Softball games to watch this week
After a wild week (in spots) in Division I and, to some degree, Division III, two more weeks of regular season action remain. This is also about the time when schedules get squished like sardines to fit all the games in, so 3-4 games per week is more a rule than exception from here on out.
(All games at 3:45 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Records are power rankings games as of Monday, April 8):
Hamilton at Chandler: Two days after a good win against Tucson Salpointe Catholic, Hamilton (No. 25 at 4-6) let one get away in a loss to Casa Grande. That could hurt later, because after this week (Mesquite on Wednesday and hosting Chandler on Thursday, it gets rough: Basha on Friday, Horizon, Perry, Xavier and Casa Grande again to end the season. It’ll be a huge boost to strength of schedule so a few losses might still be enough to get Hamilton a bottom playoff spot (top 24 based on power rankings) but it’s going to be tight. Nearly all the same can be said for Chandler (No. 32 at 3-6) with the likes of Basha, Desert Vista, Red Mountain, Perry, Corona del Sol left to play. Recent struggles for the Wolves (three losses in past four games against winnable competition) could be too much to overcome.
Shadow Mountain at Paradise Valley: A matchup of top 10 teams in Div. II. David Moore’s Trojans (No. 10 at 9-2) moved up in the rankings with a couple other schools’ losses and a big win against Phoenix Greenway last week. The Trojans’ schedule set up pretty well for them in terms of winning out their final power rankings games, a bit unexpected given recent success of Notre Dame (Tuesday’s opponent) and Arcadia, both are down a bit this season. The two schools will meet again on April 15 at Shadow Mtn.
Corona del Sol at Gilbert: Gilbert is back in the top 5 mix in Division, having put up 11 runs on Red Mountain in a win last week (a 6-2 loss to Basha two weeks ago also worth noting), and the Tigers (No. 5 at 8-2) are again looking like a team capable of making another deep state tournament run (if the young pitching stays strong). Since the Desert Mountain tournament, Corona del Sol (No. 16 at 10-2) has reeled off six consecutive wins, including wins against Desert Vista, Hamilton and Mountain Pointe. Still, no team they’ve faced recently has Gilbert’s hitting, so it’s a good test for the Aztecs to find out what they’ll be facing in a couple weeks.
Chandler at Desert Vista: We’ve covered the grind Chandler is about to endure above, with tossup games such as this one essential for snatching one of those remaining playoff spots on the merit of its power ranking. D.V. (No. 20 at 6-3) is way behind the curve schedule-wise (not their fault), so the Thunder is going through a gauntlet to end the season, at least in terms of quantity. This game is but the tip of the iceberg (more on that down below), which means the Thunder are going to have to dig deep to find some wins during these 3- and 4-games in 4-5 days per week.
Chaparral at Horizon (6 p.m.): If you like watching high school girls alternate between stud pitchers and prolific power hitters, here’s the place to be on Wednesday night. Two of the better E.V. pitchers in sophomore Tamara Statman (Horizon) and Dallas McBride (Chaparral) will likely face off. McBride doubles as a top-notch hitter (eight home runs) for the Firebirds (No. 12 at 8-2), along with Kendra Coleman. Statman is becoming a more polished table-setter atop the Huskies order, and teammates Margaret Stahm and Kaila Jacobi have combined for 15 home runs for the Huskies (No. 15 at 6-2). Chaparral beat Horizon, 5-3, on March 5, but the Huskies have been one of the hottest teams in Div. I since.
Valley Christian at Phoenix Country Day (3:30 p.m.): Valley Christian (No. 10 at 8-3) rebounded nicely from last week’s loss to AZ Lutheran Academy with two blowout wins to stay in the mix for a first-round bye in Division IV. A win here for PCD (No. 16 at 4-4) would help the schedule, because while PCD played (but lost) against the likes of Phoenix Christian and AZ Lutheran, the rest of the schedule has been a little flimsy. The Trojans will have played Chandler Prep on Tuesday, and eeked out a 3-2 win against PCD in early March on a neutral field.
