Highland softball trying to hang on
With two weeks left in the regular season, the playoff push is on, and it’s a crowded cluster in Division I near the bottom with schools trying to make the top 24.
Since four teams in each of the three sections earn automatic bids (the remaining 12 based on the power rankings), and Section 1 has only three teams in the top 24 (as of Friday morning), a non-Section 1 team might need to finish23rd or higher in the final rankings to avoid being bumped out by a fourth school from Section 1.
Among those is Highland (No. 27) which is 5-5 entering Friday’s matchup with neighboring Gilbert (No. 5). The Hawks are coming off a blowout loss to Basha on Thursday.
In addition to Thursday’s loss, the Hawks have arguably the most brutal road to end the regular season: Gilbert on Friday, vs. Carl Hayden (April 15), at Desert Vista (April 16), vs. Desert Ridge (April 18), at Red Mountain (April 19), at Desert Ridge (April 23) and vs. Basha (April 24).
Add in wins against Skyline (April 8) and Perry (April 9), and the Hawks are playing 10 games in 16 days, eight of those against top-20 teams in the power rankings.
The Hawks are also doing this with four starters out because of injuries (it was five until early this week): Broken shoulder, injured hamstring, broken finger, dislocated finger, broken ankle, and, on Thursday, another player was hit in the shoulder by a line drive and coach Glen LaBoissiere said she’ll miss at least Friday’s game.