The week in preps: Softball playoff pressure takes its toll

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 25, 2014 - 11:47 PM

As Mankato West’s softball team discovered, regular-season success doesn’t always hold up.

The argument both for and against playoffs of any sort is rooted in timing: Does it determine which is the best team or which is the best team right now? Sustained excellence often isn’t enough when facing a team peaking at the right time. Earning the No. 1 seed in a section can be a nod to a great regular season and a burden in the playoffs.

Take, for example, the Class 3A, Section 2 softball playoffs.

Mankato West earned the top seed by virtue of a nearly perfect season, losing only once (to crosstown rival Mankato East) by a single run.

But the fickle fastball of fate blew past the Scarlets in two section playoff games last week. After an opening-round bye, they lost to No. 8 seed Shakopee 1-0 in their first game and lost again, by the same score, to No. 4 seed Minnetonka in the loser’s bracket. Just like that, a season with so much promise went poof.

So, who is still alive? In Tuesday’s winners’ bracket final, Shakopee, on a roll after following up with a victory over Prior Lake, plays No. 6 seed New Prague, which started the season 1-4 but has reeled off 12 consecutive victories and has not allowed a run in three postseason games.

New Prague will have to go through either Chanhassen or Prior Lake, both of whom have been seeded higher, in the losers’ bracket to get a second chance at the championship game.

So much for a meaningful regular season, huh?

All Section 2, 3A games are at Miller Park in Eden Prairie, with the winners’ bracket and losers’ bracket games set for 5 p.m. Tuesday and the championship at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Here’s a quick look a few other key postseason matchups this week:

 

SOFTBALL

Class 3A

• Section 3 winners’ bracket final: Undefeated Lakeville North vs. Bloomington Jefferson, 5 p.m. Tuesday at Richfield Middle School.

• Section 6 championship: No. 1 seed Orono vs. either Hopkins or Edina, 5 p.m. Tuesday, at Pamela Park (Edina).

• Section 7 winners’ bracket final: Defending state champion Elk River vs. No. 1 seed Anoka, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chisago Lakes.

Class 2A

• Section 4 championship: St. Anthony vs. Visitation, 5 p.m. Tuesday at Hamline.

Class 1A

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