Lincoln senior Keegan Wallen delivers a pitch against Lodi during a Tri-City Athletic League baseball game in April at Zupo Field. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD
Here they are, my final edition of high school baseball and softball power rankings for The Record’s coverage area in spring 2016. Playoffs are here, and in other sports, as well, so that’s where my focus rests.
These are nearly mirror images of last week’s rankings. The only change comes in large-school baseball. Manteca falls down a spot after losing its season-ending series to rival East Union, though the Buffaloes did clinch an outright Valley Oak League championship. Tri-City Athletic League runner-up Lincoln, the No. 4 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I south playoffs, moves up to second.
While East Union, the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion, has been the obvious top dog in my large-school Prep Softball Power Rankings, the bottom three teams in the top five have shuffled early and often.
St. Mary’s and Tracy have flip-flopped, for sure, and it’s happened again. Tracy has finished its Tri-City Athletic league slate at 12-3, and has the head-to-head tiebreaker over St. Mary’s (11-3 TCAL), which West beat 7-1 at Arnaiz Softball Complex last week.
Here’s a look at the power rankings entering the final week of the regular season for large schools (SJAA, TCAL, VOL) and small schools (MLL, TVL, SL, CCAA) in The Record’s coverage area:
1. East Union (1) 20-0, 12-0 VOL
The explanation: The Lancers’ toughest test, and their most-likely regular-season loss (emphasis on most likely, I’m not saying likely) comes tomorrow. Oakdale hosts East Union at 4 p.m., in a chance to split the Valley Oak League title. Odds are, the Mustangs are stewing over losing 5-4 on a walk-off, three-run home run from Lancers catcher Alejandra Rascon (see below) last time around. Castro update: East Union senior Michelle Castro is batting .614 with eight home runs, 20 extra-base hits overall, 25 RBI out of the leadoff spot and 15 stolen bases.
2. Sierra (2) 13-4, 10-4 VOL
The explanation: Sierra, the reigning section Division IV champion, is in great shape at another title run, and has a good shot whether it’s in Div. III or IV. Both of its match-ups with rival East Union have been incredibly tight and hard-fought. Timberwolves sophomore pitcher Lindsey Walljasper is 10-3 with a 0.58 ERA, and is batting .467.
3. Tracy (4) 18-5, 12-3 TCAL
The explanation: Tracy has made it through the brutal TCAL gauntlet, where even fifth-place Tokay is dangerous and has multiple NCAA Division I players, and owns the top playoff seed from the league. Sophomore shortstop Rachel Cid, a reigning first-team All-Area infielder for The Record, is batting .492 with 18 extra-base hits and 31 RBI. She’s an Oregon verbal commit, the same program where East Union graduate Cherish Burks, a first-team All-Area outfielder last year, is playing.
4. St. Mary’s (3) 13-8, 11-3 TCAL
The explanation: St. Mary’s can salvage a technical share of a league title by beating Tokay at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Arnaiz Stadium. The won’t be easy, as Tokay just beat a solid team in Lodi twice. Seniors Taylor Mamola and Hannah Russell have quietly produced outstanding power-hitting seasons for the Rams. Mamola is batting .400 with 13 extra-base hits and 24 RBI, and Russell, a Santa Clara commit, is batting .400 with 11 extra-base hits and a team-high 29 RBI.
T5. West (5) 14-9, 8-7 TCAL
T5. Lodi (NR) 11-9, 8-7 TCAL
The explanation: Both of these squads have quality wins, as West has beaten St. Mary’s, Tracy and Lodi. Lodi took two of three against West, but West finished its league slate in stronger fashion, so the two can share this spot. Lodi owns the third and final playoff spot from the TCAL since it has the head-to-head over West.
St. Mary's outfielder Ramil Pinzon takes a hack against Tokay in an April game at Zupo Field in Lodi. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2016
The St. Mary’s baseball team has a long road ahead in chasing its eighth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South championship. But the Rams, who began at No. 2, have reached the final Prep Baseball Power Rankings of the regular season in the top spot.
St. Mary’s can pitch, led by senior ace Isaiah Bettencourt, it can hit, led by the potent bats of Jarron Silva, Dillon Tatum and Christian Almanza, among others, and it plays solid defense.
