Division I and II softball state tournament outlooks - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Division I and II softball state tournament outlooks

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:26 pm | Updated: 8:53 pm, Tue May 15, 2012.

In summarizing months of power points debates, head-scratching schedules, alignments and plenty more unsolved mysteries, let’s leave it to famous psychologist Carl Jung to surmise — out of his original context — the final and most important two weeks of high school softball which begins Saturday:

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”

So begins the Division I and Div. II state tournaments this weekend, with Div. III and Div. IV set to begin next Wednesday.

The regular season consisted of tournaments, endless debate regarding the power point system, frustrations related to the computer scheduling system, new state tournament setups, injuries and fatigue.

Caught in the middle of this pinball game is coaches and kids, but for once the shift focuses to those hands (plus legs and minds): Pitching, fielding and hitting.

In a weird way, thanks in-part to the schedules and power points, there are (with a few exceptions) many more questions than answers about these big-school tournaments, and especially the schools playing in them.

Which schools might benefit from awkward schedules? Which schools might be busts because of them? Who’s worthy of their seeding? Who’s better? Who’s worse? Which teams’ win-loss record is an accurate depiction of their ability? Who can stay healthy? Will being hot or cold to end the season matter? Will a first-round bye and (nearly) one week break for the top eight teams be a boon or bust?

The kids’ hands will yield answers, and in 15 days, the mysteries will be solved.

 

Division I softball state tournament

When: Saturday through May 14

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; Third round through semifinals at Rose Mofford Complex (9833 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix); Championship game May 14 at approx. 7:30 p.m. at Arizona State.

Format: 24 teams; The top eight teams (based on power points) receive a first-round bye; First two rounds are single elimination; Remaining rounds are double elimination

Favorite: Red Mountain. You can pretty much call Basha “1B” here (Red Mountain won the regular season’s only matchup in a pretty meaningless game at the end of the Desert Mountain tournament), but the defending state champions and No. 2 seed gets the nod here on account of a deep, consistent offense and two pitchers (Siera Phillips and Bre Macha) with sub-2.00 earned run averages. Basha earned the No. 1 seed with a slightly more difficult schedule, and you can pretty much flip a coin between these teams for this spot. Basha has pretty much shown the same attributes all year long, so a meeting at Arizona State between these two schools would surprise exactly no one.

Darkhorse: Just about everyone else qualifies here, as there appears to be a mini-tier between Red Mountain/Basha, and, say, Gilbert, Horizon, Xavier, Pinnacle, Chaparral or Peoria Centennial. Let’s go deep down the list, however, and take Mountain View. The Toros nearly became the first team to win the Desert Mountain tournament (often referred to as the second state tournament for its caliber of teams) and not make the state tournament. But Joe Goodman’s group squeaked into the tournament despite a relatively soft schedule (not their fault) and a few close losses against good teams (partially their fault). Darlings of last year’s tournament in reaching the state semifinals, the lineup is potent, and the key will be Val Kaff in the circle. She’s about as good as anybody in the state when she’s “on,” but 180+ innings in this shortened, crammed regular season schedule is a lot. Is there two weeks of fuel left in her tank?

Outlook: Outside the favorites of Red Mountain and Basha, the expanded tournament has added intrigue and a 24-team field that’s pretty ripe with parity. Gilbert could easily return the semifinals reached in 2011, as the Tigers were on Red Mountain/Basha level (they beat Basha in March) until they lost to Basha and Pinnacle within the last week. Watch out for Xavier (even though the Gators lost a couple games late in the season) as well as Scottsdale-schools Desert Mountain, Chaparral, Horizon and, especially of late, Pinnacle. They’ve all taken turns beating one another and successfully navigated difficult schedules, and surviving that level of competition consistently is key to making a deep tournament run. Those schools, notably the last three listed, are viewed by nearly everyone as being significantly better than the seed given. Because of the first-round bye, the biggest advantage a top-eight team has is it only has to win once to reach the double elimination rounds. Once it whittles down to the final eight teams, having three or four days between games in the winner’s bracket will be interesting. The good news for teams that fall into the loser’s bracket (especially pitchers) is that there’s often a day or two between games.

 

Division II softball state tournament

When: Saturday through May 14

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; Third round through semifinals at Rose Mofford Complex (9833 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix); Championship game May 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Arizona State.

Format: 24 teams; The top eight teams (based on power points) receive a first-round bye; First two rounds are single elimination; Remaining rounds are double elimination

Favorite: Tucson Canyon del Oro has played a difficult enough schedule, including an early-season win against Pinnacle, and had a very nice showing in the Desert Mountain tournament against some top Division I schools (Horizon, Basha, Corona del Sol), and the Dorados enter the tournament on a nine-game winning streak.

Darkhorse: Tossup here between Saguaro, Notre Dame and Paradise Valley, but Notre Dame it is. Yes, Mike Hollowell’s team lost twice to Saguaro, but the Saints have the ingredients and favorable matchups as the No. 10 seed to at least reach the final eight. The Saints have an ace in Tess McPherson (18-8 record, 1.62 ERA, 235 strikeouts) who hits cleanup, another run producer in Nicole Bailey (26 RBI to McPherson’s 29) and a bunch of girls who find ways to reach base.

Outlook: Similar to Division I, there’s a tier that appears to have formed involving Tucson schools Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge, plus Peoria Sunrise Mountain (Nos. 1 through 3 in power points). Those three are followed by everyone else. Who among those three is the best is pretty difficult to gauge given the uneven schedules, and that CDO and Ironwood Ridge split its two games during the PP schedule. But it’s going to be difficult to beat those three teams early, let alone twice later on. Yet there’s still plenty of teams capable of upsetting the top three or otherwise making a deep run. Casa Grand has played the best Div. I teams in the state and beat all Div. II and Div. III teams it faced. Paradise Valley reached the championship game of the Desert Mountain tournament and has a strong pitcher in Mariah Valencia. Queen Creek (15-3) is finally starting to get healthy with the return of Raianna Dobbs from injury, though the Bulldogs are at No. 15 because of a weak power point schedule. Peoria, Tucson Sahuaro and Verrado are also lying in the weeds.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

EVT Ice Bucket Challenge

The East Valley Tribune accepts the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Facebook

VarsityXtra on Facebook

Twitter

VarsityXtra on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to VarsityXtra via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px
VXShout
VXVote
Loading…
Your Az Jobs
VXStats

Arizona HS Football Leaders



Arizona HS Volleyball Leaders



[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]
VXArchives
VarsityXtra