The OCC realignment has made it difficult for area high school baseball and softball teams to schedule makeup games.

The OCC realignment has made it difficult for area high school baseball and softball teams to schedule makeup games.

With the OCC going from six divisions of six teams to four divisions of eight, the league schedule in each sport has expanded from 10 to 14 games. In the past, teams scheduled OCC games for Monday and Wednesday with Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays available as non-league dates. Saturdays were -- and for the most part still are -- used for non-league doubleheaders. Sundays have been considered an off day.

Now, OCC games also are scheduled for Fridays, and that extra day of mandatory play has tightened the window to schedule makeup games. With the normal cancellations and postponements because of bad weather, the result this year has been a backlog of league games that teams are trying to squeeze in before May 11, the start of district tournament play.

"It's been very frustrating," Pickerington North baseball coach Tim Thomas said. "Not only do we have the three league games, when we have five days of rain where we can't play, it means we're not going to have a day off until the tournament. We have a league game every day."

Thomas said teams used to be able to avoid the scheduling headache by using Friday as a makeup date, giving the Panthers three shots at scheduling a makeup game for a Monday postponement or two shots for a Wednesday postponement without having to disrupt Saturday plans or plans for the next week.

Without that extra day, games have been postponed to later weeks. Starting last Monday, North was scheduled to play five consecutive OCC-Ohio Division games before traveling Saturday to West Chester Lakota West for a doubleheader. After an off day Sunday, the Panthers will play four consecutive league games. As of last Monday they had May 8, a Friday, off, but Thomas is leaving that open in case there is one more postponement.

The Thomas Worthington baseball team was in a similar situation. The only difference was the Cardinals have a non-league game scheduled May 7, which is being treated by coach Stephen Gussler as a final makeup date for a postponed league game.

More than one postponement would force both teams into making a decision between a canceling a Saturday doubleheader, if possible, or pushing the league game back to the week of the district tournament. In that situation the coaches would be faced with the decision of when to pitch his best pitcher.

"It's a problem because of our main goals, the first is to win our league," Gussler said.

"And then the next goal is the district championship. We might be playing league games during the tournament and I'm not sure what I would do (about the pitching) to be honest. If you get a good draw, you might have a weaker opponent and maybe you could save some guys."

Teams will find out who they play in the district tournament Sunday at the drawing meeting at Gahanna. But do they actually have to put themselves in the bind of having to play in a tournament game and an OCC game on consecutive days?

OCC commissioner Dave Cecutti said the OCC doesn't put a mandate on when the last games can be played, although the OHSAA calendar has the baseball and softball seasons ending June 13.

The City League plays its championship game the final week of May. Dublin Scioto softball coach Todd Bright said he could only remember one season out of 11 in which his team didn't play the maximum 27 regular-season games, often playing a week after being eliminated from the district tournament.

With eight-team OCC divisions locked in for another three years, Cecutti said the scheduling issue will be around for awhile, and it's something the executive committee is going to look at during its next meeting in June. Not only has the scheduling been tough for schools, but it's been difficult to find enough umpires to go around as teams try to cram in their league games before the postseason.

"(The realignment) affects the spring sports the most," Cecutti said.

"There are a couple issues that I'm fighting right now. We have to level just getting some contingency plans. Right now I'm not sure what those are."

Cecutti did mention that an emphasis needed to be put on the priority of OCC games over non-league doubleheaders Saturdays. He also said he had spoken with some schools about the possibility of playing Sunday games.