The way to San Jose’s PAL Stadium will be rocky for some high school softball teams, bumpy for others and smooth for just a few.
The Central Coast Section softball tournaments begin today throughout the region. Six county teams are in action, while one waits for an opponent.
Only the fortunate ones will get to participate in the finals, scheduled for May 25 at PAL Stadium. At least one county team has been in a finals in 15 of the past 16 seasons.
The last team to be a finals representative was Santa Catalina, when it won it all in 2012. The Cougars don’t play today, as they were tabbed with the No. 1 seed in Division III and a first-round bye. They will defend their title beginning Saturday.
Their opponent will be either Pacific Grove or Notre Dame of Belmont. That duel will be played today at 4 p.m. in Belmont. Pacific Grove has virtually been in playoff mode since last week. Because they finished in third place in the MTAL, the Breakers had to play Marina on Friday for the automatic berth into the CCS tournament. They won, setting up today’s tilt against the Belmont squad.
Ashley Burnell powered Pacific Grove in the league playoff game, hitting a grand slam. Cierra Pieroni pitched a two-hitter.
Notre Dame of Belmont, meanwhile, finished its regular season with back-to-back losses against Valley Christian.
The Tigers finished 4-8 in the rough West Catholic Athletic League, but they were only three games out of second place.
Among Notre Dame’s standouts is pitcher Lindsey Mifsud. She’s done damage in the circle and in the box. As a hitter, she’s batting .397 with 16 RBIs. In the circle, she has a 2.80 ERA.
The Tigers from Belmont aren’t the only Notre Dame in Division III. There are three, including the Salinas squad that finished 18-9 and grabbed the No. 4 seed in the Division III tournament.
The Spirits take on Menlo of Atherton at home at 4 p.m. today.
Notre Dame has done its best to heal up in order to make a deep tournament run. The squad went 2-1 last year, getting to the semifinals before being stopped by Santa Catalina.
The Spirits face a Menlo squad that was fourth in the West Bay Athletic League’s Foothill Division.
Carmel also got a spot in the Division III tournament, and it will travel to Scotts Valley to face the Falcons for a 4 p.m. contest. It’s a rematch from earlier this season, when the Padres went to Scotts Valley and prevailed 3-1 behind the pitching of Brittany File.
Also in Division III is Monterey Bay League Pacific Division champion Seaside. The Spartans will compete in a CCS tournament game for the first time since 2008 when it duels with Notre Dame of San Jose.
Seaside comes into the tournament with a 17-5 record. San Jose is 12-12, taking second in the Foothill Division with an 8-4 record.
The game was to be held at Soper Park, but it got moved to the Salinas Sports Complex. Seaside is 2-0 this year in games played in Salinas.
The Spartans will be one of two county representatives playing at the Sports Complex. Salinas High will also be there as it makes its run in the Division I tournament.
The Cowboys, the sixth seed in Division I, battle 11th-seeded Los Gatos at 4 p.m. today.
Salinas has had some mammoth offensive games recently, including a five-game stretch where it put up at least 11 runs per contest. Los Gatos has scored 10 runs just once this season.
North Salinas rounds out the local roster of participants. The Vikings play host to Woodside at 4 p.m. today in a first-round contest. The Vikings have faced several league and division champions this season, and Woodside will be the latest. The Wildcats were the undefeated champions of the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division. North Salinas comes in on a two-game winning streak.
The Vikings will try to crack Woodside’s pitching and defense. Woodside has not allowed a run to an opponent this month.