Division II girls softball teams will be looking for some morning glory when the state tournament begins on Saturday (May 3) with eight games beginning at 10 a.m.
The top eight teams in Arizona Interscholastic Association power points have received byes and will begin play on Tuesday (May 6).
The top eight teams are No. 1 Buckeye Verrado, No. 2 Vail Cienega, No. 3 Yuma Kofa, No. 4 Tucson Canyon del Oro, No. 5 Tucson Ironwood Ridge, No. 6 Tucson Sahuaro, No. 7 Glendale Cactus and No. 8 Glendale Raymond S. Kellis.
Here is a look at Saturday’s first-round games . . .
No. 17 Queen Creek (23-6) at No. 16 Peoria (27-3). Both teams are on a roll. Queen Creek won nine of its last 10, including a victory over rival Higley in the regular-season finale. Peoria is riding a nine-game success streak. The winner hits the road to face Verrado in the next round.
No. 24 Gilbert Campo Verde (19-9) at No. 9 Tucson Sabino (19-7). Campo Verde infielder Paige Hess has been one of the division’s most productive hitters. She is hitting .505 with 48 hits, 42 RBIs and has hit 10 of her team’s 17 homers. Sabino will see if it can bounce back from a 10-0 loss to Cienega in its regular-season finale. The winner travels to face Raymond S. Kellis.
No. 21 Flagstaff (20-12) at No. 12 Tucson (19-9). If Flagstaff is to advance deep into the tournament, long-time coach Rudy Baca’s Eagles will have to do it the hard way. If the team wins Saturday, it will have to return to Tucson on Tuesday to face Ironwood Ridge. Second baseman Jessica Mesa has driven in 32 runs for the Eagles. First baseman-outfielder Haylee Davis has 30 RBIs for Tucson.
No. 20 Casa Grande Vista Grande (16-11) at No. 13 Tucson Sunnyside (14-14). Vista Grande dropped its final two games, to Cienega and Tucson Salpointe Catholic, but has the confidence it can beat Sunnyside after a 4-2 win on April 2. The winner will play next on the road at Canyon del Oro.
No. 19 Goodyear Desert Edge (22-5) at No. 14 Marana (22-7). Desert Edge infielder Jaymee Lawton is having a fantastic season with the bat. She is hitting .633 with 57 hits and 48 RBIs. Of those hits, 29 are for extra bases. Marana features a talented freshman in catcher-third baseman-pitcher Katie Faulk, who has 29 RBIs and seven homers. The winner travels to face Kofa.
No. 22 Yuma Gila Ridge (15-11) at No. 11 Phoenix Greenway (23-8). Gila Ridge has won three in a row, including a sweep of Lake Havasu in a double-header. Greenway has been struggling a bit, having dropped two of its last three. The winner travels to face Sahuaro.
No. 23 Flagstaff Coconino (12-15) at No. 10 Peoria Sunrise Mountain (20-3). It is rare when the defending champion is considered a dark horse, but that is where Sunrise Mountain is. The Mustangs lost quite a few players from their title team, but have re-stocked with solid players. The team won eight of its last nine, all by shutouts. Despite its record, Coconino is capable of playing competitively under coach Kimberly Dennis. Catcher-third baseman Alena Ohumukini has 44 hits, 40 RBIs and seven homers. The winner travels to face Cactus. One of Sunrise’s losses was to Cactus.
No. 18 Tucson Salpointe Catholic (14-9) at No. 13 Bullhead City Mohave (22-10). Infielder Anne Scarangella leads Salpointe with 27 RBIs. Mohave has a balanced offense and has a strong pitcher in Kassie Moore, who is 18-8 with seven shutouts and 227 strikeouts. The winner travels to face Cienega.