When the first Alabama Sports Writers Association softball rankings were released on March 14, the Class 1A “others nominated” category included a winless team.
That team was Skyline, sitting 0-4 at the time but square in consideration for spot in the Class 1A rankings.
That may have raised some eyebrows across the state. But when you delve into Skyline's program and its resume, you see why.
Skyline had played all larger schools, Class 3A Westminster Christian (twice), 4A state-ranked Madison Academy and 4A Cherokee County. (Skyline has since won three of its last five).
The record did not tell the full tale.
In all sports, playing good teams makes your team better. It’s that simple. In softball, it may be more important than any. My theory is a softball team without 10 losses did not play a tough enough schedule.
Around here, softball has gone from “just Pisgah” 15 years ago to the point where every school but one has sent their program to the North Regional and all but two have sent their program to the state tournament since 2013.
Scheduling is a big part of that. When teams started playing tougher schedules, their own success level began to rise.
No team wants to lose. But a softball team that rarely does in the regular-season almost certainly does in the postseason. The same is said for baseball.
That's why you see local teams playing teams like James Clemens, Grissom, Russellville, Mountain Brook, Piedmont and Buckhorn.
Playing good teams mean your hitters face tough pitching and your pitchers face tough hitters. That helps your team prepare for the postseason.
The regular-season record, coaches hope, are good. The postseason record is what truly matters. A challenging regular season is an ingredient for a strong postseason.
Every year teams with near .500 record makes some noise in the postseason.
The record does not always tell the tale on a team. More often than not, however, the schedule does.