By Harold Abend
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
Every year at the beginning of softball season, Union City James Logan head coach Teri Johnson bemoans the fact her team is always at a disadvantage going into the tournament she plays in the Reno are due to not having as many games played as the rest of the field.
“With the NCS (North Coast Section) limiting our number of games to 24, we go to Reno with just a few games played and the other teams are way ahead of us,” mused Johnson, who entering a Friday game at Antioch Deer Valley has 534 career coaching wins since she began at Logan in 1986.
Another example is Amador Valley of Pleasanton. Despite being the No. 1 team in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings, the Dons will not have taken the field for the first time until Thursday afternoon at the Queen of the Mountain Tournament in Pleasanton.
Since the other teams in the tournament will also be opening the season or have played just a game or two, it likely won’t hurt Amador Valley, the huge favorite to win the tournament.
Where first-year head coach Teresa Borchard and her girls may feel it is at the Michelle Carew Classic at Canyon High of Anaheim on April 3-6.
By then, they’ll have the four tournament games and three additional games played before leaving for Southern California to compete against many of California’s top teams.
Most of those teams, however, will have double the number of games as Amador Valley, including the one top team from Northern California also in the field, Roseville Woodcreek, a team that already has seven games under its belt.
“In the NCS, our schools have adopted a maximum of 24 (games) for the majority of our sports,” CIFNCS Assistant Commissioner Bri Niemi wrote in an email. “The rationale from our voting board is that 24 keeps the number of games per week at a manageable level and is in line with our educational principles, which allows our student-athletes to remain in class as much as possible.
“Every section has the ability to set their own maximum number of contests,” Niemi continued. “There have been proposals at the state level recently to streamline the number of games so there is consistency amongst the sections, but unfortunately those haven’t passed.”
Here are this week’s rankings:
(After games of Wednesday, March 13; previous ranking in parenthesis)
1. (1) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 0-0
Pitcher Johanna Grauer, the Cal-Hi Sports State Sophomore of the Year for last season, and the rest of the Dons will be in the Queen of the Mountain tournament this weekend, beginning on Thursday. The tourney director happens to be former head coach Julie Marshall.
2. (10) Great Oak (Temecula) 9-0
This is where we beg to differ with other rankings that are discounting the Wolf Pack’s overall resume. The young girls from the Inland Empire are unblemished after winning the Kit Carson tournament with a victory over Bonita Vista, and they own a win over a Mater Dei team that just won the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona. That’s enough for now using our formula.
3. (3) James Logan (Union City) 3-0
The Colts stay put at No. 3 in the state after opening the season with wins against Castro Valley, Foothill of Pleasanton and Alameda.
4. (20) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 7-1
Many thought the Monarchs should have dropped out last week but as fast as things change we wanted to wait and see how they fared out in Arizona, and the girls made a name for themselves and vindicated the rankings by not only doing well but winning the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions at Mohave with a 3-1 victory in the final over Norco. Now, they make an astronomical jump 16 spots and land behind the team that dealt them their lone loss plus James Logan, which couldn’t be dropped this week because that team didn’t lose.
5. (6) Norco 5-2
The preseason No. 2 team’s loss to El Modena doesn’t look so bad now after the Cougars finished second at the TOC. Two losses right now to top-notch teams playing the best competition isn’t that bad.
6. (5) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 5-2
The Mariners lost in the TOC semis to Mater Dei and then won the third-place game over Anaheim Canyon. Up next is previous No. 12 Edison of Huntington Beach. Even though they are No. 4 in the Orange County Register rankings, we’re leaving them our preseason No. 1 team at No. 3 among those teams for the time being.
7. (8) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 6-0
The Monarchs remain unblemished and hold tight after a 6-0 shutout of Gilroy and a West Catholic Athletic League opening blowout win over crosstown host Valley Christian.
8. (9) Mission Viejo 10-1
The Diablos played eight games since the last rankings. After winning their first two games at the TOC they lost 3-1 to Norco, but they rebounded to win their last two games over Saugus and Chino Hills. This week, they already have three wins at the Laguna Hills Tournament by a 34-2 combined score.
9. (2) Santiago (Corona) 9-1
A 4-3 loss to Eastvale Roosevelt drops the Sharks seven spots this week. Although they also have a 2-1 win over Roosevelt this season as well, it’s a team that has losses to Yucaipa and Chino Don Lugo. With some of the other teams playing and doing well at the TOC and others not losing, there was no choice but to drop Santiago this week. However, this team is used to bouncing up and down the rankings each season and it’s not going to surprise us if they end up near the top.
