Softball sections set to go

The North High School fastpitch softball team has been to only one state tournament over the past four seasons. Based on the Polars’ history, that might be considered a bit of a drought.

North is looking to add another state-tournament appearance and gets to work on that this week. The Polars have to be considered a favorite in Section 4AAAA.

The Polars have yet to lose in the month of May and are riding a seven-game winning streak into the post-season. They are also bringing with them a conference championship, something no other team in the section can claim.

North won the Metro East Conference title outright after sharing the crown with Hastings last season. The Polars and Hastings split their season series and appeared headed to another co-championship until the Raiders were upset by Hill-Murray on May 18.

Besides Hastings, North’s only other losses this season came against Lakeville South and Woodbury in the championship finals of weekend tournaments. The loss to Woodbury might have cost the Polars the No. 1 seed in the section tournament. The pairings for the Section 4AAAA playoffs were not available at press time for this edition of the Review.

Not only has North not lost yet in May, it hasn’t given up more than one run in a game since April ended. The Polars gave up single runs in six of their May games and also recorded one shutout.

Woodbury enters the tournament as the defending champion and certainly can’t be taken lightly. The Royals beat North 11-9 in the Lakeville North tournament on April 30 but not much can be gleaned from that meeting considering neither team is likely to give up that many runs during their entire playoff run. Both teams may have been holding back a little in that game.

In addition to North and Woodbury, four other Section 4AAAA teams ended the regular season with records of .500 or better. Stillwater, Tartan, Cretin-Derham Hall and Hill-Murray are all teams capable of pulling off upsets and making deep runs in the post-season.

Tartan finished third in the Metro East Conference standings and the Titans’ four league losses this season were to the top two teams in the conference. Since a 6-2 loss to Hastings on April 29, Tartan is 7-2.

Hill-Murray wrapped up its regular season with a 10-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the Metro East. The Pioneers’ 3-1 win over Hastings last week was probably their most impressive of the spring. 

Even Roseville can’t be overlooked. Following a slow start, the Raiders have come on strong in May and even own a victory over top-ranked Park-Cottage Grove.

White Bear Lake, with only three victories, is likely to be the lowest seed.

The Section 4AAAA playoffs, which take place at the McKnight complex in North St. Paul, run May 24, 25 and 27 this week and May 31 and June 2 next week. The champion advances to the state tournament on June 9-10 at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

Eastview is the defending big school state champion and moves up into Class AAAA with the expansion of softball to four classes this season.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

 

 

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