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Big 7 teams look to finish strong

With only one week remaining in the local high school softball season and two weeks remaining in the baseball season, it’s do-or-die time for the Big 7 teams with playoff aspirations. This is especially true for those teams that currently find themselves trailing the top four teams in their respective districts since they have some catching up to do just to get into one of the top four playoff-qualifying spots in each sport’s district.

If the District 30-6A and District 31-5A softball and baseball seasons were to end today, three Big 7 softball teams and four baseball teams would have their playoff berths all locked up. And of those seven teams, one would be district champions.

20180320 Softball JLHS vs LJHS LG 61Let’s take a look at each of these four districts and the Big 7 teams that remain in the hunt for either a district championship or a playoff spot.

District 30-6A Softball
The 8-0 La Joya Lady Coyotes are not only the only Big 7 team to have already punched their ticket into the playoffs, but they are sitting pretty atop the 30-6A standings with only three games remaining on their schedule. Having outscored their district opponents by an average of just over 10 runs a game thus far this season, the Lady Coyotes are as dominant as any softball team across the Valley. And with two of their remaining three games being against the sixth place Palmview Lady Lobos and the seventh place Juarez-Lincoln Lady Huskies, who they defeated by a combined score of 32-2 in the first round of games, there should be no stopping the Lady Coyotes from adding a district championship trophy to their trophy case very soon.

Currently in fifth place and one-and-a-half games behind the fourth place McAllen High Lady Bulldogs, the 3-6 Mission Lady Eagles not only need to win their remaining games to have any chance of leap frogging the Lady Bulldogs and claiming the fourth and final playoff spot in the district, but they will need a lot of help as well. However, the fact that the Lady Eagles will be going head-to-head against the Lady Bulldogs in the last game of the regular season could mean that Mission will control their own playoff destiny should they move to within one game of McAllen going into that game.

District 31-5A Softball
With the 10-3 Mission Veterans Lady Patriots, the 10-3 Rio Grande City Lady Rattlers and the 9-3 Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks all within one-half-game of each other atop the District 31-5A standings, it is really anybody’s championship to take.

Tonight’s head-to-head matchup between Mission Veterans and Rio Grande will most likely go a long way towards determining which of those two teams will be in the driver’s seat for the championship and which will most likely have to settle for a playoff berth.

The 7-5 Sharyland Lady Rattlers are still in the playoff hunt themselves as they are currently in fifth place, one game behind 9-5 Laredo Cigarroa. With games against Mission Veterans and Rio Grande City still on their schedule however, Sharyland certainly has their work cut out for them if they are going to make up ground on Cigarroa and claim the fourth and final playoff spot in the district for themselves.

District 30-6A Baseball
While the 6-2 Mission Eagles and the 5-3 La Joya Coyotes are within striking distance of the first place McAllen Bulldogs (7-0), chances are that they will each have to settle for one of the district four playoff spots. But with the 4-4 McAllen Memorial Mustangs and the 3-4 Nikki Rowe Warriors nipping at their heels, the Eagles and the Coyotes are by no means assured of qualifying for postseason play. That is because they both still have work to do and with Rowe, Palmview and McAllen High on the Eagles’ remaining schedule, and McAllen Memorial, Juarez-Lincoln, Rowe and Palmview on the Coyotes’ schedule, there’s no rest for the weary as the 12 game regular season begins to wind down.

As for the 2-6 Palmview Lobos, while they are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, they have two games to make up just to earn a tie with the fourth place McAllen Memorial Mustangs. As a result, it’s looking as if the Lobos will miss out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season.

District 31-5A Baseball
After enjoying a brief stay atop the District 31-5A standings, back-to-back losses to Valley View (8-2) and Laredo Martin (6-4) dropped the 8-3 Sharyland Rattlers into second place, one half game behind the Tigers and half a game ahead of Rio Grande City (8-4). Even so, the Rattlers are having quite a bounce-back season from their 7-9 2017 season in which they missed out on the playoffs all-together. Still remaining on the Rattlers’ schedule are Pioneer, Laredo Nixon, Mission Veterans and Rio Grande City.

As for the 7-4 Pioneer Diamondbacks, they are currently occupying fourth place in District 31-5A, half a game behind Rio Grande City and half a game ahead of Laredo Cigarroa (7-5). With Rio Grande City, Sharyland, Valley View, Laredo Martin and Roma still on the Diamondbacks’ schedule, there is still plenty of time for Pioneer to make up some ground on the three teams ahead of them in the standings. But even if they don’t move up at all, maintaining the status quo will be good enough to earn the Diamondbacks a spot in the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

With five games remaining on their schedule, it’s not too late for the 4-7 Mission Veterans Patriots to make a run at the playoffs. However, they will pretty much have to win all five of their remaining games to have any shot of breaking into the top four spots in the district. While stranger things have happened, much stranger things have not.

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