NCS Softball Preview: Semifinals

I was going to wait until tomorrow but I figured ya’ll would enjoy a night to debate tomorrow’s games. So, here are the previews for tomorrow’s semifinal softball games.

No. 4 Antioch at No. 1 Freedom:
Well, the question in Oakley tomorrow will be whether or not Antioch can bring its absolute best game. In three meetings with the Falcons this season, it’s clear that Antioch has not played its best game. If they can, and Paris Imholz can keep the Freedom offense contained, it could be a good game. Combine that with the fact that it’s pretty tough to beat a team four times in a year and you really can’t count Antioch out. That said, the Panthers are surely playing the role of underdog as Freedom remains the favorite to win the NCS title.

No. 3 Foothill vs. No. 2 Livermore at Robertson Park: The Cowboys will also be trying for their fourth win of the year against Foothill. Like I’ve said in the past, I think Livermore has the offensive weapons to challenge Freedom. That said, Foothill owns what could potentially be the great equalizer in pitcher Keri Ball. If Ball pitches her best, Foothill has a great chance of getting the win. Livermore is favored, but it should be a classic EBAL contest.

No. 4 Las Lomas at No. 1 Montgomery:
Gotta give the Knights credit for beating a tough Clayton Valley squad with a late rally. Montgomery needed 11 innings to beat Redwood and only beat Arroyo by a run, so it could be ripe for an upset. The offense really produced for Lomas in the win on Saturday and if the Knights can be that productive again, I smell an upset. Montgomery will go off as the favorite but don’t be surprised if Las Lomas comes up big yet again.

No. 7 Concord vs. No. 3 Pinole Valley at Ellerhorst Elementary School: If you want to know where you’ll find me tomorrow, here’s where I’ll be. I’m really looking forward to it too because I think these are two incredibly even teams. On one side you’ve got Concord, which has gotten great pitching from Brianna Elder this postseason and continues to get good production from its offense. On the other side you’ve got a Pinole Valley team with the one-two punch of pitcher Veronica Kersten and catcher Nicole Kuykendall. Toss in seasoned players like SS Claire Scott and 1B Kelsey Leintz (who had a huge game against Alameda on Saturday) and Pinole is a very good team. This is a pick ’em for me. Whoever can score the first run may be going home with a win.

No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd at No. 4 Del Norte:
Man oh man. What a road trip for the No. 1 seeded Dragons. Since Del Norte won the HDNL Big 5 title, it gets to host. Can BOD go north and get the win? My first instinct says yes. It also says that a title game between BOD and Albany would be one heckuva contest.

No. 6 San Marin at No. 2 Albany: San Marin is clearly one of the hotter squads around, with convincing wins over Kennedy and Acalanes so far this postseason. Then again, it’s awfully tough to beat Albany at Memorial Field (ask St. Patrick-St. Vincent) and the Cougars always get a good home crowd and create a good playoff atmosphere. I’m betting Maddie Cousens gets a big hit, Sara Muse pitches well, and the Cougars earn the right to play for their second straight NCS title.

No. 5 Justin-Siena at No. 1 St. Patrick-St. VIncent:
I’ll stay on the SPSV bandwagon for another game. I really just can’t see anyone in this division beating such a talented team. I’m pegging the Bruins for a spot in Saturday’s title game.

No. 6 Clear Lake at No. 2 Moreau Catholic: Remember when I said Cloverdale was going to give Moreau a fight? Goes to show what I know. The Mariners had no trouble, winning 14-3 in five innings. Such a dominant win tells me to install them as the favorites in this one. Then again, I really don’t know much about Clear Lake and it gets to host. Still though, Mariners are favored.

Alrighty, there you have it. Only two rounds left. I do have a bit of news to pass on. You’ll read this in your paper tomorrow, but I traded emails with NCS assistant commissioner Bri Niemi today and she told me the scenarios for championship site selections. Basically, if the seeds hold (meaning all the No. 1 seeds win), here’s what Saturday would look like.

Division I would be played at Freedom
Division II would be played at San Marin
Division III would be played at Chabot College
Division IV would be played at St. Patrick-St. Vincent
Division V would be played at San Marin
Division VI would be played at Washington Field in Eureka

Now, if the No. 1 seed in a given division loses, those sites may change. I don’t have game times yet either, but I do know that all six games will be played on Saturday. It’s kind of a bummer for me, because I always used to like covering multiple games in the day. If the start times are staggered, I may still try it, but we’ll have to see how things shake out tomorrow.

So, now you know what I know. I hope to see everyone out at a game tomorrow and I’ll be right back here on Friday for a pre-championship preview. Have fun tomorrow everyone!

Ben Enos