Throughout the short softball season, Centennial coach Mike Livreri could only scratch his head.
“You’d see some scores from around town and think, ‘How did that happen?’” Livreri said.
Wins were anything but guaranteed in the first season of Class 5A softball, and that’s why the Southern Region championship tournament has such a wide-open feel.
The regional championships for 5A, 4A and 3A will run from Monday through Saturday at campus sites, and 2A will be played Friday and Saturday at The Meadows. An invitational tournament of 1A teams will take place, but it isn’t being sponsored by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
Green Valley (9-1) is the top seed in the 5A tournament, followed by Centennial (9-2), Arbor View (6-1) and 2019 state champion Shadow Ridge (9-3).
The Gators are led by sophomore twins in left-handed pitcher and leadoff hitter Avari Morris and shortstop and No. 3 hitter Mikee Morris. They are the younger sisters of Aubree Munro, who was a college teammate of Green Valley first-year coach Kathlyn Doiron at Florida.
“We have two other outstanding pitchers right behind Avari that she knows can come in and help her if she needs it,” Doiron said. “That helps her confidence, but her dominance has been so amazing to watch. The adjustments she makes have been so special to watch. She might be a sophomore, but she plays to a senior caliber.”
Doiron, a two-time national champion at Florida, knows what this time of year is all about. Judging by the fevered intensity level she saw at practice Saturday, she thinks her team understands, too. In short, as Doiron said, the Gators “get it.”
Arbor View was just happy to get on the field. The Aggies started the season in COVID-19 protocols, which put them behind schedule. But they’re hitting their stride now, having won six straight after an early 9-3 loss to Shadow Ridge.
“I feel like now that we have some games under our belt, more time for our pitchers to get work and hitters to come along, we’re on the upswing,” coach LeeAnn Jarvis said.
Shadow Ridge is a wild card, as it’s the only team with a win over Green Valley and Arbor View, but it went 3-3 to close the regular season. Five of those six games were decided by one run, with the other a 3-1 loss to Coronado in the regular-season finale.
Unfortunately for Coronado and Liberty, the Clark County School District informed the NIAA that they won’t be able to participate. The reason was not specified, but both teams have had issues with COVID-19 in their athletic programs.
In Class 4A, Bishop Gorman dominated during the season and enters as the overwhelming favorite.
The Gaels (11-0) outscored their six 4A foes 104-14, with only one game — an 11-5 win over Chaparral — lasting the full seven innings.
Players to watch
Ellie Bostedt, Centennial: The sophomore hit .639 with 11 doubles, 12 RBIs and 15 runs scored, had a 1.62 ERA and struck out 23 in 17 1/3 innings.
Jill Colgan, Rancho: The sophomore hit .500 with 12 RBIs and had a 1.68 ERA with 106 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.
Katelyn Hunter, Bishop Gorman: The senior hit .556 and leads the Gaels with eight doubles, three home runs and 19 runs scored.
Hailey Morrow, Shadow Ridge: The junior hit .486 with seven doubles, two home runs and 15 runs scored and didn’t strike out in 41 plate appearances.
Avari Morris, Green Valley: The sophomore pitcher led the Gators to the No. 1 seed and was one of their top hitters from the leadoff spot.