If you're looking for a favorite in this weekend's 4A state softball tournament, there are plenty to choose from.
In some respects, I miss the days when the 4A and 3A state softball tournaments were both at S.E.R.A. in Tacoma. Although I had to choose which one to cover game-wise (and we’d have a freelance reporter cover the other), I could catch at least a little of the action in both and keep tabs on the local teams.
Mind you, I love the facility at the R.A.C. in Lacey, site of the 3A tournament and where I will again be this Friday and Saturday. And I’ve heard the Merkel Sports Complex (home for 4A) is fantastic, too.
By the way, someone mentioned the other day that S.E.R.A. may be getting a turf makeover — could that mean a return to Tacoma for both tourneys at some point? I’ll be asking around.
Today I want to take a closer look at the 4A and 3A brackets, which I posted yesterday. First up: 4A.
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I used to be more plugged in state-wide when I compiled rankings, which became too much of a time commitment a couple of years ago. So, I admit I hadn’t realized what a great season Moses Lake is having at 20-1. That’s Tahoma’s first-round opponent Friday.
The Chiefs’ only loss was 10-9 to West Valley of Yakima, which they then beat twice. Most of their games were in the Big Nine, although they did beat University of Spokane (solid season with 18 wins, but fell short in Eastern Regional) and Bellarmine Prep (qualified for WCD, but went 0-2).
Tahoma (22-3) has top-four hopes, but it won’t be an easy road. If the Bears get past Moses Lake, they’d face the winner of the Walla Walla-Snohomish game. Walla Walla (18-5), which lost last year’s title game to Puyallup, has been on a roll and won that Eastern Regional, while Snohomish (19-3) survived the brutal Northwest District tourney as the No. 2 seed (after winning the regular-season WesCo title).
Also in that upper half of the bracket is Bethel, which placed fourth at state last year and has come on strong after an up-and-down regular season. The Braves (16-8) reached the WCD title game before losing to Olympia (25-1) and open the tourney against a Redmond team that seems to be playing its best softball at the right time. And Camas (18-3, I think) is a potential semifinalist as well.
The bottom half of the bracket is loaded, too. I honestly think the tournament is pretty wide open with several teams capable of winning it all. One of those is Woodinville (21-1) and another is Beamer of Federal Way (22-3). And that might be the toughest first-round match-up in 4A!
The winner of that could well get once-beaten Olympia, which opens against surprising Eisenhower of Yakima (13-11), which finished fourth in the Big Nine in the regular season, then upset second-place West Valley for a state berth.
The bottom half also includes Jackson (19-5), the Northwest District champ (as noted, no easy feat!), and Richland (21-3), the No. 2 seed out of that brutal Eastern Regional behind Walla Walla and the third-place finisher at state last season.
So, I think I’ve mentioned all but three teams (Gig Harbor, Battle Ground, Yelm), so watch one of them pull an upset or two!
It should be fantastic tournament and I’ll be anxious to hear all about it!
I will follow with some thoughts on the 3A tourney.