Here’s a look at the top five lists for large schools (TCAL, SJAA, VOL) and small schools (MLL, TVL, SL, CCAA) in The Record’s coverage area.
1. St. Mary’s (1) 16-10, 13-1 TCAL
The explanation: St. Mary’s is 5-1 against the teams on this list, after taking two of three against Tracy, and its first two games against rival Lincoln. Lincoln hosts the series finale at 4 p.m. Monday after their Friday game was rained out.
St. Mary’s, Lincoln, Tracy and Lodi have clinched the Tri-City Athletic League’s four playoff bids. Speaking of the TCAL, St. Mary’s is an outright league champion for the first time in four years, and the first time in coach Rob Selna’s tenure.
2. Manteca (2) 18-5, 10-1 VOL
The explanation: Modesto-Central Catholic (7-4 Valley Oak League) has given Manteca (18-5, 10-1) its lone VOL loss. Yet, the Buffaloes can clinch a share of the league title, and the top playoff seed from it, by beating East Union at 4 p.m. Monday, and win it outright by beating Kimball at 4 p.m. Tuesday, both on the road.
3. Lincoln (3) 13-13, 9-5 TCAL
The explanation: Lincoln likely needs to salvage the final game of its series against St. Mary’s to hold onto second-place in the TCAL, and earn a better playoff seed. This team can pitch and defend, but will need the middle of its order to step up come playoff time, to score enough runs to compete with not only St. Mary’s and Tracy, but teams like Modesto-Beyer (MMC) or Turlock (CCC).
4. Tracy (4) 19-7, 9-5 TCAL
The explanation: Tracy has the talent and starting pitching to be not just the divisional, but the section champion. But this team has to catch fire at the right time, as it did last year as a No. 4 seed. It’ll be fascinating to see where Tracy is seeded, especially if it’s the third-place finisher, but from the obvious strongest league (TCAL) in Div. I South.
5. Bear Creek (5) 18-6-1, 12-1 SJAA
The explanation: McNair may come for this spot in the regular-season capping rankings, should it win their regular-season finale at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bear Creek. Keep your eyes this postseason on junior starting pitcher Nick Prum, who threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout against Bear Creek in a 1-0 victory on Thursday.
East Union junior Mikayla Bongi pitches against Manteca in a Valley Oak League softball game earlier this season at Manteca High. East Union won 11-6. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD
The East Union softball team (20-0, 12-0 Valley Oak League), is rolling through VOL play yet again, and have sparkled in big moments this season, like with Alejandra Rascon’s walk-off home run against Oakdale, and the Lancers’ extra-inning win at rival Sierra.
Sure, East Union has the star power, like senior first baseman Michelle Castro, who’s batting .614 with eight home runs, 25 RBI (Out of the LEADOFF spot), 20 extra-base hits total, an on-base percentage of .630, a slugging percentage of 1.185 and thus a supernatural OPS of 1.816.
But the Lancers also have depth. Junior pitchers Mikayla Bongi and Delaney Pamplin are both 10-0, Pamplin has a 0.15 earned run average and Bongi has a 0.70 ERA. East Union has outscored its opponents 148-20.
An outright Tri-City Athletic League championship and an ascension in the latest NorCal rankings have highlighted the past couple weeks for the ever-potent St. Mary’s baseball team.
The top of The Record’s coverage area’s high school softball crop is playing at an unreal level. On Tuesday, it was as if multiple players were vying to become our All-Area MVP… a month early.
Sierra sophomore Lindsey Walljasper fired a perfect game against Valley Oak League and intra-city rival Manteca, an excellent hitting team, mind you, in a 2-0 win. And East Union senior Michelle Castro ripped not one, not two, but three home runs in a VOL rout of Modesto-Central Catholic.
Castro and East Union, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions, are still unbeaten and an obvious No. 1 in my latest power rankings for large and small schools in the area.
