The first round of playoffs are somewhat of a cakewalk for many Mid-Columbia softball teams: five-inning, mercy-shortened contests are common in weeding out the weaker teams.
There won’t be many weak teams left this weekend — if any at all — when each league pares down its district and regional finalists to form the pool of state tournament teams.
At the top of the list is Kamiakin (19-2), the two-time defending Class 3A champion; Connell (15-3-1), the three-time Class 1A champ; and Othello (19-1), the CWAC co-champ that has won three state titles in 16 state appearances.
The Braves will take on North Central (7-15) at 11 a.m. today at University High School in Spokane in the first round of the Class 3A District 5/8 regional tournament.
This season, three teams will earn state berths out of the Class 3A tournament, but only two teams from Class 4A will go.
But you can’t forget Richland (19-2), the Mid-Columbia Conference co-champion that has kept scorekeepers on their toes all season. The Bombers will bring their high-powered offense and solid defense to Spokane at 3 p.m. today to take on Central Valley, the top seed out of the Greater Spokane League.
Walla Walla (15-5) missed out on a state trip last year after finishing first in 2011 and second in 2012. The Blue Devils will be hungry to make it back.
Among other area contenders for a state berth will be DeSales and Tri-Cities Prep out of the Class 2B District 9 tourney, which will benefit from having five berths to state.
Also, Touchet will have a good shot at one of two berths out of the Class 1B District 9 tournament, but they might have to settle for the No. 2 seed, as five-time defending state champion Colton is in their way.