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NCS Softball Preview: Quarterfinals

So, we’re on to the quarterfinal round this weekend. I won’t be in the office tomorrow, so I figured I’d toss out this weekend’s preview a day early. Enjoy.

DIVISION I
No. 8 Castro Valley at No. 1 Freedom:
You know what? Freedom is the heavy favorite in this one but I’ve seen enough of the Trojans over the past two seasons to know that you really shouldn’t sleep on them. I think Melanie Alkire is a good, good coach and I think she’ll have her team ready to play. So, I would not be surprised if this one’s a little closer than people expect. Then again, Freedom is Freedom. The Falcons are favored big in this one.

No. 5 James Logan at No. 4 Antioch: I’ll be in A-Town for this one and I’m excited about it. First of all, they moved the game time to 2 p.m., which is way better for a Saturday. Second, there should be some serious talent on display. One of the most impressive players I’ve seen so far this season is Antioch C Erin Jones and I think she just might make the difference in this one. Panthers are favored.

No. 10 Newark Memorial vs. No. 2 Livermore at Granada: I really, really like Livermore in these playoffs because I think the Cowboys have the offense to compete with Freedom down the road. Plus, they have a luxury very few teams have – two quality pitchers. If starter Jessica Varady isn’t firing on all cylinders, Sammy McConvey can come in and give quality relief. Plus, coach Bill Keller isn’t afraid to make the switch if he needs to. Cowboys are favored and, if you’re going to this game, get there early because the NCS Tri-Valley track meet is also at Granada.

No. 6 San Ramon Valley at No. 3 Foothill: EBAL rematch alert. SRV handled its business against Berkeley and now it’ll face a Foothill team that should be awfully eager to avenge its loss to the Wolves in their last meeting. Player to watch in this one is the best shortstop you probably haven’t heard of, Foothill’s Jennifer Ong. She’s the table-setter for a very good lineup. Foothill is favored, probably by two runs.

DIVISION II
No. 8 Redwood at No. 1 Montgomery:
I’ve never been to Montgomery High but I have been to Redwood. What a beautiful school. On the field? Well, I wouldn’t peg Montgomery as a slouch considering it got the No. 1 seed in a pretty deep field. So, we’ll favor Monty in this one.

No. 5 Clayton Valley at No. 4 Las Lomas: Here’s really the first game that I’m pretty conflicted over. I really think Clayton has the goods to make a run at the title game but it all comes down to whether or not the Eagles can hit Las Lomas pitcher Hannah Port. The two times I saw her this year, she didn’t give up a hit. Offensively for Las Lomas, if players like Shaley Vandenson and Erin Hong can set the table, look for a big game from cleanup hitter Melissa Brymner. I’m going to favor Clayton a little in this one based on its uber-potent offense.

No. 7 Concord at No. 2 Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park: The Minutemen cheated a sudden exit from the playoffs on Wednesday when they rallied to score two in the bottom of the seventh to beat Heritage 3-2. I picked the Minutemen to win the division crown in Tuesday’s paper, so I guess I’ll stick with ’em here but I will also acknowledge it’s certainly not a mortal lock.

No. 11 Alameda vs. No. 3 Pinole Valley at Ellerhorst Elementary School: If you’re a Pinole Valley supporter, you can’t be happy to see Alameda in the quarters. The Spartans won both meetings in league this year but it’s awfully tough to beat a team three times in a row. Plus, you can’t say Alameda isn’t talented enough to pull the upset. I’ll make PV the favorite but this could be the game where a significant upset is most likely.

DIVISION III
No. 8 Sir Francis Drake vs. No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd at Standley Field:
Rachel Nersesian and the crew are the No. 1 seeds for a reason. The Dragons will be favored heavily in this one, something that tends to accompany such a lofty seed.

No. 5 Alhambra at No. 4 Del Norte-Crescent City: Making this game a noon start did the Bulldogs no favors if they were planning on going up on Saturday. If they’re staying overnight on Friday, it could be a different story. Del Norte has to be the favorite based solely on the mammoth drive that Alhambra has to put in to get there, but a win by the Bulldogs would not surprise me one bit. I still love that frenetic pace that Alhambra plays at on offense.

No. 7 Tamalpais at No. 2 Albany: What’s the number one indicator that we’ve reached the postseason? The mound comes off Memorial Field in Albany! The Cougars can play the no respect card again this year, with a legitimate argument that they could’ve been the No. 1 seeds. Heck, it worked for them last year. This year’s team is a bit different (any team that loses talent like it had last year would be) but it’s equally well-coached and nearly as talented. Plus, I think Sara Muse is getting healthy finally and that’s bad news for the rest of the bracket. Albany is the heavy favorite here.

No. 6 San Marin at No. 3 Acalanes: The Dons got a piece of the DFAL title when Campolindo beat Las Lomas, so they have a bit of momentum coming into the postseason. Hannah Wilbur continues to develop in the circle and Sheyenne Greer has been solid leading the offense this season. I don’t know much about San Marin, except to say that they didn’t appear to have much trouble in beating Kennedy on Wednesday. We’ll call the Dons the favorites here.

DIVISION IV
No. 8 Salesian at No. 1 St. Patrick-St. Vincent:
Let’s do Division IV! SPSV is one of the most impressive teams I’ve seen all year. Their games with Albany were among the best I saw and if you don’t know who Shelby Asbury is, you better go find out because she can flat out hit. The Bruins had little trouble with Salesian this season in the BSAL and I don’t see it happening now.

No. 5 Justin-Siena at No. 4 Healdsburg: Couldn’t tell ya. But hey, Justin-Siena has been known to play bagpipes before its football games. That’s just cool.

No. 7 Cloverdale vs. No. 2 Moreau Catholic at Larry Standley Field: Back when I started as a freelancer, one of the first softball games I covered was a NCS Class A championship between Berean Christian and Cloverdale. BC won that day, but I came away very impressed with Cloverdale. This is not the typical 2 versus 7 game. This could be a dogfight.

No. 3 Berean Christian at No. 6 Clear Lake: Another player you need to know about is Berean SS Danae Leiser. She’s got some serious talent. Even though they have to hit the road, I like the Eagles as the favorites in this one.

Alright, well, that’s where we stand for Saturday. I hope you got out on Wednesday to see some ball. I would imagine that if you’re reading this, you’re planning to catch some action this weekend. I would imagine we’ll try to put scores up on Saturday evening, so be sure to check us out.

Ben Enos