1. East Union (1) 18-0, 10-0 VOL
The explanation: East Union, which has already swept its VOL series from rival Sierra, will be up against it in its regular-season finale on May 10 at Oakdale. But for now, the Lancers are on a 21-game winning streak overall and a 25-game winning streak in VOL play. Castro is now batting over .600 with eight home runs. Those eight HRs are tied for 13th best in the state, tied for seventh-best in NorCal and she’s surpassed Millennium’s Mila Rodriguez (six HRs) as the San Joaquin County leader, as of 7 p.m. Tuesday.
2. Sierra (2) 11-3, 8-3 VOL
The explanation: Walljasper’s perfect game would’ve been impressive no matter what, but to come against a rival, once which often mercy-rules lesser teams with a deep and potent offense, is just incredible. Sierra has knocked on the door against East Union both times they’ve played, but have just missed. Last time, Sierra took East Union eight innings before losing 4-3.
3. Tracy (3) 15-4, 9-2 TCAL
The explanation: The Bulldogs are tied with St. Mary’s in the Tri-City Athletic League loss column, but won the three-game set two games to one, and own the tiebreaker with the Rams. Tracy has another All-Area Player of the Year candidate in sophomore shortstop Rachel Cid. Cid, who was the first-team third baseman last year, is batting .444 with 15 extra-base hits and 21 RBI.
4. St. Mary’s (4) 10-7, 8-2 TCAL
The explanation: The Rams, who boast wins over Tracy, West, Lodi and, most importantly, highly-ranked San Jose-Archbishop Mitty, are keeping on the Bulldogs’ heels and have a great chance to still win the TCAL title shared or outright. Especially because Tracy must face rival West this week, a dangerous, deep team.
5. Lodi (5) 9-8, 6-6 TCAL
The explanation: Though Tokay upset rival Lodi tonight, the Flames still won their series with West and upset Tracy in one of their matchups. The pitching duo of Danielle Pfennig and Shelby Featherston is pivotal to Lodi’s playoff hopes.
Tracy baseball's Brett Mansell slides into second base safely against St. Mary's second baseman Tyler Lozano during their Tri-CIty Athletic League baseball game Monday at St. Mary's High in Stockton. St. Mary's won the game 5-2 and the series 2-1. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD
The Lincoln baseball team, though it may not want to hear it, is having a similar season to rival St. Mary’s.
After the Class of 2014-15, both of their rosters were supposed to be ravaged. It was Tracy’s time to reign over the Tri-City Athletic League, returning the vast majority of a squad that was Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South runner-up. Tracy is still very much in the mix, but St. Mary’s is on top for now, and Lincoln is on the rise.
Lincoln beat Tracy 1-0 on Monday via a walk-off single from Joseph Chalco and a complete-game shutout from pitcher Keegan Wallen, and ascends in my latest Prep Baseball Power Rankings for large schools. The top five for small schools is identical to a week ago.
1. ST. MARY’S (1) 12-10, 9-1 TCAL
The explanation: This team just does not get fazed. Tracy led St. Mary’s 11-2 in the fifth inning on Friday in Stockton, on the verge of forcing a first-place tie atop the TCAL and earning the tiebreaker with St. Mary’s should they end even in the standings. But the Rams rallied back furiously, capped with a bases-clearing, walk-off triple from Jarron Silva, who tore around third and scored on a throwing error. The all-around play of Silva, the bat of sophomore first baseman Christian Almanza and the pitching of senior righty Isaiah Bettencourt fuel these Rams.
2. MANTECA (3) 15-4, 7-0 VOL
The explanation: In a season full of parity for the Valley Oak League, the Buffaloes have managed to stay unscathed thus far, and have swept key series against Oakdale and Sierra. Manteca has also beaten area teams like Lincoln and McNair, keeping them high in these power rankings. Ronaldo Tijero, a first-team All-Area football player, may be well on his way to a first-team All-Area baseball campaign.
3. LINCOLN (4) 12-10, 8-2 TCAL
The explanation: The Trojans don’t have the powerful bats of a year ago, or the experience but they have an exceptional defense — as they showed on Monday with catcher Zach Morgan throwing out two runners, Chalco gunning down a runner at home plate from center field and shortstop Dez Gaines tracking down a difficult pop-up. Wallen is a pensive, incredibly smart presence atop the rotation, and Jordan Olson has been raking and pitching quite well for the Trojans. No matter what, Lincoln will be competing for at least a share of a TCAL title next week in its three-game set with St. Mary’s.
