If the Class 4A state tournament softball field looks a bit familiar, it should.
Foothill, Shadow Ridge and Reed made up three-quarters of last year’s tournament.
They’ll be joined this year not by Spanish Springs, which won the last two state crowns or McQueen, which won the two before that, but by Centennial.
The Bulldogs will make their first trip to state since 2004, when they became the only Southern Nevada team to win the Class 4A softball title.
“It feels really good because I know what it feels like to get there, and I wanted so bad for these girls to feel that,” said Bulldogs coach Mike Livreri. “I know they’ve worked hard and they deserve it. We’ve been close before but couldn’t quite do it.”
Centennial (27-9) will meet Sunrise Region champion Foothill (28-11) on Friday at 4 p.m. Sunset Region champ Shadow Ridge (26-10) faces Northern Region champion Reed (34-5) also at 4 p.m. on Friday. The double-elimination tournament is being held at Majestic Park.
“The underdog always gets a lot of support, so I’m hoping that will help us,” said Centennial senior third baseman Brandy Thaw.
The Bulldogs pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind 6-5 win over Green Valley in the play-in game Monday to qualify for the tournament.
“It gives us a big confidence boost,” Livreri said. “We’ve had a couple of those recently.”
Centennial has seven seniors, but none has played in a state tournament softball game. The other three teams in the field have experience on which to draw. Shadow Ridge and Foothill each is making its third straight trip to state.
“It could help the other teams that are there, but it shouldn’t hinder us too much,” Livreri said. “We’ve been in too many close games, and we’ve got veteran ballplayers. We’re going to come in playing pretty free.”
And Centennial may have the most dangerous lineup of the four teams.
The Bulldogs boast plenty of power, especially from the bats of seniors Katie Lee, Johnna Brown, Juelaine Noa and Thaw, and junior Lindsay Konopelko.
“We just focus on playing the game,” said Thaw, who had the winning two-run single in the seventh inning of Monday’s play-in victory.
All four teams will play twice Friday with the championship game scheduled for Saturday.