The biggest playoff tournament of them all, the District One Class AAAA Tournament, kicks off on Monday, so today seems as good a time as any to figure out where teams stand relative to each other. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Super 7, but here goes. (Records through May 18).
1. Garnet Valley (14-3)
I think this one is beyond doubt. The Jaguars have won seven straight, vaulting into their first ever outright Central League title and the No. 2 seed in the District One Tournament. It’s possible that they could face Penncrest in the second round, something they should feel good about after beating the Lions twice in the regular season. Last year, they fell just short playing for a place in states; this year, they might just have enough offense and pitching to get over the hump.
2. Cardinal O’Hara (14-7)
The Lions are still alive in the Catholic League title, playing Neumann-Goretti in the Catholic League losers bracket final Monday. Whether they’re still alive in the hunt for a spot in states is always an open question with the Catholic League’s asinine points system. Either way, you have to admire what the Lions have done this season. Their game against Roman Catholic last Thursday (moved hastily from Friday by the Catholic League’s equally asinine system of communications) was a classic befitting some of the phenomenal games produced in that tournament in recent years.
3. Strath Haven (13-5)
The Panthers have finished with wins in eight of their last nine, vaulting them ahead of Conestoga and into the third seed from the south of District One, which earns a first-round bye. Haven has a bevy of strong arms, though perhaps not a shutdown guy like Donovan Davis last year. How they piece those three or four really solid arms together to get them through 14 innings and into states is an open question and will define their states aspirations.
4. Bonner-Prendergast (12-7)
It was made clear early on that this wasn’t a Bonner-Prendergast team of the same caliber as recent versions, like the states qualifying team of last year. It’s certainly a younger team, and there are players that still have time to grow together. But this season, it just didn’t come together for whatever reason. No dominant arm emerged, and though a variety of players stepped up from time to time, there wasn’t one person (perhaps short of sophomore Steve Furman) who became a consistent lineup presence.
5. Haverford School (15-9)
The Fords had their say in the Inter-Ac title race, though beating Malvern Prep behind Frank Cresta’s walk-off homer to hand a share of the title to Penn Charter probably isn’t what they had in mind at the beginning of the season. The Fords still have a chance to make a run at a title by defending their Independent Schools crown from last year, and the knowledge that they can beat Malvern is surely a helpful confidence boost in that endeavor.
6. Penncrest (12-6)
Losses in three of their last four certainly isn’t the way the Lions would like to head into the postseason. That means they’ll have to hit the road to visit Methacton Monday, while looming if they win would be a visit to Garnet Valley, a team that has beaten them three times this season, including a 14-3 drubbing at Penncrest last time they met.
7. Radnor (12-7)
A home playoff game is a major accomplishment for the Raiders, who host Central Bucks East, the No. 10 seed in the north, Monday afternoon. With Sean Corelli on the hill, you have to feel encouraged about the Raiders’ ability to win one game in this tournament; finding a way to get past the second test at No. 2 North seed Boyertown is a stiffer test.
Honorable mention: Chichester (14-3; The Del Val League champions – boy that sounds weird for someone other than Interboro – get a home game to start the Class AAA tournament. A win would be a big accomplishment, especially given how deep the AAA field is this year); Interboro (15-3; The Bucs have had their young pitching staff step up significantly in recent weeks, and we’ll see how well that translates into the pressure of the postseason); Marple Newtown (11-8; the Tigers season came to an abrupt end in the play-in game of the Class AAA Tournament, 6-5, at the hands of Bishop Shanahan. It’s a disappointing finish for a team that beat Harriton twice this season and could’ve had a chance in that tournament.)