4. TRACY (2) 16-6, 6-4 TCAL
The explanation: Tracy still has an excellent chance to win the section’s Division I South, and in fact, I’d say that’s more likely than winning the TCAL given their brutal past nine days or so. Reason to keep faith in the Bulldogs: they’re experienced, their lineup is balanced and the rotation of seniors Noah Denoyer and Thomas Greely and junior Cody Bolton is unrivaled in this area.
5. BEAR CREEK (5) 14-5-1, 8-0 SJAA
The explanation: Bruins coach Peter Pijl, the former longtime St. Mary’s coach, has done an excellent job in his return to high school baseball. Bear Creek has won eight consecutive games, and has outscored its San Joaquin Athletic Association opponents by a combined 86-18. That’s an average score of 11-2. Wow. Huge series: Bear Creek and second-place McNair square off in a three-game set next week. Bear Creek hosts McNair on Tuesday and Friday, and McNair entertains Bear Creek on Tuesday, all set for 4 p.m.
St. Mary's guard Mi'Cole Cayton, left, has de-committed from Nebraska women's basketball. RECORD FILE PHOTO
The bad news: St. Mary’s senior guard Mi’Cole Cayton was ecstatic to play for Nebraska women’s basketball and longtime coach Connie Yori. But Yori has resigned for what she called personal reasons, likely after being accused of mistreating her players and creating a negative culture, leaving Cayton devastated, according to ESPN.com. Cayton has been granted a partial release from the Cornhuskers as a result so she can weight her options.
The good news: Cayton is an excellent NCAA Division I college basketball player in waiting, and will have her choice of terrific programs. Cayton, a three-time first-team All-Area guard, is considered the No. 80 prospect in the class of 2016, according to ESPN. And, according to that same story, Cayton has drawn interest from Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Rutgers, San Diego State, UCLA and Utah.
Check back with The Record, stocktonpreps.com and recordnet.com/sportsblog for more on this story.
East Union softball's Samantha Owen (right) turns a double play in an extra-innings win on April 16, 2015 at Sierra. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2015
Brian Goulart has seen a long string of exceptional softball players in his 15 years as East Union coach.
Michelle Castro, though, may be having the best season he’s seen.
Goulart declared that after a recent win at Manteca. And Castro, a commit to William Penn in Iowa, is certainly backing him up with phenomenal play.
Castro leads off my first All-Area Softball Player of the Year Watchlist for 2016. Castro’s teammate, senior shortstop Sam Owen, is The Record’s reigning MVP.
MICHELLE CASTRO (East Union 1B, Sr.)
Castro is up into the stratosphere now, batting .600 with four home runs, seven doubles, two triples and 14 RBI. Those 14 RBI are even more impressive because she’s the lead-off hitter, and has 12 stolen bases. Goulart said her defensive play is top-notch as well.
HANNAH RUSSELL (St. Mary’s C, Sr.)
Russell, a senior bound for Santa Clara softball, a West Coast Conference opponent of Pacific, is still plenty driven. The reigning All-Area first-team catcher is batting .375 with two homers, two triples and four doubles, and is an excellent backstop for the Rams. She’s also quite patient at the plate, and boasts a .483 on-base percentage.
SAM OWEN (East Union SS, Sr.)
Though Owen isn’t posting the same power numbers as she did in her award-winning 2015, probably partially because other sluggers in that lineup in Cherish Burks (Oregon softball) and Alexis Erich (injured) aren’t next to her. But Owen is still batting .523 with three homers, seven doubles and a co-team-high 17 RBI (with catcher Alejandra Rascon). She’s heading to Pacific softball and longtime coach Brian Kolze next year.
HAIGHLEY KISSEE (Manteca P, Jr.)
Kissee is absolutely pivotal to the Buffaloes, and is smashing her way to a .556 batting average with 13 doubles, a triple and 19 RBI. In the circle, Kissee is 13-6 with a 1.77 ERA, with 19 complete games, 142 strikeouts and 30 walks.
