Region XVI softball coaches chose to end their regular season a little earlier than planned.
The decision might have cost Three Rivers the top seed, but being second could be a blessing in disguise.
“I would rather play than have, basically, two weeks off,” Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said.
The Raiders still had two makeup games to play against North Central. Had they won both, they would have tied Crowder at 20-4 in the region standings, with Three Rivers holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. With rain in the forecast and coaches not wanting to push back Saturday’s start date for the region tournament, they chose Tuesday to end the regular season as things stood.
“Taking everything into consideration, it really was the best thing,” Null said.
As the second-seed, Three Rivers (35-4, 18-4) will host seventh-seeded Metropolitan in the first round of the tournament Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. at McLane Park in a three-game series.
“We’re focused on this weekend,” Null said. “They have a little more slower pitching and a lot of of-fspeed stuff, so we’re trying to prepare for that.”
The third game, if necessary, will be noon Sunday.
All first-round games will be played at the higher seed this year because of COVID-19. The semifinals and championship will be from May 7-9 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro.
The Raiders won all four games against Metropolitan by at least seven runs.
Kindi Puckett threw a pair of shutouts and had a combined no-hitter with Makale Floyd.
“Kindi has continued to do her thing. Makale Floyd has really stepped it up. She’s been throwing lights out the past couple of weeks, and that has given us two strong starters,” Null said. “The bullpen is well-rested.”
Metropolitan (12-30, 5-19) had one hit and two walks in nine innings against Puckett.
Floyd has developed into the team’s No. 2 starter late in the season and has won six of her past seven starts. She also had a no-hitter over four innings against East Central on April 23.
The Raiders hit 13 home runs in the series, with Lauren Joyner and Jamie Lee both hitting three and Brianna Everett hitting two.
Three Rivers enters the postseason ranked third in home runs (99), seventh in the nation in slugging percentage (.722), and 12th in team batting average (.402).
“We’ve talked throughout the year about adjusting,” Null said. “They know what to do, we just have to be disciplined enough to do it, and they’ll be alright.”
Metropolitan, meanwhile, is 139th in opponents’ batting average (.415).
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic