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

  • SoftballBob

    It’s easily to win four in a season. The question is can another team win one? In Antioch & Foothill’s case – best game or not – I don’t think so.

    This scenario arose last seaosn when Freddom beat DV 4 times, and the same question was posed?

    Freedom has only given up 2 runs to one team all season, Mitty. Livermore is more at risk, and has a chance to lose, but this late in the season the edge has to go to hitting, and Livermore and Freedom have plenty of that.

    Prediction: D1 Championship match-up at Freedom, who will be hosting the Cowboys.

  • mckbooth

    I agree with everything except the division 4. Moreau Catholic has been playing over its head for the last month and will take out St Patrick/ St Vincent in the final. They’ve played tougher competition, Castro valley, Arroyo, BOD and been in every game.

  • Fastpitch fan

    Foothill needs to score at least 4 today to have a chance. Otherwise, its Freedom and Livermore on Saturday.

    Livermore is probably one of 3 teams in NorCal that could score 2 or more runs off of Freedom, and it would be great to see that matchup.

    I hear the highest remaining seed will host each championship game, so no D-II and D-I doubleheader. Too bad.

    PLAY BALL!!!

  • mckbooth

    Saw a victory posted on the BOD website, but no score. Can anybody verify ???

  • NCS website has O’Dowd winning 3-1 in 10 innings to advance to the finals against Albany at 1 p.m. Saturday at Chabot.

  • Ben Enos

    For those interested, Pinole beat Concord 4-3 in 8 innings on a squeeze by Veronica Kersten. Montgomery beat Las Lomas 2-0, so PV plays Montgomery on Saturday at 5:30 at San Marin in the Division II final. The Division I final is Livermore-Freedom, and the DIII final is Albany-BOD at 1 at Chabot.

  • Fastpitch fan

    D-I final score: Livermore 6-3 over Foothill, but the bases were loaded with the #4 hitter up when the game ended. Defensive lapses led to most of the runs in this game.

    Heard Freedom was up 6-0 in the 7th, but did not hear the final.

    Livermore will have to step up the defense to have any chance against Freedom.

  • mckbooth

    Wow an Albany BOD rematch. Last year Albany’s only loss was to BOD. That’s going to be a barn burner.

  • Fastpitch fan

    Note on the NCS D-I/D-II brackets: “Semifinals/Finals Home Team determined by flip of the coin.” Yet two NCS finalist get home field advantage. This will lead to an unfair advantage AND lower revenue. Whatever happened to neutral championship venues with more fans and more revenue. So much for “fair play” and filling budget deficits. DOH!!!

  • bruinball

    Yo Mckbooth, don’t underestimate Clearlake. Huge props to BSAL Softball – once again SPSV and Albany will represent in FINALS.

  • sbmom

    NCS really dropped the ball when it came to coming through with a neutral field for the softball finals. they HAD to have known that Cal’s field was under repair for a while now….Note the boys get the Coliseum- girls nothing, not even a neutral site! Very sad.

  • SoftballBob

    The NCS committee really has been making some questionable choices regarding softball. Their decisions for this seasons playoff schedule, wed, sat,wed,sat format, is as bad a decision as not ensuring nuetral sites for these championships. Not having adequate facilities secured to showcase the status of these championship games is just another sign of how the NCS is out-of-touch with their peer sections.

    It’ll get worse next year as softball championship games will begin directly conflicting with scheduled graduation dates for some schools? Next year championships are June 5th, followed the next year by June 6th? What’s the matter July 4th already taken?

  • Ben Enos

    Bruinball, you’re absolutely right about giving props to the BSAL. Those are two of the best teams I’ve seen all year.

    SBMom and SoftballBob, I agree with you 100 percent. As the main softball writer, I feel silly not being able to cover more than one game on championship day. I’ll be out at the Division I game at 1 p.m., which makes it logistically impossible to get to the 5:30 game (and file a somewhat intelligent story) in Novato. So, that’s my two cents on it. I think you’re both spot on.

  • Ben Enos

    Also note that the start time at San Marin has now been changed. The Division II game is now scheduled for 4:30 p.m., per the NCS web site. Hope nobody was trying to pull the double.

  • mckbooth

    Yo Bruinball, you know my module. ” That’s why they play the game.” Good stuff this week it ought to be all good.

  • mckbooth

    NCS couldn’t get Stanford? They are not playing anymore. There has got to be a venue that would gladly house the finals and make it special for the Bay Area.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    The NCS wouldn’t put a championship event at a location not within the section. Having it at Stanford would be a great venue, but it’d be doubtful any casual fan would trip over there.

  • mckbooth

    I don’t know, seems like a good place for the colleges to recruit from. Just a Northern Cal venue, I do believe that there are a couple of players from the section that are on the team HMMMMM.