5A Division II Softball State Tournament
When: Saturday through May 14 (double elimination)
Where: May 1, 4 and 5 at higher seed; May 6, 7, 8 and 11 at Sandra Day O’Connor HS; May 12 and 14 at Rose Mofford Softball Complex (9833 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix)
First-round schedule (all games at 11 a.m.): No. 16 Ironwood Ridge at No. 1 Centennial; No. 9 Lake Havasu at No. 8 Perry; No. 12 Desert Mountain at No. 5 Chaparral; No. 13 Carl Hayden at No. 4 Sandra Day O’Connor; No. 15 La Joya at No. 2 Cibola; No. 10 Pinnacle at No. 7 Ironwood; No. 11 Yuma at No. 6 Sunnyside; No. 14 Betty Fairfax at No. 3 Deer Valley.
Favorite: Four or five teams can make a case here, but No. 1 Centennial has the best pitcher in 5A-II (and arguably all of 5A) in Morgan Montemayor, a powerful offense and has beaten 5A-I favorite St. Mary’s twice.
Darkhorse: Chaparral has a strong pitcher in Rae Ball and a balanced lineup. The Firebirds also played the toughest power point schedule (based on opponent wins) in 5A-II. The biggest hurdles will be dangerous region rival Desert Mountain in the first round and Centennial looming in the third round.
Outlook: This field looks deeper than 5A-I, with Centennial, Deer Valley and Sunnyside at the top tier, followed by Chaparral, Sandra Day O’Connor, Chaparral, Ironwood and Perry. The Pumas and Desert Mountain are both lying in the weeds. If the Wolves’ youth in the circle can stay focused, Desert Mountain is among the better hitting teams in 5A-II. Allison Robinson’s Pumas moved up from a 4A-II semifinals appearance last year with the almost identical roster, and Perry beat several 5A-I teams this season.