for baseball, softball and soccer will be released shortly after the conclusion of this year’s state championships.

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