Softball games to see this week
With most tournament action behind us (except for that kinda-big-0ne at the end of April) it’s time to focus on power rankings games for most of the rest of April, and this week offers a bounty of good matchups.
(All records and rankings as of Monday 4/1. All games at 3:45 p.m. unless otherwise noted):
Mountain Ridge at Mountain Pointe: Though not without some missteps, Mountain Pointe has quietly put together a respectable start to its power rankings season, and the Pride get a big test here in a hot Mountain Ridge team which has looked every bit the state title contender it was a year ago, only with a substantially new cast of players. If the Pride can pitch effectively, they can move up a couple notches with this game and hosting Corona del Sol on Wednesday.
Basha at Perry: It’s the second consecutive meeting between these neighbor schools. Basha (No. 3 at 6-0) won 4-0 last Thursday on a three-hitter by pitcher Lynea Klemmedson. The Pumas (No. 6 at 7-1) are desperately trying to prove their salt against elite teams and, in this case, also a rival. This could be the best game of the week.
Hamilton at Corona del Sol: Both squads are trying to right themselves post-Spring Break and make a run at the playoffs. The Huskies got off to a sluggish start to the season and had mixed performances in the Desert Mountain tournament, but the Huskies (No. 26 at 3-4) can make up a little ground here and in hosting Salpointe Catholic on Wednesday. Corona (No. 18 at 7-2) needs to win these games because its schedule (outside Gilbert and Mountain Pointe) isn’t shaping up to be a huge help strength-wise.
Gilbert at Red Mountain (7 p.m.): Red Mountain won this matchup in late February, 13-7, behind Taylor Beeson and Jordan Beck on offense, while Gilbert’s Dani Nelson drove in four runs in the losing effort. Gilbert probably needs this game more than Red Mountain for its own confidence against a state powerhouse, and the Tigers (No. 10 at 7-2) have Basha on April 23, everything in between should be a victory. This week is an uptick in competition for the Lions (No. 5 at 6-1) having not really been tested in the Desert Mountain tournament or really since early March, and R.M. is at Desert Ridge on Wednesday.
Queen Creek at Williams Field: The Bulldogs need to move their way up the Div. II ladder to secure themselves for postseason (No. 21 at 4-2) and while Katie Bundy’s team should win this game against struggling WF (No. 55 at 1-6), it won’t help the power rankings standings much. Still, the Bulldogs are handling teams they should and losing against Div. I schools and in difficult tournaments for the sake of better competition. This is a Cancer Awareness matchup with both teams raising money for the cause, namely admission, concession and individual donations which can be made at the game.
Valley Christian at Chandler Prep (5 p.m.): Monday’s game between Valley Christian (No. 10 at 6-1) and Arizona Lutheran Academy (4 p.m. at Seton Catholic H.S.) will be a bigger test for sure, and a win would help the Trojans’ schedule significantly. But a loss won’t push them down much if at all, and this could be a trap game 24 hours later. The two teams will play against April 9, and a strong run by VC would likely vault them up the rankings because of a tougher upcoming schedule. Chandler Prep (No. 14 at 5-1) could def. use a win or two here to help a sagging strength of schedule.
Mountain Ridge at Basha: In a continuation of this strong week of matchups, how about a pair of top-five teams? Yes, please. These two teams met in the state tournament quarterfinals last season and Mountain Ridge shut out the Bears, but Basha came back through the loser’s bracket and won a 7-6 thriller against Mountain Ridge (after Red Mountain beat Mountain Ridge) in a semifinal elimination game to reach the championship. That’s in the past but a lot of both teams’ players are still around.
Red Mountain at Desert Ridge: Further north of Basha’s showdown, Red Mountain’s lone power rankings loss this season came courtesy of Desert Ridge, a 3-2 win for the Jaguars on Feb. 28. A month later, the Lions are better, while Desert Ridge (No. 16 at 4-4) has won its share of quality games and lost a couple head-scratchers. Though it’s hard to picture Red Mountain losing twice to the same team, D-Ridge freshman pitcher Bailey Klitzke was excellent against a potent RM lineup the first time around, if the Jaguars can bottle up the Lions’ offense, another one-run win is possible. And, in keeping with this season, would cause Jennifer Broderick’s team to raise more eyebrows around softball circles.
Paradise Valley at Greenway (7 p.m.): A top collision in Division II. Paradise Valley turned heads last year by reaching the championship game of the Desert Mountain tournament. This year David Moore’s team didn’t fare too well, but the Trojans (No. 15 at 6-2) faced Red Mountain, Basha, Canyon del Oro, and barely lost to Sunnyside. Maria Velencia (0.47 ERA) has been every bit as good as expected this year, it’s whether the Trojans can give her 2-3 runs against a Greenway group (No. 3 at 8-1) which enters the week on a seven-game winning streak. This game, however, will be Greenway’s third in three days.
Dobson at Desert Vista: Things are going to get real interesting toward the bottom of Div. I’s 24-team bracket, and these two are among a boatload vying for one of those spots. Dobson (No. 28 at 3-3) had a good win against St. Mary’s last week, and the Mustangs are a little behind in games played which (if they win) will allow the Mustangs to catch up. The bad news being catching up requires a jam-packed schedule for the next three weeks, and this game is the third in three days for Dobson (Gilbert twice, Corona del Sol and then the season finales are back-to-back vs. Red Mountain). That goes double for D.V. (No. 24 at 3-2) and the Thunder are just as squeezed for games (and lack of rest). The Thunder’s schedule from here on out is much easier than Dobson (two vs. Mountain Pointe and one vs. Salpointe Catholic might be the toughest). But that also means slip-ups can hurt worse.
Desert Ridge at Basha: The difficult week for both schools rages on. Similar to the Red Mountain-Gilbert matchup, Desert Ridge could probably use a win here more than Basha, in-part for confidence reasons and obviously power rankings. This will be the third game in four days for the Bears, and all three will be tough tests, so that could work in the Jaguars’ favor. These schools will meet again April 19.