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

Divisions I and II softball state tournament outlooks

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Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:15 am

Outlooks for the Divisions I and II softball state tournaments:

Division I

When: April 27 through May 13

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; May 1 through 10 at Rose Mofford Softball Complex (9833 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix); Championship game at Farrington Stadium (Arizona State)

Format: 24 teams (based on power rankings), top 8 seeds receive first-round bye; First two rounds are single elimination; third round through semifinals are double elimination; single-game championship

Outlook: Red Mountain may be the three-time defending champion, and Basha may have won two titles and been runner-up twice in the past five years, but this tournament’s pecking order of contenders could be as deep as any in years. Both the Lions and Bears could be on another championship game collision course the way they’ve played for most of the regular season, but the competition is fierce. Mountain Ridge was a semifinal team last year and is en route to making it there again (if not more). So is Horizon. So is Mountain View, with ace and Arizaona’s strikeout leader in Val Kaff. So is Gilbert with its defense and run production in the middle of the lineup. Xavier and Desert Mountain are capable of making deep runs if each’s respective pitching holds up in front of youthful defenses. Perry’s pitching and hitting will need some help, but it’s good enough to be in the final four. Despite only having two seniors in the lineup, Desert Ridge has been an upstart in Div. I this season and in the postseason for the first time in three years, having beaten the likes of Gilbert, Red Mountain (twice), Basha and Perry while playing the toughest schedule in Div. I. Chaparral, Corona del Sol and Desert Vista all have good enough pitching to advance, if defense and timely hitting will help those schools the way it’s worked out for the others. All that without Centennial and Cienega (undefeated in power rankings games), both regular contenders from the 5A Division II days, very much in the mix.

Division II

When: April 27 through May 13

Where: First two rounds at higher seed; May 1 through 10 at Rose Mofford Softball Complex (9833 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix); Championship game at Farrington Stadium (Arizona State)

Format: 24 teams (based on power rankings), top 8 seeds receive first-round bye; First two rounds are single elimination; third round through semifinals are double elimination; single-game championship

Outlook: This field is pretty top-heavy, but doesn’t appear to have quite the elite-caliber depth as Division I. Similar to last year, it’s hard not to see Sunrise Mountain and Canyon del Oro slugging it out in the finals, much the way these two perennail powers did last year in a crazy 8-inning championship game won by CDO, 11-9. Sunrise Mountain, especially, has looked unstoppable at times since a 5-2 loss to Div. I-Mountain Ridge in late February. Still, the next notch of teams include Paradise Valley, Greenway, Raymond Kellis, Peoria, Sahuaro, Verrado and Ironwood Ridge. Both the Trojans and Greenway might have an edge in pitching over the others, and a senior-reliant lineup with postseason experience should only help Paradise Valley’s cause with junior Mariah Valencia in the circle. The bottom of the bracket will be muddled, with several teams vying for those final few spots, but watch out for Queen Creek — which didn’t play a particularly difficult schedule in power rankings games but played in top tournaments to face better competition — and, if it sneaks in, Seton Catholic. The Sentinels have followed Queen Creek’s path (unintentionally) in having an easy power rankings schedule but playing Div. I and elite-Div. II schools in tournaments.

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