Elevated to Division I status for the first time this season, El Diamante High's softball team is showing it belongs in the Central Section's elite playoff bracket.
Hanford West, meanwhile, could be in for a postseason promotion next year the way it has handled some of the section's top programs.
The Miners and Huskies – rivals from the West Yosemite League – make up half of the final four of the Clovis Easter Softball Classic after completing 4-0 runs through their respective pools Monday at the Buchanan Softball Complex.
El Diamante faces Ridgeview at 3 p.m. today on Field 2, while Hanford West takes on Frontier at the same time on Field 1 for berths in the 5 p.m. final, which will be played on Field 1.
"We want to make an impact," said El Diamante coach Travis Roebuck, whose team has been a D-II power, reaching the section final three of the past four years. "We've been moved to Division I and we're here to compete."
The Miners (18-4) did just that Monday, beating Sanger 5-3 in six innings behind Sierra Hyland's grand slam and RBI double, then holding off Tri-River Athletic Conference-leading Clovis West 2-1 to win Pool D.
Hyland also played a big role against Clovis West, ripping a first-inning RBI single to back her five-hitter on the mound. Hyland escaped a jam in the bottom of the sixth, getting pinch-hitter Julia Zuniga on a called third strike on the outside corner with the tying run at third base.
"Usually, we get knocked out of this tournament," Hyland said. "We're trying to better ourselves and prove we can play with anyone."
Bria Kennedy drove Hanford West (15-3) into the semifinals when she hit a full-count pitch to the fence in right-center for a three-run triple in the bottom of the fourth inning that rallied the Huskies past Central 7-5.
"I had to get a hit or [the next batter] Breanna Young had to get a hit," Kennedy said. "We had to score that run. We want to show we're the big dogs."
Central jumped ahead in the first inning on Marla Reiter's three-run home run, but the Huskies battled back to win Pool C. Hanford West earlier defeated Redwood 12-2, getting a single, double, triple and four RBIs from Karsyn Guzman.
"They played great today," said Hanford West coach Jeff Harger, whose team remains in D-III after winning that division's past two titles. "They could have quit down 3-0, but they didn't let down."
Frontier and Ridgeview reached the semifinals by going 4-0 through Pools A and B, respectively. The Wolf Pack was a surprise semifinalist, knocking off defending D-I runner-up Buchanan 7-6 in pool play.