Divisions I and II baseball state tournament outlooks - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Divisions I and II baseball state tournament outlooks

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Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:00 am

Outlooks for the Divisions I and II baseball state tournaments

Division I

When: April 27 through May 14

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; May 2 through 11 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium (5999 E. Van Buren, Phoenix) or Tempe Diablo Stadium (2200 W Alameda Dr, Tempe); championship game at 7 p.m. on May 14 at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Format: Twenty-four teams (based on power rankings), top eight seeds receive first-round bye; first two rounds are single elimination; third round through semifinals are double elimination; single-game championship.

Favorite: Desert Mountain — The Wolves have a deep, balanced offense and a solid rotation of pitchers. Desert Mountain has faced a grueling schedule and enters the postseason as the team to beat.

Contender: Desert Ridge — The Jaguars didn’t get a ton of publicity early on, but have won 14 straight games to jump into the championship chatter. Desert Ridge won back-to-back titles in 2009-10 and could get more hardware this season led by star shortstop Riley Unroe.

Darkhorse: Brophy — It’s been an inconsistent season for the Broncos, who have some of the best pitching in the state but need more offense. If Ryan Castellani can find his power stroke in the postseason and some other bats step up, Brophy could make another deep run following last year’s runner-up finish.

Outlook: Desert Mountain and Desert Ridge have jumped to the top of the pack, and it gets murky from there. Hamilton was the preseason No. 1 but may not secure a first-round bye, which makes the road much tougher. Sandra Day O’Connor is ranked in several national polls but has not faced a ton of stiff competition. Teams like Gilbert, St. Mary’s, Chaparral, Pinnacle, Mountain Pointe, Brophy and Tucson could all be in the mix, as they have shown flashes of dominance but have question marks as well. Plenty depends on matchups, as unfortunate second-round draws could force a contender out early. The Wolves look like the team to beat, with the Jaguars close behind. From there, it could be unpredictable.

Division II

When: April 27 through May 14

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; May 2 through 11 at Glendale Camelback Ranch (10710 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix) or Surprise Stadium (15960 N Bullard Ave, Surprise); championship game at 7 p.m. on May 14 at Camelback Ranch

Format: Twenty-four teams (based on power rankings), top eight seeds receive first-round bye; first two rounds are single elimination; third round through semifinals are double elimination; single-game championship.

Favorite: Greenway — The Demons have won 27 straight games and it’s almost all on the strength of sophomores and juniors. Greenway is in the top-six in both runs scored (249) and runs allowed (73), making it the team to beat.

Contender: Notre Dame — The Saints ooze talent and have navigated arguably the toughest schedule in Division II. Notre Dame has long been on the short list of contenders and hopes to capture a title this season.

Darkhorse: Sunrise Mountain — The Mustangs have stumbled a bit to a 19-9 overall record, but were last year’s No. 1 overall seed and have the top-notch pitching duo of Brick Paskiewicz and Seth Martinez which could easily get them into the quarterfinals.

Outlook: Greenway has established itself as the favorite, but there are four teams which seem to be the front-runners to win it all. Notre Dame is in that mix, as well as defending champion Sunnyslope and last year’s runner-up, Liberty. Those two teams have posted impressive records and have the experience of last year’s deep run. There are a host of Tucson teams who will also be primed to compete, led by Sahuaro, Ironwood Ridge and Canyon del Oro. The list of top teams from Division II is spread out across the state, and there aren’t as many head-to-head matchups, so teams like Verrado, Coconino and Gila Ridge are wild cards. Seton Catholic could end up as the No. 1 overall seed and is on a 16-game winning streak, so it certainly must be viewed as a viable threat.

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