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NCS softball championship game previews

Division I
No. 5 Freedom (19-5-1) vs. No. 3 James Logan (25-1), Saturday, 2 p.m., Saint Mary’s College
Pitchers RaeAnn Garza and Madison Williams dueled as freshmen in the 2010 section title game and will do so again as seniors. Garza’s Logan squad earned a 4-3 walk-off win that year, and has gone back to the championship game every season since. Freedom is making its first title game appearance in three years, taking down No. 4 Castro Valley in the quarterfinals and No. 8 San Ramon Valley in the semifinals. The Falcons, riding a 12-game winning streak, got homers from Emma Ryan and Raegan Ternes in the semifinal win over the Wolves. Lyvie Ilayan has been Freedom’s top hitter this season, batting .403 with 30 RBIs. Logan’s has several offensive weapons, including Garza, Kimberly Goulart and Melina Rodriguez.
Division II
No. 4 Concord (21-4) vs. No. 3 Clayton Valley (22-3), Friday, 5 p.m., Saint Mary’s College
The Division II championship game will serve as the rubber match for these crosstown rivals after splitting their two Diablo Valley Athletic League games and sharing the league crown. Concord, which has won two of the last three Division II crowns, finally gets to play a championship game in the East Bay. Once again, coach Megan Coddington has Concord playing well at the end of the year, winning 17 of their past 18 games after a slow start. The Minutemen took down top-seeded Petaluma 1-0 in the semifinals, getting a strong outing from pitcher Kelly Drake. Clayton Valley, which has never won an NCS softball championship, is led by a large, experienced senior class. Shannon Mestas is good in the circle and at the plate. In the Eagles’ 10-5 semifinal win over Alhambra, the senior blasted two home runs.
Division III
No. 1 Terra Linda (23-4) vs. No. 7 Campolindo (14-9), Saturday, 7 p.m., San Marin HS
Campolindo has put together a Cinderella run to reach the Division III title game, including an extra inning road win over No. 3 Eureka in the semifinals. Shelley Suhling made the long bus ride home a happy one with her solo home run in the eighth inning, accounting for the winning run in the 3-2 victory. Suhling has also put together some impressive pitching performances in the postseason, including a shutout victory over No. 2 San Marin in the quarterfinals. Campolindo finished the regular season in third place in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League. Terra Linda won the Marin County Athletic League and has won 14 of its last 15. Terra Linda has a powerful offense, led by Alyssa Ross and her 15 home runs. The senior has driven in 52. Terra Linda has never won a NCS softball title, and Campolindo’s most recent championship came back in 2002.

Division IV
No. 1 Salesian (20-2) vs. No. 6 St. Patrick-St. Vincent (19-10-2), Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Saint Mary’s College
Salesian hopes to wrap up a dominant season with its first NCS title since 2001. For the second straight year, the Pride will meet St. Patrick-St. Vincent in the title game. The Bruins won 7-2 last year. As Tri-County Athletic League Rock Division rivals, the two teams are plenty familiar with one another. Salesian has won all three meetings this year, but all have them have been close, including two one-run games. SPSV knows it will have to contend with Zoe Conley, Salesian’s standout pitcher. The junior has only allowed one run in two playoff wins and has an ERA of 0.34. Meghan Bradbury is the Pride’s most dangerous hitter.

Stephanie Hammon