The Sac-Joaquin Section baseball playoffs are less than a month away, and the pool of candidates for The Record’s All-Area Player of the Year is slowly becoming clearer.
Take a look at a few of the names involved. Keep in mind, The Record gives the benefit to the most successful teams in the area, which you’ll see reflected in our All-Area teams and often in our award choices.
CODY BOLTON (Tracy RHP, senior)
Bolton, a right-handed ace who’s headed to the University of Michigan, is 5-1 with a 0.63 earned run average. He has 45 strikeouts this season, and ironically one of his top performances came in a 1-0 loss to Sacramento-area power El Dorado Hills-Oak Ridge. Bolton has been on the past two All-Area squads as a first-team selection.
CHRISTIAN ALMANZA (St. Mary’s 1B, junior)
Almanza, a talented left-handed hitter, could’ve scuffled with the departure of All-Area Player of the Year Jarron Silva, who’s at UCLA, and catcher Dillon Tatum, who’s been injured. Instead, Almanza is batting .574 with 10 extra-base hits and 16 RBI, touting an OPS of 1.533.
NATE GEORGE (Tracy 2B, senior)
George is a staple in the Bulldogs’ potent lineup, batting .477 with 10 extra-base hits, including four home runs, and a team-high 19 RBI.
WILL SCHAFF (Tracy RHP, junior)
Schaff has been superb in his first turn as a varsity starter, and is 6-0 with a 0.50 ERA. Even more impressively, he has 35 strikeouts to just two walks all season. Strike-throwing will be critical come playoff time: it’s good to have a guy like Schaff.
JACOB STANDRIDGE (Bear Creek RHP, senior)
Standridge has continued to be the Bruins’ intelligent ace, and hits in the middle of the order as well. Bear Creek does not have statistics posted on MaxPreps, but Standridge got the win pitching and went 3 for 3 with a double in a 12-1 win over Chavez on Monday.
JACOB PETERSON (Sierra RHP, junior)
Peterson is an excellent dual-threat player for the Timberwolves, and is batting .389 with eight extra-base hits and 14 RBI, and is 4-2 with a 1.94 ERA and two complete games. Sierra is two games behind Oakdale in the VOL standings, and the two play each other twice this week: on Tuesday at Sierra and on Thursday at Oakdale.
BRAYDEN HARCASTLE (East Union C, junior)
Hardcastle, one of The Record’s former Male Athlete of the Week winners, is the backstop of the third-place Lancers (who are seeking a return to the postseason) and hitting quite well. Hardcastle is batting .400 with three home runs, nine doubles and 20 RBI, and slugging a Bonds-ian .760.
RYAN WARD (Manteca RHP, freshman)
It would take an incredible finish by Manteca, and an exceptional final few starts by Ward, to close in on some of the veterans, but his debut has been amazing nonetheless. Ward is 7-1 with a 0.98 ERA< with 57 strikeouts and 24 walks. The Buffs’ future is bright to say the least.
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