Pick of the Preps: As spring sports season winds down, baseball and softball take center stage

2014-05-12T00:00:00Z 2014-05-12T22:44:53Z Pick of the Preps: As spring sports season winds down, baseball and softball take center stageBy Daniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Eleven total Southern Arizona baseball and softball teams will continue their quests for state titles this week.

And they’ll pretty much have the stage all to themselves.

Tennis and track and field came to an end Saturday, with Catalina Foothills totaling three team titles in the two sports.

Meanwhile, no local boys volleyball teams advanced to the state quarterfinals, as every Southern Arizona team lost in either the first or second round.

The only other item on the schedule this week is the spring golf championships on Friday and Saturday in Prescott.

As this high school sports season — and the 2013-14 year overall — nears its end, here’s a look at what to watch for in the last full week of action until the fall:

Today

Softball: Ironwood Ridge and Marana will both try to pull within one win of the Division II state finals at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.

The No. 5 Nighthawks, last year’s state runner-up, will be looking for their sixth straight win when they take on top-seeded Buckeye Verrado at 6:30 p.m. in their first game since beating Canyon del Oro 17-0 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, 14th-seeded Marana will play No. 7 Glendale Cactus at the same time.

A win there would give the Tigers two chances to make their first championship-game appearance since 1982.

Tuesday

Baseball: Fourth-seeded Nogales will try to bounce back from having its eight-game winning streak snapped last week when it takes on No. 11 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows at 6:30 p.m. at Maryvale Baseball Stadium.

The Apaches (25-6) dropped to the losers’ bracket on Thursday with a 9-1 loss against top-seeded Phoenix Greenway.

Softball: Canyon del Oro bounced back nicely after last-week’s blowout loss to rival Ironwood Ridge in the double-elimination quarterfinals, and will play the loser of the Marana-Glendale Cactus game in a win-or-go-home matchup on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford.

Thursday

Baseball: Aside from putting Sahuaro one victory away from a trip to the state finals, Friday’s win gave the second-seeded Cougars what they needed most — an extended break.

Sahuaro (25-4) earned six days of rest by beating No. 3 Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain 8-7 in nine innings last week, and will have two chances to reach the Division II championship game, starting on Thursday night when it battles No. 1 Phoenix Greenway at Maryvale Baseball Stadium.

The Cougars will have left-handed ace Alex Verdugo on the mound in his first outing since he pitched in a 5⅓-inning win against Scottsdale Saguaro last Tuesday.

Through three playoff games, Verdugo is batting .727 with three doubles, two RBIs and seven runs scored.

Friday

Baseball: Pusch Ridge Christian is one win from being in the state finals for the first time since 2009, when it won the 2A title over San Manuel.

Coincidentally, the second-seeded Lions will have to beat that same team in order to get back to the championship.

Pusch Ridge will play No. 3 San Manuel in the Division IV semifinals on Friday at Goodyear Ballpark.

When the two met in the regular season, Pusch Ridge senior pitcher Jacob Frithsen gave up four hits and struck out seven batters in six innings to help the Lions to an 8-2 win.

Softball: Before last spring, San Manuel hadn’t been in a state championship game since 1994. Now the second-seeded Miners are one victory from getting there for the second straight year.

The defending Division IV state champions will play No. 3 Phoenix Veritas in the state semifinals on Friday at Rose Mofford, hoping to win for the 24th time in their last 25 games.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at dgaona@azstarnet.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

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