SAIGE PYE (Bear Creek IF, Jr.)
Pye is slugging her way to what could be a third consecutive first-team All-Area season. The Georgia Tech verbal commit, who played for St. Mary’s as a freshman before transferring to Bear Creek as a sophomore, is batting .582 with seven home runs, six doubles, four triples and 23 RBI. Her OPS is an unearthly 1.889. Pye has 22 home runs through parts of three varsity seasons, which is tied for 26th all-time in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports record book, which is a couple years old. Crazily enough, an area player is tied for the all-time record. That’s Elliot Christian’s Kaila Shull, who blasted 45 homers from 2003-2006, tied with San Pedro’s Perelini Koria, who did it from 2005-2008. If Pye hits a few more this year, it wouldn’t be surprising if she pushed the mid 30s.
KAYLA KAPPMEYER (Calaveras P/1B, Jr.)
Kappmeyer kick-starts the Redskins lineup, dominating her way to a .508 average, three triples, eight doubles and a team-high 29 RBI. While her ERA isn’t flashy, at 4.39, she’s a solid pitcher in the circle and is 10-2 with four complete games.
LINDSEY WALLJASPER (Sierra P, So.)
Walljasper is the ace of the Timberwolves, sure, at 8-2 in the circle with eight completes games and a 0.79. But Walljasper, younger sister of LSU pitcher Allie Walljasper, can rake: batting .471 with one triple, two homers and three doubles for the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champions.
HAILEY MARTIN (West IF, Sr.)
Martin, a returning first-team All-Area selection, has team-highs with eight doubles and 24 RBI, and has a .433 batting average. The Wolf Pack is a dangerous team, especially offensively, and though it is fourth in the TCAL race, it is far from out of earning an automatic playoff bid (top three TCAL teams do).
MIKAYLA COELHO (Tracy P, Jr.)
Coelho is the Bulldogs cleanup hitter, and justifies that spot by batting .457 with six extra-base hits and nine RBI, and in the circle, is 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA and five complete games.
CARLEY MORFEY (St. Mary’s P, So.)
Morfey is often the only pitcher St. Mary’s uses, except for when Kiana Parrish threw a six-inning complete game against Lodi on Tuesday, and is 7-7 with a 3.88 ERA, but with 13 complete games. Those numbers don’t reflect her skill, as she’s faced some incredible competition, and also, has been battling a bad back. But she’s on her because she also hits the ball quite well, at .362 with five doubles and 12 RBI.
RACHEL CID (Tracy SS, So.)
Cid is such a feared hitter, that St. Mary’s walked her three times in their most recent meeting. Cid, the defending All-Area first-team third baseman, is batting .438 with two triples, three home runs and eight doubles with a team-high 20 RBI. Her 1.423 OPS (on-base plus slugging) is jaw-droppingly high.
MARISA PETERS (Linden P, Sr.)
Peters is the ace for the Lions, they of MLL and Sac-Joaquin Section championship dreams, and is 15-3 with a 2.32 ERA, nine complete games and 123 strikeouts. She’s also wielding the bat quite well, hitting .477 with seven extra-base hits and 13 RBI.
DEVI COGLIO (Sierra 3B, Sr.)
Coglio, a key member of last year’s section championship run, is pummeling the softball. She’s batting .405 with two homers, three doubles and three triples and has six stolen bases and a phenomenal OPS of 1.287.
MORE NAMES TO WATCH
Taylor Ward, East Union
Taylor Mamola, St. Mary’s
Alanda Cardon, Calaveras
Danielle Pfennig, Lodi
Janae Sims, West
Bradi Kooyman, Elliot Christian
Jenna Nauta, Franklin
Danielle Sperry, Ripon*
Christina Martinez, Stagg
Julianna DeAnda, Sierra
Alejandra Rascon, East Union
Shelby Featherston, Lodi
Cierra Hylton, Tracy
Delaney Pamplin, East Union
Jenna Schneider, Tokay
Alex Preston, St. Mary’s
Taya Escalante, Linden
Kendelle Messersmith, Sierra
Korina Krueg, Tokay
*No statistics on MaxPreps.com so I had nothing to use to consider her for the main list.
