The Desert Visa softball team was having an easy time with Mesa on Monday after a 12-run first inning on the way to a 20-0 five-inning win.
It was all too familiar to Chris Crowl.
The fact that his Thunder are now on the winning side of such lopsided games as the Division I postseason gets underway on Saturday isn’t lost on Crowl.
“I’ve been there and it’s tough,” he said. “You want the players to learn, get the varsity innings but you don’t want to embarrass them either.”
He knew all about that conundrum when the Thunder had a winning percentage of just .305 (36-82) from 2008 to 2010, but those days seem to be long gone after consecutive 19 win seasons.
“We’ve had a good year, but we can’t be satisfied,” he said. “Everything we’ve done to this point was just getting us ready for the postseason. This is what we were focused on being ready for.”
The Thunder made the postseason for the second straight year. Although the brackets came out after deadline Desert Vista was expected to bee seeded around No. 20 with a 13-5 record in power rankings games. They will have to play Saturday’s first round game on the road at 1 p.m.
Mountain Pointe (11-7) should be in the 24-team field, but put it in jepopardy by losing to Westwood on Wednesday night. The Pride entered the game as the No. 22 seed but should make it in and open on the road as well Saturday afternoon.
Getting to this point, while many of the Mountain Pointe core players are still young, would be vital for the growth of the program.
“Making the postseason is always the goal, for any team that plays softball, you set out with the mindset of making and advancing through the playoffs,” Bradford said. “The extra practice time helps each player develop and being in the playoffs creates the environment of success within the program. It makes the hard work, both off season and in season, worth it to those who need a little extra motivation.”
The first two rounds are single elimination so if either team is going to make an extended run an upset they are going to need to pull off an upset or two.
“Last year’s experience (of going 1-1) will help because they know what to expect,” Crowl said. “It was a big step last year, but now we want and expect more.”
It starts with the leadership of junior Michaela Duarte (.376, 25 RBIs), senior Madison Bailey (.363, 21 RBI) along with catcher Ali Cerminara (.414, 17 RBIs). The arm of Dani Block (15-6, 1.25 ERA) is always vital to the team’s success as well.
“This is a group of winners,” Crowl said. “Regardless of how far we go this group has brought this program back to respectability. We didn’t have a chance of making the playoffs most of the years (before the last two) and now it has become the expectation.”
Mountain Pointe has youth throughout its lineup with sophomore Corina Goings, junior Grace Scherrer, sophomore Kristen McCann and sophomore Hannah Hoban continuing to grow and some of them are no longer worried about stepping on the toes of seniors when it comes to running the dugout.
“Clearly we are building, and with that building I have seen players take on the role of leadership, who weren’t necessarily taking on that role in the beginning of the season because they deferred to the seniors, but now they see the need and have the desire to take on that responsibility,” Bradford said. “Our growing leadership has been the nicest improvement and I have been pleased with our progress throughout the season from beginning to now.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.