The District 2 baseball tournaments opened last week with a couple big upsets. The same could hold true with the District 2 softball tournaments that begin today.
Over the past three years, lower seeds have won 12 of 54 first-round games (22 percent). Six of those victories were by teams separated from their opponents by one seed. No. 9 seeds defeated No. 8 seeds four times and fifth-seeded clubs topped fourth seeds twice.
While those games might not be considered upsets, consider this. Teams seeded fifth or sixth in Class 3A and 2A have lost half the time the past two years to teams seeded 12th or 11th, respectively. And twice in that span, Coughlin came into the D2-3A tournament seeded 11th and knocked off the sixth seed. Interestingly, the Crusaders are seeded 11th once again as they travel to North Pocono today.
Whether Coughlin – or anybody for that matter – can pull off an upset will be determined today. There are seven games in Class 3A, eight in Class 2A and one in Class A.
Here’s a look at the four tournaments.
Outlook: Hazleton Area is the defending District 2 champion, but that title didn’t mean a spot in the state playoffs in 2012. That’s because District 4’s Williamsport has come out of the tournament champion the past two years.
Top-seeded Williamsport (17-2) hasn’t lost since mid-April when it was defeated 3-2 by Conwell-Egan Catholic and 1-0 by Bald Eagle Area. The Millionaires have won 12 via shutout mainly due to the pitching of Alexis Bower. The St. Francis recruit was the Pennsylvania Class 4A player of the year last season.
Second-seeded Hazleton Area (14-1) and sixth-seeded Wyoming Valley West (6-9) are the only WVC teams in the bracket. Hazleton Area has the WVC’s best combination of offense, defense and pitching, with Becky Demko throwing two of the four no-hitters in the WVC this year.
Valley West has struggled offensively, scoring two or less runs six times. They have a tough task today at third-seeded Wallenpaupack (11-2), which is akin to Hazleton Area in its all-around ability. Wallenpaupack pitcher Brittany Guerrieri, though, doesn’t strike out batters on the level of Demko.
Fifth-seeded Delaware Valley (6-7) is at fourth-seeded Scranton (7-6) today. The winner isn’t expected to get past Williamsport on Thursday.
Prediction: Williamsport to defeat Scranton in one semifinal and Hazleton Area to defeat Wallenpaupack in the other. Williamsport to defeat Hazleton Area for the championship and state berth.
Outlook: The WVC’s best hopes are No. 2 Berwick (11-3), No. 4 Tunkhannock (9-5) and No. 5 Wyoming Area (9-5). All three teams match up pretty evenly, although only two have a shot at making it to the semifinals. That’s because if Tunkhannock and Wyoming Area advance through the first round, they meet in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
Berwick should get past No. 15 Western Wayne (0-13) today. Then the Dawgs will face either No. 7 Crestwood (7-8) or No. 10 Dallas (5-9), both of which defeated them during the WVC season.
Crestwood is the dark horse. Pitcher Alyssa Davies is the only WVC hurler to exceed 100 strikeouts. The Comets, though, have sputtered at times on offense, scoring just one run five times and being shutout once.
Dallas is also an intriguing team. The Mountaineers started the season 3-0, but five of their losses have been by one run.
The favorite, though, is three-time defending champion Valley View (13-0). The Cougars have nine girls hitting .300 or better, led by freshman Clare Sebastianelli (.604, 31 RBI). Senior pitcher Gina Chieffallo has struck out 147 in 96 innings, which includes non-league games.
Prediction: Valley View to defeat Tunkhannock in one semifinal and Berwick to defeat Abington Heights in the other. Valley View to defeat Berwick for the title and a trip to states.
Outlook: Top-seeded Holy Redeemer (12-0) and fifth-seeded Nanticoke (11-4) are the WVC’s best chances for a title. Hanover Area (10-2) is seeded higher than Nanticoke at the fourth spot, but the seedings were based on regular-season results. Nanticoke played a much tougher schedule. Still, don’t write off Hanover Area, whose only losses were 8-1 and 6-1 to Redeemer.
Anyway, only one of the three can advance to the title game since they are all in the upper part of the bracket.
Seventh-seeded Northwest (8-4) is in the bottom part of the bracket. The Rangers open with a fairly tough 10th seed in Dunmore (7-5). If they get by the Bucks, they’ll likely face second-seeded Montrose (10-2) and tough lefty thrower Lacy Nealy. Nealy possesses a nasty dropball, according to one WVC coach.
Prediction: Nanticoke to defeat Redeemer in one semifinal and Holy Cross to defeat Montrose in the other. Nanticoke to defeat Holy Cross for the title and a spot in the state playoffs.
Northwest won the title last year, breaking the Lackawanna League’s stranglehold on the classification. The main reason is the WVC isn’t well represented here and that’s the case again, with only MMI Prep (3-9) in the six-team tournament.
The fifth-seeded Preppers were the lowest scoring team in WVC Division 3 where the pitching doesn’t have the same reputation as in the other two divisions. They’ve struggled against better teams, but today’s game at No. 4 Blue Ridge (3-9) might be a close one.
Prediction: Lackawanna Trail to defeat Blue Ridge in one semifinal and Old Forge to top Susquehanna in the other. Trail to defeat Old Forge for the championship and a place in the state tournament.