Frustrated assistant sports editor tries to solve riddle of DVL softball three-way tie

May 10th, 2013 | by Shad Powers | Comments

Move over Da Vinci Code. Kentucky Fried Chicken you can keep your 11 secret herbs and spices. There is a new mystery that the wisest minds are trying to crack — how to break a three-way tie atop the DVL softball standings.

La Quinta, Palm Desert and Indio all finished 10-2 in the DVL. Each sweeping a two-game series with one of the other two and getting swept by the other one. Congratulations to all three on being DVL tri-champs — The first time that’s ever happened.

But the playoff pairings will be announced on Monday, and the DVL must declare to the CIF who is the No. 1 seed, the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed.

It’s something I’ve been trying to track down since the second Palm Desert beat La Quinta on Tuesday and set up the possibility. Here is how it all went down.


Reporter Patti Myers who was at the Tuesday Palm Desert-La Quinta game asked the coaches afterward what would happen if there was a three-way tie. Neither were sure and said they’d have to talk to their athletic directors and figure it out Wednesday.

Patti followed up Wednesday, and was told since head-to-head didn’t solve the tie, it would come down to common opponents.

OK, I thought questioningly. It feels highly unlikely that these three teams will have a common out-of-conference opponent, but if that’s what the coaches said, I’m sure they’ll figure that out and I’ll get a concrete answer when reporter Judd Spicer talks to the Palm Desert and La Quinta coaches after Thursday’s game. Besides, what is the likelihood that La Quinta would lose two in a row after winning almost 40 DVL games in a row anyway?

Well, sure enough, Palm Desert won again 5-1 to set up the three-way tie.

Judd asked the La Quinta coach how the tiebreaker would be settled, perhaps the dreaded coin flip? She said either common opponents or coin clip, she wasn’t 100 percent sure, and that Judd should ask Patti. Ugh.

Judd asked the Palm Desert coach who was pretty sure it was common opponents and that a coin flip wouldn’t be necessary.

My thought, OK great, how did it turn out when you looked at common opponents? Apparently nobody had, and no coach, reporter or inbetween could solve the riddle. P.S., the Indio coach did not call in Thursday to report the team’s 6-0 win over Coachella Valley, so I couldn’t ask their opinion either.

OK, enough is enough, I said to myself. I’m taking matters into my hands. Common opponents. I’m going to look for common opponents. So I called up Palm Desert’s schedule and I had sports assistant Britten Gerrard call up La Quinta’s schedule. I told him to start reading the non-conference teams La Quinta played and I’ll see if any of them match the ones Palm Desert played. Ding. Ding. Ding. We have three — Hesperia, Hemet and Temecula Valley. Palm Desert lost to all three of those teams. La Quinta beat Hesperia and Temecula Valley but lost to Hemet. OK, we’re getting somehwere. I may finally have my coveted answer. All we have to do now is call up Indio’s schedule and see if they played Hesperia, Hemet or Temecula Valley. Let’s see here, strike one, strike two and strike three. Another dead end. This can’t be happening.

So common opponents yields no tiebreaker, which is what I guessed when I originally heard on Wednesday that that was what everyone was banking on.

You know what, let me check the CIF-SS website and see if they list the baseball/softball tiebreaking procedure for such things. At least then I’ll know if we’re on the right track. I searched every tab, every rules PDF and every thing I could find on that website and found nothing.

The end result? After three days of actively searching, and I mean really trying hard to be able to share with you the readers on Friday morning how this three-way tiebreaker was going to go down, I still have nothing.

My assumption is that there will be some sort of coin flip, probably today.

If I ran the DVL. This is how I would break such a tie, using the action on the field, not common opponents or the dreaded coin flip.


After head-to-head to break a three-way tie, I would not use common opponents or a coin flip. A much better way to break the tie would be to use the run-differential in the games between the three teams that are tied. It’s much better because it actually takes into account what happened o the field. With that in mind, this is how it would play out. Here are the six games of importance:

Indio 3, Palm Desert 1

Indio 8, Palm Desert 3

La Quinta 4, Indio 3

La Quinta 3, Indio 2

Palm Desert 5, La Quinta 1

Palm Desert 5, La Quinta 1

To do the math: Indio scored 16 runs and yielded 11 (+5); La Quinta scored nine runs and yielded 15 (-6); Palm Desert scored 14 runs and yielded 13 (+1).

So under this scenario, which I think is the best and fairest, Indio would be the No. 1 seed. Then you could either carry on with it and have Palm Desert be No. 2 and La Quinta be No. 3 or just go to head-to-head once you take Indio out of it and Palm Desert would still be No. 2 having beaten La Quinta head-to-head.


Another general question is: How would you do a three-way coin flip? This is how I would do it, and this might be how they actually do it, I really don’t know.

I would have all three athletic directors flip a coin simultaneously. This will result in one of two things — A) All three will have the same thing either all heads or all tails or B) It will be a two-one split where two people will have the same and one person will be a loner.

If it’s A, you flip it again until you get a two-one split. If it’s B, the lone wolf is the winner. You want to be the one in the two-one split.

I conducted a hypothetical and highly unofficial coin flip here in the office at 12:03 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning (you see this quest is not something I take lightly). I handed news editor Marie McCain a dime and asked her if she wanted to be La Quinta or Palm Desert. She said La Quinta. I handed copy editor Will Toren a dime and told him he was Palm Desert. As an east-valley resident I chose to represent Indio. On the count of three, we flipped our coins. Mine was heads. Marie’s, once she found it on the ground, was heads. And Will’s was tails. Boom. It’s just that simple. We have a winner Will/Palm Desert is the No. 1 seed in the DVL. The remaining two revert to the head-to-head tiebreaker which would go to La Quinta over Indio. There you have it. 1. Palm Desert, 2. La Quinta, 3. Indio.

Anyway, as you can see I’ve had some fun and some hair-pulling moments trying to figure this out. Hopefully at some point on Friday we’ll be able to reveal what actually happens.

Until then, I can at least rest assured that one thing we know for sure is the fourth-place team also gets the final automatic bid. So at least I can rely on that. Let me se who finished in fourth — Coachella Valley was 5-7 and Palm Springs was 5-7. Wait a minute. What? They’re tied, too. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


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