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Five Thoughts on Area Softball Regionals

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By Brad Hallier

 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Maybe one of these years, Haven won’t be doomed due to geography.

It doesn’t seem to matter the sport. Haven could start a tiddlywinks team, be ranked in the top 10, and

still manage to have two or three or four other schools also in the top 10 in Haven’s region.

This is where we start the area softball preview, along with four other thoughts.

Bruh … Is Haven’s regional for real?

Haven had another strong softball season. The program that coach Darin Ashworth has built is nothing short of remarkable.

Haven enters the Class 3A Cheney regional as the No. 1 seed. The Wildcats are slated to host two first-round games and a semifinal on Monday, while Cheney will host the lower half of the bracket, as well as Tuesday’s championship game.

Haven is 19-1, and you’d think the Wildcats would be the overwhelming favorite. Or at least a solid favorite. Or even a moderate favorite. Or even a marginal favorite. But then, you look at who else is in the regional. Wichita Trinity is the No. 2 seed. Cheney is No. 3. Both teams are 18-2. That means the top three seeds are a collective 55-5. Even No. 4 seed Kingman/Norwich is 16-4. Only the Scott City regional has the top three seeds combining for at least 50 wins (exactly 50).

Basketball. Baseball. Softball. It doesn’t seem to matter. Haven is always locked in a tough region. But Haven is well-tested and has the talent to navigate this minefield. With junior “Sluggin” Sadie Estill leading a powerful lineup, and super freshman Avery Brawner anchoring a deep pitching staff, Haven has the tools to go to state. Problem is, so does Wichita Trinity, Cheney and Kingman.

Salthawks get big sweep to nudge way into postseason

Hutchinson High needed a season-ending sweep of Salina Central just to get into the postseason. In Class 5A, only the top 16 teams in both halves of the state make it regionals, and the bottom two teams are left out. Even a split with Central would have left Hutchinson most likely 17th.

Instead, the Salthawks beat the Mustangs 24-14 and 12-4, moving to 15th. That’s a credit to coach Clayton Evans for getting his team never to give up.

Hutch got a tough draw, as the Salthawks will travel Wednesday to Valley Center to take on No. 2 seed and 18-2 Valley Center. But it sure is better than sitting at home.

McPherson earns top seed and is tested

Many McPherson teams aren’t afraid of scheduling tough non-conference opponents. This year, the Bullpups softball team took on the likes of Derby, Liberal, Manhattan and Maize. Yes, Derby and Manhattan beat McPherson. But those losses, along with one to perennial power Andale/Garden Plain, didn’t hurt McPherson’s seeding, as the Bullpups are 17-3 and the top seed in Class 4A West.

The path to Salina doesn’t appear to be overwhelming, with 5-15 Winfield up first on Tuesday. Before that game, 10-9 Larned/LaCrosse plays 10-10 Abilene.

McPherson should like its chances to be among the final eight teams in Salina.

Canton-Galva favored?

The Class 2-1A Moundridge regional is balanced, as Sedgwick earned the top seed with a 14-6 record. Moundridge isn’t far behind as the four seed, at 12-7.

Canton-Galva is the three seed at 13-6 and might be the favorite. Looking at the Eagles’ record against the other top-four seeds, and it’s easy to make that conclusion.

Canton-Galva swept Sedgwick 17-4 and 19-9, swept two seed Remington 8-6 and 15-2, and split with Moundridge. Canton-Galva also swept fifth-seed Trinity Catholic and sixth-seed Sterling.

Can Hoisington/Central Plains find a way past Southeast of Saline?

Southeast of Saline is a heavy favorite to win the Class 3A Lyons regional. At 18-2, with the only losses being to strong teams from Beloit and Clay Center, Southeast of Saline is strong.

Hoisington/Central Plains isn’t too shabby though. The No. 2 seed at 15-4, the Cardinals’ only losses are likewise to strong opposition, including Pratt twice and Haven twice.

It’ll be a tough climb, but the Cardinals have been tested.

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