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The New Mexico Activities Association will release the playoff brackets for baseball and softball teams around the state today and the Hilltopper squads will be anxiously awaiting to see where they land.
The NMAA’s seeding and selection committee will convene today to discuss teams’ postseason fates, including the Hilltoppers.
Heading into today’s selection meeting, Los Alamos’ baseball team will wait to see what seed it will be afforded in the 4A bracket. Los Alamos’ softball team will be looking to see whether it will get a playoff nod.
The Hilltopper softball team, barring a spectacular crash by Bernalillo in its season finales against Española Valley — it played a doubleheader Saturday but results weren’t available as of press time — will land in second place in District 2-4A.
While that and the team’s 14-11 record (10-2 in district) will likely get Los Alamos in, 2-4A isn’t afforded a lot of respect around the state and that won’t do Los Alamos any favors in the eyes of the committee.
Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said he’s confident that his team will be invited to the dance.
“I think we have a strong case to get an at-large bid,” he said. “That’s based on how I feel we finished. We finished strong. Throughout the season, we’ve been in the power rankings. We stayed in the 12 spot. And in the coaches poll, in the later part of the year, they ranked us ninth.”
The Hilltoppers finished the season winning their last four contests, all on the road, and handed Bernalillo its only loss of the season April 18.
On the baseball side, Los Alamos clinched the 2-4A title April 27 with a win in game one over the Española Valley Sundevils, its fifth straight, to qualify for the Class 4A postseason.
Los Alamos won 15 of its final 16 and has put up some big run totals during the district season.
It is entirely possible the Hilltoppers will be the only team from 2-4A to advance to the playoffs. Despite having a very solid 16-7 overall record heading into a doubleheader Saturday against Bernalillo, Española Valley could well miss out on the postseason altogether.
The Sundevils will finish, at best, with a none-too-impressive 8-4 record and a runner-up finish in 2-4A — results from the Española Valley-Bernalillo doubleheader were unavailable as of press time. The Sundevils are squarely on the bubble, largely because of a weak strength-of-schedule rating and a No. 16 ranking in the most recent MaxPreps poll, neither of which bode well for their inclusion.
Should the Sundevils slip into third place after the dust settles from this weekend, their hopes of advancing will almost assuredly be dashed. Bernalillo (7-17) has just one win over a nondistrict opponent this season and isn’t even on the radar for possible postseason inclusion.
Because the ratings system has 2-4A teams scored so low — no other district team is even in the top 20 in the 26-team classification — Hilltopper manager Mike Gill said that, even with his team’s sweep of the Sundevils and pasting of Capital to end the season, there was little chance those wins would do much to boost the Hilltoppers’ stock.
The top seeds in the first round will host a best-of-3 series and Los Alamos could be forced to travel for that series.
But whether the Hilltoppers stay at home or not, Gill said he wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it, either.
“We have no control over that,” he said.
Both Piedra Vista’s baseball and softball teams are likely to receive No. 1 overall seeds in 4A.
Anaya said that, if he had to guess, his team will likely end up traveling to Gallup or Los Lunas.
Los Alamos’ softball team lost a tight 3-1 game to Gallup earlier this season, a game Anaya said Los Alamos put runners on base but couldn’t drive them in when it needed to.
“No matter where we go, we’ll be able to compete,” he said.