COMMENTARY — I’ve been covering Region 9 baseball a very long time (this is where my kids like to make a joke about how old I am, so feel free) and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the region playoff race shaping up like it is this season.
Desert Hills (7-1 in region) has all but locked up the region title (barring an unlikely collapse) and Canyon View (6-4), with just Hurricane and a bye week left seems to be in pretty good shape as far as getting into the playoffs, probably as the No. 2 seed.
But then look at the rest of the teams in a fight for those two playoff spots. Snow Canyon (5-5), Dixie (4-4), Cedar (4-4) and Pine View (4-4) all have .500 records and have nearly equal shots at getting into the playoffs. At least it seems that way. Upon closer examination, here’s our evaluation of which teams have the easier paths to getting into the playoffs. Above .500 should get a team in, below .500 should make a team miss out on the postseason. Remember, these scenarios could change after just one game. It may be a whole different picture after tonight.
Cedar (4-4 in region, four games left: Dixie this week and Hurricane next week) — The Redmen might have an inside track to the playoffs in that they have already played first-place D-Haills (lost twice) and second-place Canyon View (won twice). Cedar’s goal is likely a split with Dixie and a sweep of Hurricane, which would leave them at 7-5 in region, probably good enough to get into the playoffs as a three or four seed.
Dixie (4-4 in region, four games left: Cedar this week and Pine View next week) — The Flyers have also played the Thunder (lost twice) and the Falcons (a split), so they won’t have to see either top team. In fact, Dixie’s fate definitely is in its own hands, with Cedar and Pine View on tap. If the Flyers can somehow sweep one of the two, a playoff spot is an almost certainty. A split with both and a 6-6 record could end up creating a play-in game scenario. Obviously Dixie cannot afford to get swept in either remaining series.
Pine View (4-4 in region, four games left: Desert Hills this week, Dixie next week) — The Panthers can do themselves a huge favor by figuring out how to get at least one game against No. 1-ranked Desert Hills this week. Otherwise, it may come down to a must-sweep scenario against Dixie in the season’s final week. Still, PV salvaged its shot at the playoffs with a huge road win at Cedar last Friday. But Pine View must find a way to win at least two of its last four games.
Snow Canyon (5-5 in region, two games left: Desert Hills next week) — The defending-state champs are on the ropes. The Warriors have a region bye this week (SC plays at Bishop Gorman today and Timpanogas tomorrow) and then finishes with the prospect of having to win at least one game against the region-leading Thunder. Don’t underestimate the heart of these champions, though in baseball, sometimes pitching trumps heart. Remember though, SC needed to beat Desert Hills twice last season to win state and the Warriors got that done.
Pine View leads Region 9 in scoring at 2.8 goals per game and is also tops in allowing the fewest goals at .81 goals allowed. It would be a storybook ending if PV can get a win tonight.
But a word of caution about counting chickens before they hatch. Even with an excellent league season and the great numbers we just mentioned, the job isn’t done yet. Pine View has a bye Friday, so this is the last game for the Panthers — and it all could fade away in a big hurry tonight. If PV loses at home and any of the three teams just behind the Panthers (which include Dixie, Snow Canyon and Cedar) win out, Pine View could miss out on the outright region title and possibly the No. 1 seed.
The good news for Pine View is that the three teams could kn0ck each other out of that scenario. Dixie is at Snow Canyon tonight and then finishes Friday at home vs. Canyon View. The Warriors have that Dixie game, then are home for Cedar Friday. And the Redmen have to squeeze in a home match with Hurricane between tonight’s PV game and Friday’s SC game.
Desert Hills can still get into the playoffs, but the fifth-place Thunder, who won region last year, need one of the trio of teams ahead of them to lose their games this week and, of course, DH must win against CV tonight and at Hurricane Friday.
What is not set is which team is going to win this region. Snow Canyon and Canyon View are dead even at 7-2 with each having won on the other’s field. Cedar is right behind at 6-2, having already taken its second-half bye. Cedar plays at Snow Canyon Thursday, so that will knock one of those teams back. Desert Hills faces a must-win situation today with Canyon View visiting. The Thunder can ill-afford a sixth region loss if they’re going to make the playoffs.
Here’s this week’s schedule:
Dixie at Cedar, 4 p.m.
Canyon View at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Pine View, 7 p.m.
Canyon View at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Cedar at Pine View, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
Canyon View at Desert Hills, 4 p.m.
Dixie at Snow Canyon, 4 p.m.
Pine View at Cedar, 4 p.m.
Hurricane at Cedar, 4 p.m.
Canyon View at Dixie, 4 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Cedar, 4 p.m.
Hurricane at Canyon View, 4 p.m.
Cedar at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Canyon View at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Cedar at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Hurricane, 4 p.m.
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