The road won’t be long. But it will be arduous.
The state’s top softball teams find themselves in tough positions when the draw of the state tournaments were revealed Thursday.
The Division I and II tournaments begin Saturday and Division III and IV tournaments begin Tuesday.
Both Mesa Red Mountain, the defending Division I champion which is going for its fourth straight title, and Chandler Basha have been to the state title game four times in the past five years, facing off three times with a championship on the line.
But the two could potentially play each other with their second game of the tournament.
For Basha, its road to the state title game could include Scottsdale Chaparral, Red Mountain, Mesa Desert Ridge and Vail Cienega.
“I think all four of those teams can win it,” Basha coach Scott Hoffmeyer said. “Not that others can’t. But I think all of those teams can win it. A good thing is, nobody scares us. There are some good quality teams, no doubt about it.
“We like our road. We’re in a situation where we can’t underestimate anybody. It’s perfect. We have to beat everybody anyway to win it.”
Basha will rely on its powerful hitters and the arm of ace pitcher Lynea Klemmedson.
“She’s been doing real well,” Hoffmeyer said. “It’s status quo. She just keeps growing. She’s always in bad situations and gets out of it.”
Two other Division I teams that are expected to do well are Scottsdale Horizon and Glendale Mountain Ridge, another pair that could face off in the third round.
Mountain Ridge softball coach Michele Markham said her young team, while talented, doesn’t yet know how good it can be.
“Some of them are very excited and realizing how good they are and they’re not quite sure what that means because we had a lot of success in the past,” she said. “Making it to state is a huge deal. Some of those things, they don’t quite realize. So that points to our favor.”
In Division II, Peoria Sunrise Mountain, last season’s state runner-up, is this season’s favorite. But it could potentially face talented teams like Casa Grande, Goodyear Verrado and Phoenix Paradise Valley in its first three games of the tournament.
Sunrise Mountain coach Jody Pruitt said her team has also played a little “sluggish” the past couple of weeks, but she’s liked how her players have responded this season.
“We have kid who we didn’t expect to do a whole lot this season but have done well,” Pruitt said. “We have great individuals and when you have that and gel well as a team, good things happen.”