Henderson: Playoff Bracket Breakdown
The Baseball Brackets have been released and today I give my initial thoughts on the New Mexico High School Baseball Playoffs.
No. 1 Seeds
In Class 5A, it really was no surprise that the La Cueva Bears landed the top spot in the tournament. Ending the year with a record of 21-3 and sweeping Eldorado late in the year made the playoff committee's job an easy one. The Bears clearly very dangerous are led by Caleb McAlister who is hitting right at .500 and Connor Calvert who is hitting .485 with three bombs and 33 RBI's. Andrew Pratt leads the State of New Mexico with 7 home runs, Jeff Deimling has three bombs and 30 RBI's. You pitch around anyone on La Cueva, the next in line can rip it, it's been like that all year. On the mound, the Bears are led by Chad Smith who has 36 K's and 6 wins. Trey Alexander along with Alex Howard have combined for 11 season wins, salty bullpen.
The Piedra Vista Panthers ended the year as District 1-4A Champs with a record of 17-9. Piedra Vista, St. Pius X, or Goddard could of landed the No. 1 spot going in as each were very deserving. The Panthers this year in my opinion have played the toughest season schedule and though they lack big-time names like they have had in the past, their roster still has a few NMPreps.com Mr. Baseball Candidates. Kody Russell has a .353 average and has scored 19 runs this year. He also has a fiddling percentage of 1.000%. Matthew Martin, one of the top players for Piedra Vista over the last few years has an on base average of .457 and has scored 28 runs in 2014. Zach Ahlgrim is a player we saw come on strong last year and he has continued his hot play year over year with a .368 batting average and 23 RBI's.
After Sandia Prep dropped two against the St. Michael's Horsemen in the final week of the season, Silver was pretty moved into the No. 1 spot. For a team that has not received a ton of hype this year, the Colts are a incredible 21-4 and are the District 3-3A Champs. Lead by Head Coach Claudie Thompson, this year names like Gabe Morales, Zach Jasso, Derek Salas, and Shakur Martinez have been tough to beat weekly and are the only true threat this year to take the title away from a loaded group of Northern New Mexico Teams.
The Texico Wolverines have seem primed for a state title run since the start of the year and have been blowing by teams as of late. This year they are 23-1 entering the playoffs. Watch for Gentry Doolittle on the mound as he has racked up 5 wins and thrown three two hitter games in 2014. Jonah Walls, Jarron Hill, and John Myers are additional names to keep tabs on as we move forward. Head Coach Ty Thatcher has a loaded group with the clear target on their back.
In Class 1A, the Gateway Christian Warriors finished the year 15-4 under Head Coach Rick Rapp to claim the No. 1 seed in the 8-team small school playoffs. One player in particular who has been on-fire all year long is Andrew Meeks who has a 1.57 ERA, has 6 wins on the mound and fielding percentage of .904.
Best First Round Match Ups
Starting with Class 5A the No. 8 Hobbs vs. No. 9 Valley best of three game series jumps out. Usually these 8 vs. 9 games could go either way and Valley has to be a little bit heated over being crown the District 5-5A Champ and having the travel down to Lea County In Round One. Hobbs has the edge talent wise, but Valley seems to be peeking at the right time.
There are two games that I am really looking forward to this weekend in Class 4A. No. 8 seeded Los Lunas hosting No. 9 seeded Deming. Remember Deming won District 3-4A, Los Lunas was the District 6-4A Runner Up and still Deming is on the road this weekend. I am also going to be paying close attention to No. 10 Centennial vs. No. 7 Los Alamos. The Hawks are young program wise, but this is really their first year to turn heads in the tournament, on the flip side no-one in District 2-4A came close to touching the Hilltoppers.
In Class 3A No. 12 Ruidoso traveling to No. 5 Taos should be an exciting series. The Warriors were last year's cinderella team and do have a good amount of talent and should have no issue with keeping each of their match ups against Taos close. The Tigers are this year's District 2-3A Champs, which says a lot about their talent considering 2-3A was a battle weekly.
No. 9 Estancia making the long trip to taking on No. 8 Lordsburg is a prime match up of two teams in Class 2A playing some great baseball towards the end of the year. No. 6 Pecos hoisting No. 11 Loving is a fantastic 1st round match up, Loving actually beat Pecos earlier in the year.
No. 5 Capitan heading over to No. 4 Melrose is the best game to watch this weekend at the 1A level. Melrose has enough talent to make a real run at the title, Capitan made a run last year.
Not sure if you can really consider Volcano Vista a sleeper team as they actually beat teams like La Cueva, Eldorado, and Rio Rancho this year, but since they are the No. 5 seed I am considering them today. Chris Padilla has had a monster year at the plate and we all know that Head Coach Kevin Andersh knows how to win in the Month of May.
No. 6 seeded Farmington is a team loaded with talent and likely enters feeling they were seeded to high after beating Academy headed to head earlier in the year. Year after Farmington is a tough out, however if they overlook Miyamura they could be in trouble themselves.
I have two sleeper teams in Class 3A. The first is Portales and the second is Raton. The Rams I feel can play Silver close if each team is to reach the quarterfinals. Raton has a tough match up with Lovington and then would likely take on St. Mike's if the beat the Wildcats. Those are two tough back to back wins to pull off however.
In Class 2A my sleeper teams are the Estancia Bears and the Eunice Cardinals. Not sure if either really has the horses to make a real deep run, but they can make it interesting over the next few weeks as the two top level programs have shown they can win in the playoffs over the last few years.
Watch for Questa in the Class 1A. They have some impressive season wins and if they get past Floyd I would love to see them match up with Magdalena or McCurdy.
My Final Four Picks