Posted: 1:03 pm Friday, April 12th, 2013

Softball: Inside the district tournaments 

By Jeff Greer

Playoff softball is upon us. First up: the district tournaments. Let’s run through each district in Palm Beach County and up on the Treasure Coast and break them down.

Jupiter ace Kylee Hanson and her teammates have their eyes trained on another trip to state. A tricky district playoff, though, stands in the way.

The county’s two large-schools districts feature some enticing matchups. Remember: The two finalists in the district tournaments automatically qualify for the regional quarterfinals. To see where the district finalists will be slotted in the regional quarterfinals, you can view the brackets on the FHSAA website.

Some superlatives before we get going:

Top semifinal game
There’s no contesting Tuesday’s anticipated showdown between Jupiter and Palm Beach Central. The area’s two best large-schools pitchers go head-to-head. Both teams are state-ranked. Jupiter is first in the Post rankings; Central’s third. The teams split the regular-season series. Jupiter went to state last year and lost in the semifinals, and came back this year with some unfinished business. Central poses a serious threat to ending that desire earlier than expected.

Another good game
Seminole Ridge has been up and down all season, but the Hawks can be dangerous in the postseason. Their first opponent, Spanish River, has been in the Post rankings all season, but the Sharks will have their hands full right off the bat.

Interesting facts
(1) Palm Beach County has had at least one team play for a state championship in each of the past three seasons, and nine of the past 10.

(2) Don’t think winning the district tournament matters? In 2012, district winners were 8-1 in their first-round games. District runner-ups were 2-8. No district runner-up reached a regional final.

To the district breakdowns:

District 6-8A
Favorite: Vero Beach.
Prediction: Vero Beach over Centennial in the final.

All games at Vero Beach
(2) Centennial vs. (3) Treasure Coast, 7 p.m.
(1) Vero Beach vs. Centennial/T-Coast winner, 7 p.m.

District 9-8A
Favorite: Jupiter.
Prediction: Gardens over Jupiter.
Note: The state’s best district should provide plenty of fireworks. I think Gardens and Jupiter will both win a head-to-head matchup against each other in the next two weeks. Then again, Central could run through everyone to at least the regional final. Those three teams are very close.

All games at Jupiter
(4) Wellington vs. (5) Dwyer, 5 p.m.
(1) Palm Beach Gardens vs. Wellington/Dwyer winner, 5 p.m.
(2) Jupiter vs. (3) Palm Beach Central, 7:30 p.m.
Championship game, 7:30 p.m.

District 10-8A
Favorite: Park Vista.
Prediction: Park Vista over Seminole Ridge.
Note: Vista’s head and shoulders above the rest of the district this season. Ridge and River play the best matchup. Keep an eye on Boca.

All games at West Boynton Park
(4) Boca Raton vs. (5) John I. Leonard, 6 p.m.
(2) Spanish River vs. (3) Seminole Ridge, 4:30 p.m.
(1) Park Vista vs. Boca/Leonard winner, 7 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.

District 12-7A
Favorite: Okeechobee.
Prediction: Okeechobee over South Fork.

Sebastian River at Fort Pierce Central, 4:30 p.m.
Port St. Lucie at Martin County, 5 p.m.
At Okeechobee
South Fork vs. River/Central, 5 p.m.
Okeechobee vs. PSL/Martin County, 7 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.

District 13-7A
Favorite: Royal Palm Beach.
Prediction: Royal Palm Beach over Santaluces.

All games at Royal Palm Beach
(1) Santaluces vs. (4) Palm Beach Lakes, 5 p.m.
(2) Royal Palm Beach vs. (3) Forest Hill, 7 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.

District 14-7A
Favorite: West Boca.
Prediction: West Boca over Lake Worth.
Note: West Boca’s had a nice season this spring. The Bulls are kind of forgotten about, in a weak classification and stowed away with the county’s southwestern corner. They’ve played a tough schedule, but the rest of the state’s 7A teams make a state run a tall order. District should be no problem, though.

All games at Olympic Heights
(2) Lake Worth vs. (3) Atlantic, 6:30 p.m.
(1) West Boca Raton vs. (4) Olympic Heights, 6:30 p.m.
Championship game, 6:30 p.m.

District 15-5A
Favorite: Jensen Beach.
Prediction: Suncoast over Jensen Beach.
Note: I love this Suncoast team. The Chargers are getting hot at the right time. Jensen can play, obviously, but Suncoast has me thinking regional semifinals.

All games at Suncoast
(2) Suncoast vs. (3) Fort Pierce Westwood, 6 p.m.
(1) Jensen Beach vs. Suncoast/Westwood winner, 6 p.m.

District 11-4A
Favorite: Bishop Verot
Prediction: Bishop Verot over LaBelle

(5) Gateway at (4) Dunbar, 6 p.m.
Games at Clewiston
(1) Bishop Verot vs. Gateway/Dunbar winner, 5 p.m.
(2) LaBelle vs. (3) Clewiston, 7 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.

District 12-4A
Favorite: Lincoln Park.
Prediction: Lincoln Park over St. Andrew’s
Note: Lincoln Park’s been to the regional playoffs nine times, but only has five wins to show for it. This year’s team is locked and loaded, and should be a threat after winning the district title.

(3) Cardinal Newman at (2) St. Andrew’s, 4 p.m.
(4) Glades Central at (1) Lincoln Park, 6 p.m.
At Lincoln Park
Championship game, 6 p.m.

District 6-3A
Favorite: John Carroll.
Prediction: John Carroll over Holy Trinity.

All games at Melbourne Central Catholic
(2) Melbourne-Holy Trinity vs. Melbourne Central Catholic, 4 p.m.
(1) John Carroll vs. Holy Trinity/MCC winner, 4 p.m.

District 12-3A
Favorite: King’s Academy.
Prediction: King’s over Benjamin.
Note: Benjamin’s a talented bunch and will not go quietly in the district tournament, but you have to think King’s playoff experience from last season will come into play now. The Lions have been there and won at this level.

(3) Jupiter Christian at (2) Benjamin, 4 p.m.
(4) Berean Christian at (1) King’s Academy, 4 p.m.
At Benjamin
Championship game, 4 p.m.

District 13-3A
Favorite: American Heritage.
Prediction: American Heritage over Trinity Christian.
Note: American Heritage has the talent of and plays like a big school team. The Stallions have their sights set on another state championship. Trinity Christian’s had a nice run through the spring, but winning the district title’s a tall order, especially at American Heritage.

All games at American Heritage
(2) Trinity Christian vs. (3) Pope John Paul II, 7 p.m.
(1) American Heritage vs. Trinity/Pope winner, 7 p.m.

District 11-2A
Favorite: Glades Day.
Prediction: Glades Day over Wellington Christian.

All games at Vero Beach-Master’s Academy
(Seeds, specific game times not available)
Glades Day vs. Ahfachkee
Wellington Christian vs. Master’s Academy
Championship game, 4 p.m.

District 12-2A
Favorite: Grandview Prep.
Prediction: Grandview Prep over Lake Worth Christian.

All games at Lake Worth Christian
(2) Lake Worth Christian vs. (3) Boca Christian, 4 p.m.
(1) Grandview Prep vs. LWC/BC winner, 4 p.m.