Softball state tournament ramblings
As the “second season” begins on Saturday around the state, a few bits of randomness about these brackets.
–For the most part (and it’ll never be exact) the seedings at the top of Division I are pretty spot-on. Or, at least, there are good arguments to be made that Basha (No. 1), Red Mountain (No. 2), Xavier (No. 3), Gilbert (No. 4) and Horizon (No. 6) are worthy of their spots. Xavier might be the biggest question mark of those given the Gators’ late-season slide after dropping three of their last four PP games.
–Many might be sick of it, but I’m still a fan of Basha and Red Mountain being on opposite sides of the bracket. Of course, “The Red Mountain Way” of the past six years involves the Lions losing an early game in the tournament and then winning through the rest of the tournament. That won’t work anymore.
–I like the idea of first and second-round games being a win-or-go-home scenario, but no doubt coaches will hate it if they’re trailing late against a good team. And, of course, the argument to be made that earning your way into the tournament with these crazy schedules and winning all of your games should be better rewarded if you stumble once in the tournament. It’s a legitimate argument for sure, but it’s good to shake things up (especially since it allowed 24 teams into the tournaments which was necessary given the new alignments).
–Watch out for Horizon. Brian Casey’s club won seven consecutive games to end the regular season, including wins against Xavier, Desert Mountain and Pinnacle. The Huskies wait for the winner of the Lake Havasu/Tucson winner in the second round. If Horizon advances (which it should), the Huskies would have Xavier/Chaparral/Chandler in that first game of the double-elimination format. Annoying no doubt if it’s Xavier or Chaparral again given how many times they’ve played each other already, but definitely winnable.
–For earning the No. 2 seed, there’s no chance Red Mountain is happy about the prospect of playing Mountain View in an elimination game (second round).
–No. 16 Perry faces No. 17 Corona del Sol in the opening round. Perry is coached by Kevin Chapin, who was hired before this season to replace Allison Robinson after Chapin spent nine years as an assistant to Jeep Ray at Corona del Sol. Also, the Pumas won nine consecutive PP games to close out the regular season, and hammered CDS,17-6, in the Red Mountain tournament to begin the season in late February. Naturally, Corona’s pitching and defense have been a wee-bit better since.
–No. 13 Pinnacle remains among the teams to watch out for in this tournament given the Pioneers’ schedule and who they’ve beaten (with a sophomore and freshman doing most of the pitching). Along with Red Mountain-Mountain View (if the Toros advance) and perhaps No. 9 Desert Mountain vs. No. 8 Peoria Centennial, Pinnacle vs. Gilbert in a second-round elimination game would be a great matchup. Of course, it would also be a round or two too early.
–In Division II, No. 18 Peoria Liberty vs. No. 15 Queen Creek is the best EV matchup of the first round, but a possible meeting of Paradise Valley vs. Saguaro in the second round would be sweet. Somehow (and sadly) these two teams never met during the regular season, despite relatively nearby proximation.
–No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Sabino also figures to be a good second-round matchup. If the Saints can keep their pitching healthy and get on base, Mike Hollowell’s team will go places.
–Kudos to Horizon Honors for winning its last three games (against schools with winning records) to grab the No. 20 spot in Division III. The reward is No. 13 Willcox and then No. 4 Benson in single-elimination format. Ugh.
–Talk about tough sledding, the EV schools in Division IV are up against it. Valley Christian (No. 12) should beat Seligman in the first round, but No. 5 Phoenix Country Day awaits, and the Trojans suffered a 11-6 loss to PCD in early March. Fortunately, it was early March. Tempe Prep is better than its No. 17 but a date with No. 1 Pusch Ridge awaits in the second round, and that’s a team which is worthy of its No. 1 ranking. Scottsdale Christian (No. 14) just beat Phoenix Christian, 3-2, last week. They meet again with the winner getting No. 3 Arizona Lutheran Academy, which blew out SCA 15-4 in late-March.
Tags: 2012, Basha, Desert Mountain, Gilbert, Horizon, Mountain View, Notre Dame, Paradise Valley, Pinnacle, Queen Creek, Red Mountain, Saguaro, softball, state tournament, Tempe Prep, Valley Christian