Note: Linden’s Carly Lucchetti is batting a hand injury currently, and wouldn’t been mentioned on here if not for that injury. She has been phenomenal, batting .638 with five extra-base hits, 23 stolen bases and 11 RBI.
High school baseball home runs were already hard enough to come by.
As boys, not yet men physically, learn to hit with power, they don’t start parking the ball over the fence overnight. Especially now that the bats are weaker than they used to be.
In May of 2009, the NCAA sought to take away the unbelievable power of the old aluminum bats. Now, new bats that fit the BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) are used. (No, I have no idea how to calculate BBCOR or what it really means. All we know, is that aluminum bats in high school and college are weaker, and the “ping” sound has been replaced with something akin to a high-pitched “thud”).
So, it’s absolutely amazing what Tracy junior Lee Brewer is doing. Brewer, the Bulldogs’ everyday third baseman and leadoff hitter, is tied for second in the state and tied for first in Northern California with seven home runs this season. Couple that with his four homers from an injury-shortened sophomore campaign, and Brewer’s 11 career long bombs are three behind the Tracy High record of 14.
Brewer is one of several players who have put together excellent campaigns, and are on the radar for The Record’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year award. Here’s a brief look at each, with some more names to watch.
LEE BREWER (Tracy 3B, Jr.)
Brewer is not only hitting for power, but contact. The kid who might have the best baseball name I’ve heard in a long time, is batting .440 with seven doubles and 22 RBI, with a .613 on-base percentage and a more-than-Ruthian 1.000 slugging percentage.
JARRON SILVA (St. Mary’s OF, Sr.)
Silva was never worried. Not when the senior, UCLA baseball commit and first-team All-Area center fielder was hitting below .250 earlier in the year. Silva has been scalding of late, up to .333 with seven extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases. He’s lightning fast and has a rocket arm in center field.
RONALDO TIJERO (Manteca OF, Sr.)
As I wrote in my weekly column, Tijero has the chance to be the first player in my time at The Record to be first-team football and baseball. Last year, former teammate Dom Pisano was first-team football and second-team baseball. Tijero has the most pop of any Buffalo, on the team that leads the Valley Oak League by three games, batting .385 with four triples, six doubles and 23 RBI, and is showing off that wide receiver speed with 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts.
ZACK MATHIS (Bear Creek SS, Sr.)
When first-year Pacific baseball coach Mike Neu came to town, he and his staff had to analyze former coach Ed Sprague’s incoming recruiting class for 2016, and decide which recruits to keep. Mathis, who can truly hit, has speed and can field, was a player they were happy to keep. He was an honorable mention All-Area baseball pick last season, and is a key reason why Bear Creek sits atop the San Joaquin Athletic Association.
THOMAS GREELY (Tracy 2B/P, Sr.)
Greely was a spot starter as a junior pitcher, but has dazzled for the Bulldogs of late. He’s thrown two consecutive complete-game victories, including a 5-0 win against St. Mary’s on Wednesday, and is 6-0 with a 1.17 ERA. Not to mention, Greely is batting .333 with five extra-base hits and 10 RBI. Not many of the top pitchers in the region can rake, too, and Greely certainly can, which is why he’s a contender here.
NICK CHAPMAN (McNair, Sr.)
McNair is a game behind Bear Creek, thanks in large part to the contact hitting and speed of Chapman. He’s batting .481 with five doubles and 14 RBI, with a disgusting (in a good way) OPS of 1.205. Chapman also has five stolen bases.
ANTHONY LUCCHETTI (Linden IF, Sr.)
Lucchetti is a centerpiece of a resurgent Lions team, one which leads the Mother Lode League by one game over Argonaut. The Linden infielder is batting .421 with two triples, six doubles and 23 RBI, with a team-high 17 stolen bases, and is 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in seven pitching appearances.
MARCO GONZALES (East Union IF/P, Sr.)
Gonzales has been one of the VOL’s and the area’s most underrated players since he was a junior. The Lancers’ ace is 5-1 with a 1.79 ERA and five complete games, averaging one strikeout per inning. Oh, and he’s an excellent hitter, too, batting .391 with five doubles.
