Maybe it's that I'm getting older (we're all getting older, I know that), but the high school baseball and softball seasons really breezed by this year. In another few weeks, there won't be any high school sports until the fall, and I'll have but one team to worry about, the IronBirds. Thinking about the Aberdeen men turning in a campaign like last year's is enough to make any journalist blue (try interviewing a manager and players who just lost their 12th straight game), so I'm going to focus on the positive, the upcoming MPSSAA regional tournaments. Here's what we've got, and how I see things shaking out, though I might give some non-committal, "I'm not saying anything just yet," pseudo predictions:
3A North baseball: I bring this one up first because I know North Harford, which just captured its first UCBAC title Wednesday, is out for blood, having been eliminated by La Plata last year in a 15-inning, state semifinal epic. The majority of the 2011 Hawks squad returned for the 2012 campaign, and I don't see any reason they couldn't stomp their way to the title game. Of course, they're probably going to have to beat C. Milton Wright and Bel Air in a two-day span next week, weather permitting, and I wouldn't wish that kind of schedule on anyone. Remember, Bel Air beat Patterson Mill, the only UCBAC team that was able to knock off North Harford this year, and, strange late-season results aside, CMW is always dangerous, so there are no guarantees. In a perfect world, however, North Harford gets to the 3A finals, where the Hawks square off with the East bracket's top seed, La Plata, and get revenge, maybe in another 15-inning epic.
2A East baseball: Not to reduce things too much, but I'm betting on Patterson Mill, last year's 1A state finalist, to storm through this region. The Huskies were bumped up on two levels this year, moving from the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake Division, and from Class 1A to 2A. They proved they had no trouble competing in the Chesapeake, handing North Harford its lone UCBAC loss and I think they'll make the transition in post-season play equally well. That said, I'm curious to see how the second-round game goes, which should pit Patterson Mill against Susquehanna powerhouse Harford Tech.
1A North baseball: Just Havre de Grace here, and the Warriors will have to beat Perryville, a team they split two regular season games with, to move on. After that though, the Warriors could navigate to the regional finals, where they would probably run into Bo Manor, a team that spanked them pretty good in two regular season matchups.
3A North softball: Like the 3A North baseball bracket, this one has its share of dangerous teams, but I would bet on the CMW girls getting through, as the Mustangs have won back-to-back regional titles, making it to the state finals in 2010 and state semis last season, all with the same core group of players. But, you have North Harford, which beat CMW, 11-6, back on April 13, then nearly pulled off the mother of all comebacks in Monday's game with the Mustangs, and Bel Air, which lost to CMW by just one run, 5-4, on April 16. I'm not making any predictions, but CMW vs. North Harford or Bel Air in the regional semifinals would be a fine matchup.
2A East softball: Put simply, to get out of this bracket, one of the five local teams (Harford Tech, Patterson Mill, Fallston, Edgewood, Joppatowne), is going to have to beat Chesapeake Division champ and overall powerhouse Rising Sun. Harford Tech has the best shot at doing so.
1A North softball: As with baseball, it's the Havre de Grace Warriors all by their lonesome in this bracket. I'm saying that the Warriors carve up the first two teams they meet, then run into Perryville or Bo Manor in the regional finals. Havre de Grace is capable of beating both those teams if everything goes right. If not, it's curtains for Harford County's lone 1A representative.