4A Division I State Softball Tournament
When: Saturday through May 15 (single elimination)
Where: First two rounds at higher seed; semifinals and championship at Rose Mofford Softball Complex (9833 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix)
First-round schedule: No. 16 Desert View at No. 1 Cienega; No. 9 Saguaro at No. 8 Sahuaro; No. 12 Shadow Mountain at No. 5 Sunnyslope; No. 13 Marana at No. 4 Sabino; No. 14 Cactus Shadows at No. 3 Peoria; No. 11 Raymond Kellis at No. 6 Canyon del Oro; No. 10 Prescott at No. 7 Queen Creek; No. 15 Dysart at No. 2 Sunrise Mountain
Favorite: It’s not wise to go away from three-time defending champion Canyon del Oro, but Cienega (last year’s runner-up to CDO) didn’t lose to an Arizona school this season (they lost three times to California teams during tournaments) and that included a 3-2 victory against CDO in late April.
Darkhorse: Queen Creek won the Desert Sky Region by beating Saguaro twice, and the Bulldogs have also beaten a few 5A teams. Katie Bundy’s team may not have a dominating pitching staff, but it does have a strong defense. If the gloves and mindset stay the course, they can make the semifinals and avoid Cienega or CDO to that point.
Outlook: Half the teams in 4A-I are legitimate contenders: Cienega, Sunrise Mountain, CDO, Sabino, Peoria, Queen Creek, Saguaro and Sahuaro, with Sunnyslope knocking at the door. It’s going to make for a fun second half of this tournament.