Written by Corbett Smith
Why Lake Dallas, Canyon Randall will open playoffs several hours away in Oklahoma City
In one of the more absurd playoff locales ever for a UIL playoff game, Lake Dallas will open its bi-district softball series against Canyon Randall with a doubleheader at Oklahoma City University on Friday night, a whopping 130 miles inside the Oklahoma border -- at least for Lake Dallas supporters. For Canyon Randall fans, it's more like 150 miles in.
Why would two teams play a playoff opener that far inside another state?
"Well, between here and Canyon, there's not that many places to play," Lake Dallas athletic director Scott Head said. "We looked around, but all of those other sites were washed up. Everyone else is playing there."
Randall's option was to play in Snyder, 188 miles south-southwest from Canyon -- and 277 miles west of Lake Dallas.
And Lake Dallas chose OKC, a 176-mile drive from home, and nearly 100 additional miles for Randall.
Lake Dallas won the flip, getting Oklahoma City.
It's not unheard of for teams to dip into other states, looking for an appropriate venue to accommodate large games. I wrote a blog post and a story about it during the football playoffs, when Mesquite Horn played Longview in Shreveport's Independence Bowl.
In those stories, I mentioned that it in previous years, playoff games -- nearly all in football -- were played just inside the border of New Mexico or Louisiana, because expected playoff crowds were greater than the capacity of available high school stadiums.
But for softball?
Head said Oklahoma City University -- with its newish Ann Lacy Stadium, which according to OCU's media guide is "regarded as one of the finest small-college softball facilities in the nation" -- was his school's preferred location, given their limited options.
"We thought it would be cool," Head said, pointing out that Oklahoma City is home to the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum. "And it's really not a bad drive for us or them. We can jump right on [Interstate] 35, and they can jump on [Interstate] 40, and get there in three or four hours."
Head added long playoff trips were the reality for teams in Region I, where teams from the western half of the Dallas/Fort Worth area travel to meet schools from the Panhandle, West Texas, or -- in the second and third rounds -- El Paso. He also said Oklahoma City is close enough to drive back Friday night, avoiding the cost of hotel rooms.
In an even more absurd twist, if the series goes to a deciding third game, it will be played Monday night in Snyder.
The reason for a new far-flung venue, three days later? Lake Dallas' prom is on Saturday.
"Girls and prom are a big deal," Head said.