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.
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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.