Softball state tournament second-round matchups
Round one is in the books, a Saturday filled with some drama, blowouts and a few surprises (congrats to Chandler and Desert Vista) sets up a few interesting matchups on Tuesday.
This is the last “elimination” round of the tournament, which means the winners on Tuesday advance to the final eight in Division I or Division II and will have a double-elimination format the rest of the way (until obviously the championship games).
All games at 4 p.m.:
No. 16 Perry at No. 1 Basha: The Pumas have won 10 consecutive games in a row heading into Tuesday, but Basha (as the Bears have done with practically everyone this season) owned the regular season with 5-2 and 3-0 victories against their Chandler neighbors. The Pumas are a confident bunch. If ace Jillian Leslie and her defense holds up (the Pumas probably can’t afford more than one error), they have a legitimate chance here. Will the week off matter for the Basha/Red Mountain/Gilbert/Xavier/Horizon of this tournament? Who knows. Basha coach Scott Hoffmeyer and a couple of his players watched Perry beat Corona del Sol on Saturday, and he had no opinion one way or the other about the extra days off (other than a couple actual practices which have been rare for everyone this season).
No. 18 Mountain View at No. 2 Red Mountain: Here we go again. This will be the fourth meeting between these rivals this season. The Toros beat Red Mountain (2-1) during the Lion Country Classic to begin the season. The Lions countered twice during the power points portion of the schedule. Plus we all know that Mountain View is better than the No. 18 attached to it, and the adage about beating a team three times in a row…….. Still, the Lions’ pitching staff (Bre Macha for most of the matchups) and their defense has handled Mountain View’s potentially potent lineup all three times (MV has three total runs in those three games). Mountain View got a home run from Sidney Ryan in the seventh inning for a 1-0 victory against Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor on Saturday. There’s almost no chance anything new or alarming that either team doesn’t know or could surmise about the other will happen. Given its lineup and pitching depth it’s hard to go against Red Mountain, but this one could be really good.
No. 9 Desert Mountain at No. 8 Centennial: The Wolves had no trouble punishing Tucson Sunnyside, but Peoria Centennial will be a different game. Glendale Deer Valley and Phoenix North Canyon are the only two common opponents between these two teams in power point games, and DM and Centennial both won all those matchups. Both teams have beaten several quality opponents (DM against EV schools, Centennial against Phoenix and WV schools). The Wolves lost to Pinnacle twice, Mountain View and Horizon. The Coyotes lost to Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Glendale Cactus and Glendale Mountain Ridge. Basically, this has the makings of a perfectly unknown 8-vs.-9 toss up, though it’s hard to go against Desert Mountain when its defense holds up and the bats are swinging.
No. 20 Desert Vista at No. 4 Gilbert: Great start by the Thunder in winning at No. 12 Pinnacle, a Pioneers team that was better than its seeding during the regular season (especially down the stretch). Danielle Block was excellent for D.V. in the circle and the Thunder got key hits from multiple spots in the lineup. Block will have to do it again (without any walks) against a good, deep Gilbert lineup, and the Thunder are going to have to hit their way on base because Gilbert’s defense has been as good as there is in the state. Gilbert should advance (unless the week off hurts them), but either way, kudos to the Thunder. Chris Crowl’s program hasn’t been to the tournament in five years – let alone won a game.
No. 19 Chandler at No. 3 Xavier: Speaking of big wins on Saturday, Desert Vista had one, and Chandler earned the other. The Wolves got big hits from Alexus Ybarra and Kristal Whiteside in upsetting Chaparral on Saturday. Whiteside was the star on the mound as well. The Wolves will have to do it again. Even though Xavier struggled a bit down the stretch of the regular season, the Gators do have quality wins (Chaparral, Horizon, Pinnacle) and played Basha tough in a loss. The Wolves can definitely win this game if Whiteside can do it again in the circle, play perfect defense behind her and don’t fall victim to some of the Gators’ on-field “trickery.”
No. 22 Tucson at No. 6 Horizon: In addition to being on a roll (seven consecutive wins entering the playoffs including Desert Mountain and Xavier in the final week), the Huskies might have gotten the best second-round draw of them all. Tucson is coming off a good road win at Lake Havasu, so what’s another trip? This one, however, will be much tougher, as Havasu’s schedule wasn’t very arduous. Horizon’s was, and Brian Casey’s team is well aware the pitfalls that rivals Chaparral and Pinnacle ran into last weekend.
No. 15 Queen Creek at No. 2 Canyon del Oro: After fretting the Bulldogs’ 12-3 record wouldn’t be enough to get into the postseason because of its schedule, QC won its final three games to finish 15-3 and vault into the postseason. Then the Bulldogs crushed Peoria Liberty on Saturday, but despite feeling like they’re better than a 15-seed (which they probably are) this is a rough way to try and get into the double elimination format. CDO’s lone loss in PP games was to Tucson Ironwood Ridge (after CDO won the first matchup in wild game to begin the season and another nail-biter in a tournament), so that’s nothing at all to sneeze at. They also beat Basha, Corona del Sol, Chaparral and Horizon in the Desert Mountain tournament. It’s a tall task for Katie Bundy’s Bulldogs, but stranger things have happened. And QC is a healthy bunch with a good middle of the lineup (Amanda Baldwin, Lexis Valenzuela, Kelsey Montgomery, Raianna Dobbs). If Baldwin is “on” and the defense is flawless, QC has a good shot.
No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 7 Sabino: Notre Dame and Queen Creek could share a bus to Tucson if they want to cut expenses, but Notre Dame appears to have a little better odds of coming home successfully. For one, unlike CDO, Sabino’s schedule wasn’t the most challenging. The Sabercats beat Ironwood Ridge in the regular season, so that’s huge, plus wins against Sahuaro and Vail Cienega. But they were crushed by CDO and barely played anyone else of note. Tess McPherson’s continued health and effectiveness will carry Notre Dame as far as it can go, and she’s coming off an 11-strikeout shutout of Douglas in the first round. Sabino’s lineup makes a repeat of that unlikely, but the Saints have every reason to feel they can win.
No. 22 Vista Grande at No. 6 Saguaro: Who are these ladies? Vista Grande lost three of its last four regular season games, then trailed No. 11 Paradise Valley by four runs in the seventh inning before a miraculous comeback put the new Casa Grande school into the second round. Other notable wins this season include Hamilton and Campo Verde this year. Dana Dal Soglio relies on the defense behind her, while the rested Sabercats have Elise Oldham and Dana Mintz in the middle of the lineup. After what happened to P.V., Saguaro probably doesn’t need a reminder to play for 27 outs.