10. (NR) Marina (Huntington Beach) 5-0
The Vikings weren’t on the radar screen at the start of the season, but they are undefeated and have moved up to No. 3 in the Orange County Register rankings. In the five wins, Marina has outscored opponents 34-4, and has a win over a Kennedy of La Palma team that just handed preseason No. 12 Edison of Huntington Beach a second loss, and a 13-0 shellacking of preseason No. 19 Orange Lutheran.
11. (18) Cypress 8-0
The Centurion girls are proving the win over Esperanza in the title game of their tournament was not a fluke, with the unbeaten streak continuing last week with two wins over Newport Harbor (Newport Beach) and a win over Cerritos Gahr this week by a 16-0 combined score.
12. (7) Esperanza (Anaheim) 5-1
The Aztecs did not play last week, but since it’s early in the season we’ll take the chance to re-position them in this week’s rankings behind the Cypress team they have lost to. Esperanza plays against Saturday against Irvine.
13. (16) El Diamante (Visalia) 6-1
This team only played one game last week and beat Clovis with Rylie Pierce going deep twice in a 5-1 victory. It was the sophomore slugger’s reported state co-leading sixth home run of the season. With teams above them losing, the top-ranked team from the CIF Central Section gets back four of the spots it lost last week. That loss also came when the team was not at full strength.
14. (17) Sheldon (Sacramento) 4-0
The Huskies beat Lodi this week in the only game they played since the last rankings, but we’ll get an indication of how good they are and what veteran head coach Mary Jo Truesdale has in her arsenal when they play this week in the Queen of the Mountain tournament in the East Bay.
15. (NR) Poly (Riverside) 9-1
The No. 4 team from the Inland Empire breaks into the rankings on the strength of the fact its only loss is 2-1 to Santiago and it owns some very good wins, including a 5-0 shutout of a Yucaipa team that pinned a loss on the Roosevelt team that just beat Santiago.
16. (NR) Vintage (Napa) 6-0
It’s a little early to move any newcomer way up for one win, but the way the Crushers put the crunch on previous No. 4 Woodcreek in a 6-0 victory in the championship game of the Victory Tournament, it’s too hard to overlook, particularly with Woodcreek being one of only two teams from Northern California invited to the prestigious Michelle Carew Classic. Vintage sitting at 6-0 doesn’t hurt, either, and we also know that Napa/Solano county softball can be very good with numerous players in the state record book.
17. (4) Woodcreek (Roseville) 7-1
The Timberwolves lost their first game to streaking Vintage so they have to drop for now to a position just behind the Crushers, who themselves are unbeaten. Despite the loss, veteran head coach Art Banks will no doubt have the girls ready to make some noise at the Michelle Carew Classic and they could get back some lost ground.
18. (13) Chino Hills 9-3
Coach Mike Southworth’s squad lost at the TOC to Las Vegas Centennial and Cienega of Vail, Ariz., neither of whom did that well. There was a win, though, over state-ranked El Modena so the drop this week was not completely out of the top 20. Consideration was given to Manteca Sierra for this spot and that team should break in if they continue winning.
19. (19) Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 4-1-1
The Barons have a tie with Carlsbad on their resume, but their lone loss is in the Kit Carson title game to No. 2 Great Oak in a 3-2 setback. They still hold fast here and as the top team from the CIF San Diego Section.
20. (15) El Modena (Orange) 5-2
We will slot the Vanguards right behind the Chino Hills team they loss to at the TOC. They also still have a win over Norco and another quality win against Saugus. Consideration was given to Manteca Sierra for this spot and that team should break in if it continues winning.
Teams That Dropped Out
Previous No. 11 San Benito (Hollister), No. 12 Edison (Huntington Beach), No. 14 Los Alamitos.
Teams on the Bubble
Alhambra (Martinez) 0-0, Canyon (Anaheim) 5-2, California (San Ramon) 0-0, Carlmont (Belmont) 5-1, Chino 3-2, Central (Fresno) 4-1, Colton 1-1, Edison (Huntington Beach) 1-2, El Capitan (Lakeside) 0-2, Elk Grove 4-4, Foothill (Santa Ana) 4-2, Frontier (Bakersfield) 10-0, Gilroy 6-1, Heritage (Brentwood) 2-0, Kennedy (La Palma) 2-3, Lakewood 4-2, Los Alamitos 4-3, Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 4-1, Lutheran (Orange) 7-4, Notre Dame (Salinas) 2-1, Petaluma 1-1, Roosevelt (Eastvale) 7-3, San Benito (Hollister) 1-1, Saugus 6-4, Sierra (Manteca) 7-0, Soquel 5-1, Torrey Pines (San Diego) 3-1-2, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 1-1, Valencia 6-3, Wheatland 11-0-1.
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