Leagues across the state will finally commence their conference playoffs starting this week, a prelude to the much-anticipated state tournaments. Regular season games that still have to be played before the playoff starts as a result a series of rainouts is creating havoc across the state.
Let’s have a quick look at some of the conference tournaments set to play out this week while the Berkshire League, NCCC and CCC finish out their regular seasons without playoffs.
Preseason favorite Trumbull mowed through the entire conference this year, going undefeated in the league and winning many in a rout. However, the Eagles (19-1) were tested by both No. 2 Ludlowe and No. 3 St. Joseph during the regular season, making capturing their first title since 2010 far from a guarantee.
The Eagles — winners of 10 straight — will face Warde in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Defending champion St. Joseph will host Danbury in the quarterfinals while Stamford and Norwalk face off in an interesting No. 4-5 game.
The semifinals and final are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, both at Sacred Heart University.
No one has been able to solve Masuk and the dynamic pitching duo of Sam Schiebe and Madison Procyk; the pair have combined to shut out 16 of the Panthers’ 19 opponents entering the week. The defending conference champions and No. 1 team in the state got a tune-up before the playoffs when it rallied past Brookfield last Monday. Masuk is scheduled to face Newtown Monday; the conference tournament runs from Tuesday to Thursday.
Both the Bobcats and Nighthawks are capable of handing Masuk its first loss while Barlow and Notre Dame-Fairfield lurk behind. Pomperaug — which reached the final last year — got off to a slow start but has improved down the stretch.
Like many conferences in the state, the field of eight has yet to be set for the SCC. Ten teams are still alive for the postseason ahead of Monday’s final round of games. The playoffs are scheduled to start Tuesday.
Defending champion Cheshire (18-1) is undefeated in league play and appears to be peaking at the right time. Led by ace Natalie Amato, the Rams — winners of 14 straight — have allowed just three runs in their last eight games.
Daniel Hand (18-1) is one game away from completing an outstanding regular season while Amty and North Haven have combined to win the four division titles. Guilford is 12-3 in league play and is in the hunt for a top seed in the tournament. Four of the Indians’ six losses have come at the hands of Hand and Cheshire.
Defending champion Seymour (19-1) leads the pack into the tournament as the No. 1 seed; the winners of the Copper Division mauled St. Paul 10-2 to avenge its only defeat of the regular season.
Wolcott captured the Iron Division title while Holy Cross won the Brass Division. The Crusaders (15-5) finished the season winning 10 of their last 12, with the two defeats coming by one run.
The field has yet to be set, though. Oxford — which was hit hardest by last week’s storm with schools closed through Monday — is scheduled to visit Sacred Heart Tuesday, the same day the postseason hopes to begin.
North Branford — which has won the past three titles — still has two regular season games to play before the tournament begins Friday. The Thunderbirds are wins over Valley Regional and Berlin away from completing a perfect regular season.
Coginchaug appears to be the top challenger to the throne; both matchups between the two teams came down to the final inning, with North Branford claiming 2-0 and 3-2 wins.
The quarterfinals are scheduled to begin Friday, with the semifinals and final set for Saturday and Sunday at Old Lyme. All teams that qualify for the state tournament with eight wins automatically qualify for the Shoreline tournament.
One of the most competitive conference races lies in the eastern part of the state where several squads have hopes of ending Fitch’s three-year reign atop the conference.
Griswold handed Norwich Free Academy — two of the league favorite heading into the playoffs — a 6-2 loss early in the season before NFA got hot late, closing the season with seven straight wins. Griswold’s lone loss came to out-of-conference North Branford last Monday.
The Wildcats sit atop the Division I standings while Montville is first in Division II and Griswold tops Division III. First round games are slated for Tuesday, while quarterfinals (Wednesday), semis (Thursday) and final (Friday) will follow. The semis and final will be held at Griswold.
Conference tournament play is scheduled to begin Monday with the CTC playing four quarterfinals. No. 1 Norwich will host Vinal, No. 2 Wilcox faces Ellis, No. 3 Abbott hosts Platt at Hatters Park and No. 4 Goodwin takes on Wolcott. Norwich Tech went undefeated in the league during the regular season in posting a 17-2 record; Wilcox won the tournament a year ago.
The semifinals are scheduled to be played at the higher seed Wednesday, with the final Thursday at DeLuca Field in Stratford.