Postseason push starts this week as spring sports wrap up - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Postseason push starts this week as spring sports wrap up

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Posted: Monday, April 16, 2012 6:45 am | Updated: 3:19 pm, Tue May 1, 2012.

The end of the spring sports season is quickly approaching.

The postseason starts this week for tennis and a week later the teams on the diamond start their state tournament.

In other words, now might be a good time to start peaking.

The teams on the fringe need to kick into gear in order to make sure there is a second season, while legitimate state contenders need to be at their best to survive the early rounds.

Mountain Pointe baseball coach Brandon Buck knows a little bit about both.

The Pride made the state semifinals as a 14th seed in 2008 after a late season winning streak brought confidence into the postseason, but also won the state title last year as the No. 2 seed.

It’s all about getting in and then making the most of the opportunity.

Mountain Pointe began the week ranked 30th in the Division I power rankings and need to start playing at a more consistent level if the Pride hopes to crack the 24-team field.

“We control our own destiny,” Buck said. “If we play like we can we should be OK.”

The team won three games this week to make it more of a reality by getting into the top 16 after wins over Casa Grande, Mountain Ridge and Gilbert before at Mesa on Saturday.

Here is a look at how local teams stand as the playoffs quickly approach.

Baseball

The Division I playoffs are going to be fun. Most coaches agree that there is very little separation among the top teams, whereas in years past there was a clear cut favorite or two.

“The state of Arizona has some great baseball,” Buck said. “The top teams have five to seven loses. We have a lot of new talented kids they are starting to understand the hard way that talent alone doesn’t always get it done.”

With Mountain Pointe’s late season surge and the Thunder’s consistency it appears both will make the Division I tournament.

Desert Vista began the week ranked 13th in Division I before losing to Horizon on Wednesday to drop to 23rd as of Friday morning

The schedule gets hectic the rest of the way with five games in 10 days, including three this week, for the Thunder.

Expect the team to keep it light while having complete focus.

“These guys are one of the most fun teams I’ve been around in years,” Thunder coach Stan Luketich said. “They work every day, they come out to work and they are really close. There is a lot to be said for that.

“They trust and care for each other.”

Mountain Pointe plays four times this week — Tuesday through Friday — to finish up its regular season.

Horizon Honors was No. 41 in the rankings as of Friday and will have trouble making up the spots needed to get into the playoffs, which start on May 1 for the Division III.

Softball

The Thunder will be headed to the postseason for the first time since the 2006 season. Desert Vista was sixth in the power rankings through Thursday and put last year’s 7-22 campaign far in the distance.

While Mountain Pointe has made strides, winning more games than last season already, getting into the postseason is a little more tenuous.

The Pride began the week at No. 29 in the rankings before wins over Maricopa and Apache Junction moved them up 10 spots heading into Friday’s game at Desert Vista.

Mountain Pointe has three games this week to try and secure a postseason bid.

The Horizon Honors softball program should feel good about its playoff chances as the Eagles entered Friday’s action No. 24 and barring a complete collapse should be in the field on May 2.

Volleyball

The boys volleyball teams are not playing at the level either program is accustomed to, but should be able to find their way into the state tournament.

The event, which starts May 5, is one tournament compared to two divisions in years past.

Desert Vista is ranked 23rd after losing to Corona, which makes the next two weeks vital as the Thunder play six times over the next 12 days, including twice against Seton Catholic, which is also fighting for one of the last spots.

Mountain Pointe has a harder route, sitting at 31st after losing to Boulder Creek on Thursday, in an attempt to get into the top 24.

The Pride has some tough matches against Salpointe, Desert Vista and Hamilton that would garner big-time power points in the final weeks if they manage to pull of the victory.

Tennis

The individual tournaments for boys and girls tennis start this week, on Friday at Indian School Park in Scottsdale for the boys and Gene Autry Park for the girls, while the team events do not start until April 24 for the boys and April 25 for the girls.

Desert Vista boys, which was 10th as of Thursday, and girls, which was ninth, squads are fully expected to make the postseason, while Mountain Pointe boys and girls probably have too much ground to make up to grab the 16th and final seed.

Track

The Desert Vista program, coming off a good performance last weekend in California, seem primed to remain a top five program in both the boys and girls state meet.

The 16 athletes that attended the Arcadia Invitational in California all performed well and should use it as a positive heading into the final few weeks as teams scale back competitions heading into the state meet May 9, 11 and 12 at Mesa Community College.

“We saw some PRs for most of our kids,” Desert Vista boys coach Chris Hanson said.

The Pride sprinters have been competing against the state’s best all year without backing down and that should continue in the weeks to come with the Tempe City Meet as the last chance meet on the horizon.

Horizon Honors might have trouble matching last year’s feat of finishing in the top 10 in both boys and girls, but will put a competitive team out there behind competitors like April Vidal, Mikaela Martin and Reece Muggeridge.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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