Post Season Play Begins For Real
The 6A tourney is arguably the most wide open its been in years. Every team has strengths. Every team has holes.
#1 seed Mountain View gets a match up with Millennium, a team that rolled through a weak region 9-1 and that has won 12 of 13. They defeated a Pinnacle team in the play in game that, quite frankly, was an absolute mess at the end of the year, losing 6 of its last 7. So the bottom line is , we don’t really know what we have here with Millennium. They certainly look capable of pulling off the upset, but they will have to play their best ball to defeat a fundamentally sound MVT team that has won 9 of its last 10.
#12 Perry will travel to Mountain Ridge. If they see Matthew Liberatore, they obviously have a problem. Left handed hitters have virtually no shot against Libby’s curveball and slider.
#9 Desert Mountain travels to #8 Hamilton in a very intriguing game. Hamilton has had a tough year physically, losing 3 of their starting 4 infielders in the first week of the season But we all know the depth of talent in the Husky program, and guys have stepped up admirably. DM struggled against the better teams in their region, but have won 4 of their last 5.
#13 Mountain Pointe and # 4 Red Mountain get it on at Hohokam Stadium tomorrow. The Pride are a different team since Ethan Long became eligible. He brings a lot of thump to that line up and has thrown well on the mound. If we get a Kai Murphy/ Long match up on the hill it will be tasty. Red Mountain has as much talent as anyone in the tourney, but they are an emotional bunch. Managing that emotion during the pressure packed post season will be key.
#2 Corona del Sol host # 15 Westwood. The Aztecs rolled through region play 10-0 and have won 12 straight. They are very young, starting only one senior, but its been incredible watching these guys grow over the last year. Junior 3B Brian Kalmer has had one of the best years of any player in the state. Soph SS Hunter Haas is hitting .479 and has been solid defensively. The Aztecs are solid on the mound with Danny Sotelo, Matt Novis and sophomore Bryan Webb. Webb is a witch on the mound with a .43 ERA in 32 innings. The staff ERA is 1.84. Westwood will have to bounce back from an emotional win at San Luis, a suspended game that had to be completed Thursday morning.
#10 Desert Vista travels to #7 O’Connor in a rematch of a February 21 game that the Thunder won 7-4. DV has been a good story this season, and if the pitching holds up, they could be a factor. Eli Ankney and Brandon Childers have both been solid as starters. They will face a talented O’Connor team that has speed and power in the lineup.
#6 Chandler High will host #11 Skyline. This is perhaps the best Chandler team I’ve seen in years. There’s a good blend of experience and youth. Senior SS Will Long is hitting .464 and junior OF Javan is hitting .462 with 12 doubles and 3 bombs. They are hitting .357 as a team. The Wolves have good pitching depth. Six players have thrown 18 or more innings. Skyline used their ace Cole Yocum in the Wednesday play in win over Desert Ridge. Chandler won the only matchup of the season 12-6 on March 6.
#3 Basha will host # 14 Brophy, and the Bears will hope to avoid their tournament collapses of recent years., where they have won their first game and dropped the next 2 in 2016 and 2017. Basha can swing it, and the pitching has held up pretty well despite the loss of ace Michael Perzan. Brophy is an improved team from a year ago , but they’ve been brutally streaky.
It certainly looks like the road to the 5A title will go though Mesquite (Jeff Holland will love that comment).
There’s a couple of potential matchups down the road that could be interesting if it plays out like I think.
Liberty, with Chandler Murphy or Isaiah Montoya on the bump, could pose problems. Notre Dame is athletic and has 4 starters hitting above .400 (Tyler Cranston at .500).
Verrado might pose the most significant threat to Mesquite. The Vipers have rattled off 15 wins in a row, but they haven’t been tested against top competition. They have a dangerous lineup (.364 as a team) . Sophomore Colton Keith is hitting .537 with 14 doubles and 7 homers. On the mound Breckyn Montano ahs a 1.81 ERA in 31 innings. Kyle Wellman has thrown a team leading 46 innings with a 2.25 ERA.
In 4A I see the 2 top teams as #1 Nogales and #5 Sunrise Mountain. They are on the same side of the bracket and could potentially meet in round 3.
# 2 Catalina Foothills is on the opposite side of the bracket, and they get a first round match up against a dangerous Saguaro club.
You can’t count out #4 Canyon del Oro. They are always a threat in the tournament, well coached with a great legacy.
# 8 Salpointe Catholic is another club that has been here before and has had great success in the postseason.
I’ve talked about #3 Seton Catholic earlier this spring. There’s a lot of talent on this team, but very little experience at this level of postseason play.
The disparity in the quality of teams in 4A makes it very difficult to judge matchups. Sunrise Mountain, in particular, has not been challenged in weeks. They have scored double digit runs in 6 of their last 7 games. They have scored over 10 runs in a game 14 times this season. The pitching staff has thrown 9 shutouts, and allowed only one run 7 times. They have won 14 games in a row. But now it starts for real, and the Mustangs will have to gear up their game for the competition to make a run for the title.