The Maricopa High School baseball and softball teams returned to the diamond Thursday with more than winning on their minds. The teams have both struggled of late and with only one section win apiece, their playoff hopes are quickly fading.
The Division II playoffs begin May 3 with the top team in each of the seven sections receiving an automatic bid. The bracket’s remaining 17 at-large bids will be given to the teams with the best overall ranking.
Division II in baseball has a total of 77 teams with seven sections of 11 teams each. The Rams (7-13, 1-7) are currently in 10th place in the section with five games remaining. Winning out against the remaining teams will provide great morale moving into the future but the state playoffs are out of reach for Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad.
The Rams lost a heartbreaking 7-6 game to South Mountain in Phoenix Thursday and are back home for their final home stretch. Maricopa faces section foe, Canyon del Oro from Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. The Dorados (15-5, 4-2 section VI) are currently in third place in section VI and 17th in Division II overall.
The final two home games will be held on Thursday and Friday hosting Ironwood Ridge (13-11, 4-4 section VI) from Tucson at 3:45 p.m. and Division III’s Valley Christian High (10-8, 5-2 section IV), under the Friday night lights at 7 p.m.
Division II in softball has 73 teams and section VI includes 17 teams. The Rams (11-11, 1-5 section VI) need to win the final five games of the season to move into discussions about receiving an at-large bid.
Coach Chris Ansley’s team is currently ranked at No. 30 overall in Division II and wins over three of the section’s top five teams will go a long way to convince the selection committee.
The final road top of the season sees the Rams travel to Tucson twice in the coming week. On Tuesday, it visits Canyon del Oro (17-6, 6-0 section VI) and Ironwood Ridge (20-7, 7-1 section VI) on Thursday. First pitch for both games will be 4 p.m.
Canyon del Oro has won 10 straight games and Ironwood Ridge is undefeated at home. Next week’s games are more than important – they are a necessity.
The regular season for the Rams ends at home with games April 28 and April 30. Cibola (12-8, 7-2 section VI) visits on April 28 at 4 p.m. and is in the same boat as Maricopa. It is on the fringes of the playoffs needing big wins to finish the season. Poston Butte (2-22, 1-5 section VI) from San Tan Valley is just hoping to be competitive in the 6 p.m. game on April 30.