5A Division I baseball state tournament
When: Saturday through May 14
Where: First round and first loser’s bracket round at higher seed; remaining games at Camelback Ranch Glendale Stadium or Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
First round schedule: 11 a.m. — No. 16 North Canyon at No. 1 Mesquite; No. 9 Brophy at No. 8 Alhambra; No. 12 Highland at No. 5 Mountain View; No. 13 Casa Grande at No. 4 Hamilton; No. 15 Maryvale at No. 2 Mountain Pointe; No. 11 Corona del Sol at No. 6 Gilbert; No. 14 Dobson at No. 3 Desert Ridge. No. 10 Trevor Browne at No. 7 Salpointe.
Favorite: Mountain Pointe — The Pride have the state’s best player in Kevin Cron and a lineup that has already set a state record for home runs in a season. The pitching is the biggest question mark, but a favorable draw early gives Mountain Pointe the edge over Mesquite as the favorite.
Dark horse: Gilbert — The Tigers struggled for a long stretch in the middle of the season, but are playing well at the right time. Division I commits Stephen Tarpley (USC), Drew Stankiewicz (Cal State Fullerton) and Nathaniel Causey (ASU) lead a talented group that could make a run.
Outlook: Mesquite, Mountain Pointe, Desert Ridge and Hamilton have separated themselves as the top 4 teams in the state, but at this time of year, who knows how it will shake out? The Jaguars are the defending champions and have ace Scott Hoffman to lead the way. Hamilton probably has the deepest pitching staff in the tournament, while Mesquite has been the best and most consistent team throughout the regular season. Mountain View has been solid all year, while Brophy and Corona del Sol both have the type of teams that can pull off upsets. Even though baseball can be an unpredictable game, the champion should come from one of the top four seeds.
5A Division II baseball state tournament
When: Saturday through May 14
Where: First round and first loser’s bracket round at higher seed; remaining games at Surprise Baseball Stadium, Peoria Baseball Stadium, Camelback Ranch Glendale Stadium or Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
First round schedule: 11 a.m. — No. 16 Marcos de Niza at No. 1 Boulder Creek; No. 15 Sandra Day O’Connor at No. 2 Chaparral; No. 14 Tolleson at No. 3 Desert Mountain; No. 13 Cibola at No. 4 Pinnacle; No. 10 Valley Vista at No. 7 Ironwood Ridge; No. 11 Sunnyside at No. 6 Horizon. 1 p.m. — No. 9 Gila Ridge at No. 8 Millennium; No. 12 Perry at No. 5 Yuma;
Favorite: Boulder Creek — Playing in a weaker region can normally be cause for concern, but Boulder Creek beefed up its non-region schedule enough to prove its worth. The Jaguars went 18-0 in power point games and 31-4 overall. They take a 13-game winning streak into the tournament.
Dark horse: Perry — The Pumas are only a No. 12 seed, but the draw is favorable. The first round is against Yuma, and a potential winner’s bracket matchup with a struggling Pinnacle team looms. Perry has a win over Mesquite this season, so an upset of Pinnacle wouldn’t be out of the question.
Outlook: After Boulder Creek, the familiar Desert Valley Region contingent will be in the mix for the title. Chaparral is the No. 2 seed, Desert Mountain the No. 3, Pinnacle at No. 4, and Horizon is No. 6. While none of them are the pre-emptive favorite like many have been in the past, those are four solid programs with players that know how to perform. It would be surprising not to see at least a couple of those traditional powers in the semifinals.