VX softball rankings: 3/4 - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

VX softball rankings: 3/4

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Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 1:15 pm | Updated: 7:27 pm, Tue Mar 12, 2013.

Tribune softball rankings as of March 4:

Division I

1. Basha

2. Red Mountain

3. Horizon

4. Mountain View

5. Pinnacle

6. Desert Ridge

7. Perry

8. Centennial

9. Mountain Ridge

10. Gilbert

Being early March, we’ll start with Basha on top on the strength of winning the Lion Country Classic and with only one loss (to Red Mountain). Even though they’ve already split a couple meetings with Basha (and it probably won’t be the last of that matchup), three-time defending champion Red Mountain sits at No. 2 after losses to Basha and Desert Ridge. There figures to be ample flip-flopping between these two schools for a lot of this season. Horizon and Pinnacle are off to hot starts, while Mountain View won the Dorado Classic and topped Desert Ridge and Pinnacle so far. The Toros will learn more about themselves this month with Red Mountain, Pinnacle (again), Desert Mountain and Desert Ridge on the schedule. Desert Ridge has started strong with wins against Red Mountain, Gilbert, Perry and Corona del Sol (albeit most in tournament play), as has Perry. Centennial and Mountain Ridge are perennially good but the schedule hasn’t revealed much about this season yet, while Gilbert hangs on by virtue of its difficult tournament/early-season schedule despite a .500 record thus far. The Nos. 7-10 spots are a crapshoot at this early juncture of the season, so don’t be surprised to see lots of shakeup through at least half of the rankings.  Next in line is probably Xavier, which is always in the thick of things annually. The Gators outscored five teams a combined 83-6 to win the Sun Blast tournament over the weekend, including a win over Boulder Creek in the championship game. The Gators pounded out 91 hits while the pitchers only allowed 16 hits and struck out a total of 30 batters. Desert Mountain could (and likely will) crack the top 10 at various points as well.

Division II

1. Sunrise Mountain

2. Canyon del Oro

3. Greenway

4. Ironwood Ridge

5. Sahuaro

No surprises at the top with Sunrise Mountain and both CDO and defending-champion Ironwood Ridge in the mix, along with fellow Tucson school Sahuaro. All four are legitimate state title contenders again, and Greenway practically returns its entire lineup/pitching staff from last year’s deep state tournament run. There are several schools waiting in the wings, notably Queen Creek , Paradise Valley, Saguaro and Arcadia, along with both Casa Grande and neighboring Vista Grande. East Valley schools will be heard from, even though the road to a state title probably runs through Tucson schools again.

Division III

1. Winslow

2. Payson

3. Bourgade Catholic

4. Benson

5. Mingus

Bourgade Catholic lost stud pitcher Jackie Aguilar to graduation, but it should be a contender again with most of the lineup returning. Still, that’s a big loss, and allows Winslow to start at No. 1 in Division III, which will probably fluctuate significantly, especially the bottom 2-3 spots as schedules (and competition) fluctuates wildly. Estrella Foothills and Empire are also knocking on the door.

Division IV

1. St. Johns

2. NW Christian

3. AZ Lutheran

4. Valley Christian

5. Tempe Prep

Division IV is pretty deep and not much separates the St. Johns or NW Christians from the Valley Christians or Tempe Prep teams, and there are about 3-4 more teams behind them that could make a move, including defending-champion Pusch Ridge even though it lost nearly its entire roster to graduation. AZ Lutheran already hammered Tempe Prep to start the season, but the Knights have Caroline Libsock back in the middle of the lineup, along with five other starters. Valley Christian could be the most interesting team to watch with eight starters returning from the quarterfinals team of 2012 (nine overall), led by the battery of twin sisters Jenelle and Lenae Hunt and outfielder Stephanie Ware and infielders Hannah Johnson and Lexi Kalfas. The Trojans have pitching and the lineup to make a run at the semifinals.

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