Mountain Pointe at Desert Vista: Yes, the Ahwatukee rivalry is back, and while not nearly as hostile as in football, both teams have plenty to play for even without the rivalry aspect to this. The Pride (No. 17 at 7-3) were shut out last week by both Mountain Ridge and Corona del Sol before beating Maricopa to end the week. Still, it put the Pride a little bit, and though there’s a chance for a strong finish to the season based on the schedule, Mtn. Pointe might get more out of these games (win or lose) with D.V. than the relatively easy competition they’ll face thereafter. D.V. is in a similar boat, with a chance to have a strong regular season finish albeit against average competition.
Perry at Desert Ridge (7 p.m.): Sometimes, Perry (No. 7 at 9-2) looks poised to be a Div. I semifinalist. Sometimes, most recently in two games vs. Basha, the Pumas can’t hit. Sometimes, Desert Ridge (No. 14 at 6-5 thanks to the 2nd highest strength of schedule in Div. I behind Basha) is a Cinderella team (wins vs. Red Mountain twice, Gilbert, Mountain Pointe and Corona del Sol, albeit a few of those came in tournaments. Sometimes, the Jaguars can’t hit against Gilbert and Mountain View. The Jaguars remain one of the more interesting E.V. teams this season, and Jennifer Broderick’s team has come a l-o-n-g way from D-Ridge’s recent history. This should be a better reflection of both schools after D-Ridge won 11-0 over Perry late in the Red Mountain tournament in late Feb. It’s a great test for both teams and should make for two dandy games in two days (D-Ridge at Perry on Friday at 3:45 p.m.).
Queen Creek at Campo Verde: Q.C. took the first matchup, 7-4, to begin March. The Bulldogs (No. 17 at 7-2) are in solid shape for earning a playoff berth, but Katie Bundy’s team has been a partial victim of geographic scheduling, and, thus, wild fluctuations in competition, which has kept the Bulldogs down a bit in the rankings. Still, a three-game winning streak could further grow, with a matchup against Seton Catholic on April 22 possibly the most difficult challenge left. Campo Verde (No. 33 at 5-6) lost consecutive one-run games last week to Williams Field and Casa Grande. That could prove to be a dagger in the Coyotes’ season, as they appear to nearly win out to have a chance at postseason play.
Red Mountain at Mountain View: Here we go again. The top Mesa schools meet for the umpteenth time in the past two years (postseason, regular season tournaments, regular season games, etc…… Mountain View (No. 5 at 8-1) is on a nice run since late March, with wins against Desert Ridge and Desert Mountain. No secrets here, with Val Kaff likely to get the nod for the Toros in the circle and Bre Macha for the Lions. Red Mountain got pushed around pretty good last week in losses to Gilbert and Desert Ridge, the first time since Feb. 2011 that Red Mountain (No. 9 at 7-3) lost consecutive games. The Lions hammered Skyline to end last week and help rid that taste, but everyone knows this matchup is a different entity. The Lions won 4-1 early this season and it will be Mountain View’s fourth game of the week
Seton Catholic at Marcos de Niza: These two Div. II schools met on Saturday, with Seton winning, 8-4, on what was Seton’s alumni day on Saturday to remain unbeaten in power rankings games (No. 12 at 10-0). That extremely low strength of schedule isn’t going to move upward much the remaining couple weeks, so a loss or two (possibly though not real likely) could really hinder the Sentinels. Marcos (No. 35 at 7-5) has similar problems with its schedule rating, yet lost 3-2 to Perry (which would have been a big boost in the rankings) and then Seton. Consolation doesn’t mean much here, but a win might put the Padres back into postseason contention with (outside another Perry matchup to come) a real chance to reel 4-5 more wins).
Tags: Basha, Campo Verde, Chandler, Chaparral, Corona del Sol, Desert Ridge, desert vista, games to watch, Gilbert, Hamilton, Horizon, marcos de niza, Mountain Pointe, Mountain View, Perry, Queen Creek, Red Mountain, Seton Catholic, Valley Christian