CHRISTIAN ALMANZA (St. Mary’s 1B, So.)
While Silva’s dominance was expected, the lefty Almanza burst onto the varsity scene quickly. The Rams’ cleanup hitter is batting a team-high .353, with eight extra-base hits and 12 RBI. His maturity as an underclassman batter is very, very high, and he’s mastered the lost art of driving the ball to the opposite field. Especially for a young hitter, the ability to watch a pitch well into the strike zone and tag it the other way is key.
JORDAN OLSON (Lincoln OF/P, Sr.)
Olson is a critical reasons why the Trojans are 6-2 in Tri-City Athletic League play, and along with Tracy, one game behind St. Mary’s (7-1 TCAL) in the standings. The Lincoln senior is 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA in four starts on the mound, and is batting .304 with a homer, a triple and five doubles.
Junior pitcher Delaney Pamplin is a big reason why the East Union softball team is 16-0. RECORD FILE 2015
Nothing seems to faze the East Union softball team.
The Lancers (16-0, 8-0 Valley Oak League), the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions, are ranked 11th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, 48th in the nation via MaxPreps’ computer rankings and are on a 19-game winning streak dating to last May.
East Union stunned Oakdale with a walk-off, three-run home run from Alejandra Rascon last week, and Tuesday at Sierra, won in eight innings via a three-run top of the eighth.
In short, East Union is an obvious No. 1 in my latest Prep Softball Power Rankings, with a top five for large and small schools in The Record’s coverage area.
1. EAST UNION (1) 16-0, 8-0 VOL
The explanation: Though Oakdale and Sierra are very close to East Union, the Lancers are ultra-confident in pressure-filled situations. Michelle Castro, the senior first baseman and leadoff hitter, is having what coach Brian Goulart called one of the best seasons ever for an East Union position player: batting .596 with four homers, six doubles, two triples, 14 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Dates to watch: Oakdale hosts East Union at 4 p.m. on May 10 in their regular-season finale.
2. SIERRA (2) 10-3, 7-3 VOL
The explanation: Sierra has been right on East Union’s heels both times they’ve played, and is one of the most underrated teams in The Record’s coverage area given what their crosstown rival has done. Sophomore Lindsey Walljasper has had an excellent follow-up to being first-team All-Area as a freshman, batting .471 with six extra-base hits and 11 RBI, and in the circle, she’s 8-3 with nine complete games. Before the East Union loss, her ERA was a miniscule 0.79.
3. TRACY (4) 14-4, 8-2 TCAL
The explanation: The Bulldogs have already won their TCAL series against St. Mary’s, and thus own the tiebreaker despite being even in the loss column in the league standings. Rachel Cid, the Bulldogs’ No. 3 hitter, is another returning first-team All-Area selection, and is so feared that St. Mary’s walked her three times in their most recent game. Cid is batting .438 with 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBI.
4. ST. MARY’S (3) 9-7, 7-2 TCAL
The explanation: St. Mary’s got back on track by routing Lodi by 10 runs in six innings Tuesday on the road, impressive given Lodi has handled West and beat Tracy earlier this season. Even more impressive, St. Mary’s won without usual pitcher Carley Morfey on the mound, showing some versatility even against quality competition. Six of St. Mary’s usual starters are batting above .300.
5. LODI (5) 9-6, 6-4 TCAL
The explanation: Lodi has still earned its spot with the big dogs, despite a rough outing against St. Mary’s. The Flames are powered by sophomore pitcher Shelby Featherston, who’s 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA. Coach Michelle Guardado has overseen quite an improvement in one year, after Lodi went 1-14 in TCAL play last spring.
Bob Highfill has been with The Record sports department since 1990. He started as a part-time reporter/agate clerk then covered the high school sports beat before taking on the Pacific athletics beat. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob was ... Read Full
Linesburgh has been a member of The Record's sports department since 1988. A native of Wantagh, N.Y., he covers the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, and has spent more than a quarter century reporting various other sports on the high ... Read Full
Lawrence became a prep and general assignment sports reporter for The Record in August 2014. He has covered high school, college and professional sports and more in his career. From November of 2011 through summer 2014, he covered college and prep ... Read Full