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Tight prep baseball races heat up as playoffs draw near

The 5A baseball playoff picture in Southern Nevada should become clearer soon. At least in theory.

Two weeks remain in the regular season before the Southern Region playoffs begin May 6. The top two teams in each division play each other twice this week with first place and a No. 1 seed in the postseason on the line.

Of course, there’s always a chance things could get more jumbled given how tight the standings are.

“There’s a lot of good teams. Everybody can beat everybody, which is pretty cool,” Faith Lutheran coach Dave Anderson said. “The parity this year is really awesome.”

Basic (20-4, 7-1) and Faith Lutheran (18-6, 7-1) are tied atop the Mountain League and play each other twice this week. Faith Lutheran hosts Basic at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The two teams meet again at Basic at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

In the Desert League, Shadow Ridge (12-13-1, 5-2-1) is a half-game ahead of second-place Las Vegas High (18-5-1, 4-2). The two teams play Tuesday at Shadow Ridge and Thursday at Las Vegas High. Both games are at 3:30 p.m.

“You have to be at your best every day because everybody can beat everybody,” Shadow Ridge coach Billy McCall said. “You need to come out every game with your best and treat every game like you’re playing for your life and playing for the playoffs.”

None of the 14 5A Southern teams have been eliminated from the postseason. The top four teams from each seven-team division qualify for the Southern Region playoffs.

“You only have two weeks left and there’s still a path for literally everybody to make it,” Anderson said. “You just got to win.”

Some separation

Faith Lutheran, No. 1 in the Review-Journal’s Class 5A rankings, and No. 2 Basic have created some breathing room in the Mountain League. They’re both three games ahead of third-place Palo Verde (16-10, 5-5).

Anderson said Faith Lutheran can go deep into its bench and throw out multiple pitchers. The Crusaders have played most of the 5A teams and Anderson said that should help them in the region playoffs.

“You get a chance to see matchups,” Anderson said. “With our depth, we really have a pretty good idea of what we want our matchups to look like. It’s really nice, because we might not play the same nine guys one playoff game to the next.”

Basic remains a state title contender despite a coaching change. The school announced April 10 that coach Scott Baker was no longer with the team. No reason was given for Baker’s dismissal.

The team named assistant Gino DiMaria, who coached Bishop Gorman from 2015-22, its interim coach. Anderson said keeping the top of Basic’s lineup — brothers Ty, Troy and Tate Southisene are all hitting .470 or better — off the bases will be key.

“You really have to take care of the ball when you play Basic,” Anderson said. “They like to put a lot of pressure on.”

Tight Desert League

Two-and-a-half games separate Shadow Ridge and last-place Bishop Gorman (12-11, 2-4). The Mustangs defeated the Gaels twice last week.

Bishop Gorman, last year’s 5A state champion, is dealing with its own coaching change. The school told the Review-Journal on April 10 that coach Chris Sheff was suspended and the program was under investigation. Assistant Jeff Malm was named interim coach.

The Mustangs moved up to 5A this year after reaching the 4A title game the last two seasons and winning it in 2022. They started 2-9 after facing some of the other top 5A teams, including Basic and Faith Lutheran.

“I just wanted to go play the best,” McCall said. “Those are the games we want to be in and want to win. It was kind of a wake-up call for us. We didn’t do the little things right.”

McCall, in his first year at Shadow Ridge, said last week’s wins over Bishop Gorman gave his team confidence it can play with anyone.

“I can’t wait to compete with (Las Vegas High),” McCall said. “That’s a really good team over there. I’ve coached some of those kids. I’ve known some of those kids. They’re going to come out swinging and it’s going to be a very fun test for us.”

Around 4A and 3A

Sierra Vista, No. 1 in the Review-Journal’s 4A rankings, has passed every test from other 4A teams. Three of its four losses have come to 5A teams. Sierra Vista (20-4, 6-0) plays Silverado (15-9, 6-0), who is also undefeated in Sky League play, twice this week with first place on the line.

Durango (17-6, 6-0) is leading the Mountain League by two games over Rancho (11-14, 4-2). Tech (21-4, 6-0) and Legacy (15-4, 4-0) both play each other twice this week for first place in the Desert League.

In 3A, Virgin Valley (19-1, 6-0) is leading the Desert League by two games over Mater East (14-9, 4-2) and Moapa Valley (11-11, 4-2). The Meadows (16-7, 6-0) is atop the Mountain League by a game over SLAM Academy (12-8, 5-1).

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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