Baseball Playoffs

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has released a number of details for the 2020-2021 sports seasons — including plans for the state playoffs in each sport — and new guidelines for skill development sessions.

CHAPEL HILL — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has released a number of details for the 2020-2021 sports seasons — including plans for the state playoffs in each sport — and new guidelines for skill development sessions.

Last month, the association announced an overhaul of the sports seasons, but the plan only included dates for first practices, first contests, and the end of the regular season. The new details expand on that schedule and include the state playoffs.

For most sports, a total of 32 teams will qualify for the state playoffs, which is a 50% reduction for many sports. Football brackets will be reduced to two 16-team brackets in each classification, also half of the normal field. Qualifiers will be based on conference finish.

2020-21 NCHSAA Sports Regulations

Tennis and wrestling will only play individual playoffs, skipping the dual team playoffs this year. Typically both sports play a dual team playoff first, followed by an individual tournament. In wrestling, wrestle backs will not be allowed in regional and state championship tournaments.

Unlike past years, the brackets will not be seeded using winning percentage or computer rankings. Instead, predetermined brackets will be used. This means teams that finish in a specific spot in the conference standings will be matched up with another team that finishes in a specific spot in its own conference. The bracket will be determined ahead of time, which means coaches may have a better idea of who they will play and it will ensure no conference rematches in the first round.

Conferences with six or fewer teams will be given one automatic bid, conferences with seven or eight teams will be given two automatic bids, and conferences with nine or more teams will be given three automatic bids. Split conferences will be based on the size of its half of the split. Any extra spots in the playoff field will be given out as at-large bids based on conference winning percentage.

Conference tournaments will be permitted. For individual spots, the conference tournament or meet does not count toward season or weekly limitations, allowing all conference member schools to compete. However, the number of participants per sport has not yet been determined by the NCHSAA. A conference tournament can be held in team sports, but it must e held in accordance with seasonal and weekly limitations. If a tournament is held, the two teams advancing to the conference championship will be allowed one additional contest that is not part of the limitations.

Scrimmages will be allowed to take place, however scrimmages are limited to no more than two teams. A maximum of one scrimmage limited to two hours will be permitted this school year for each sport.

As previously announced, most sports are limited to a total of 14 games or competitions during the regular season. Exceptions include football, which is limited to seven games. Previously, track & field, swimming & diving, and cross country had been limited to 10 contests, but the NCHSAA has increased the limit to 14 contests.

The NCHSAA also announced its annual cheerleading invitational has been moved from May 1 to May 22.

Sport-specific information

During the regular season, cross country will have a maximum of four teams per contest. In competitions with four teams, teams are limited to seven individuals. Contests with three teams are limited to nine runners per team, and contests with two schools are limited to 14 athletes per team.

Boys and girls golf teams are allowed to practice together. Regular season competition will include the triple bogey rule. In a dual match, teams are limited to five individuals. Tri-matches are limited to 15 boys and 15 girls, while a quad-match is limited to 20 boys and 20 girls total.

Swimming & diving matches can be held virtually. Virtual meets must be held during the same week and exhibition heats are allowed. Exhibition heats are not allowed at in-person meets. Dual meets will be limited to the participating athlete plus one alternate per relay. Tri-meets are limited to 30 boys and 30 girls total.

Boys and girls tennis teams are permitted to practice together when the seasons overlap. There are a maximum of two teams per contest. Team are limited to participating athletes, but can include two alternates if only six athletes are competing. There will be no dual team playoffs in tennis, only individual championships.

Track & field will be limited to four schools per contest. Teams are limited to the participating athletes plus one alternate per relay.

Wrestling is limited to two tri-meets per week and tournaments are not allowed, only head-to-head competition. Teams are limited to participating athletes only. In the playoffs, only individual championships will be held, no dual team playoffs. Wrestle backs will not be allowed in regional and state championship tournaments.

State playoff schedules released

In addition to releasing the details for how the state playoffs will be conducted and brackets determined, the NCHSAA released the state playoff schedule. Below is the schedule for each sport:

Cross Country

Regionals: Jan. 16

States: Jan. 23

Volleyball

Brackets: Jan. 9

1st Round: Jan. 12

2nd Round: Jan. 14

3rd Round: Jan. 16

Regionals: Jan. 19

States: Jan. 23

Swimming & Diving

Regionals: Feb. 4-6

States: Feb. 10-13

Basketball

Brackets: Feb. 20

1st Round: Feb. 23

2nd Round: Feb. 25

3rd Round: Feb. 27

Regionals: Mar. 2

States: Mar. 6

Boys Soccer

Brackets: Mar. 13

1st Round: Mar. 16

2nd Round: Mar. 18

3rd Round: Mar. 20

Regionals: Mar. 23

States: Mar. 27

Boys & Girls Lacrosse

Brackets: Mar. 13

1st Round: Mar. 15

2nd Round: Mar. 17

3rd Round: Mar. 22

Regionals: Mar. 24

States: Mar. 27

Football

Brackets: Apr. 10

1st Round: Apr. 16

2nd Round: Apr. 23

Regionals: Apr. 30

States: May 8

Boys & Girls Golf

Regionals: May 3 or 4

States: May 10-11

Boys Tennis

Regionals: May 7-8

States: May 14-15

Girls Soccer

Brackets: May 1

1st Round: May 3

2nd Round: May 5

3rd Round: May 7

Regionals: May 11

States: May 15

Softball

Brackets: May 1

1st Round: May 3

2nd Round: May 5

3rd Round: May 7

Regionals: May 11

States: May 14-15

Baseball

Brackets: June 12

1st Round: June 15

2nd Round: June 17

3rd Round: June 19

Regionals: June 22

States: June 25-26

Girls Tennis

Regionals: June 18-19

States: June 25-26

Track & Field

Regionals: June 18-19

States: June 25-26

Wrestling

Regionals: June 18-19

States: June 26

New skill development guidelines allow for more peopleLast week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced plans to move the state into Phase 2.5 of his reopening plan. This allowed more people to attend gatherings than previously permitted.

Cooper’s new guidelines allow for a maximum of 25 people at indoor gatherings and a maximum of 50 people at outdoor gatherings. The new NCHSAA skill development guidelines match those numbers for indoor and outdoor workouts.

The limitations on the number of people at a workout include players, coaches, trainers, administrators, and any other person at the session.

Previously, the NCHSAA had limited indoor workouts to 10 people and outdoor workouts to 25 people.