Updated Prep Baseball Power Rankings

The Tracy baseball team kept pounding on the door, but St. Mary’s wouldn’t relent.

Yes, the Bulldogs loaded the bases in three consecutive innings, before the Rams eventually sealed their 5-2 win on Monday at St. Mary’s High in Stockton, taking a two-game lead in the Tri-City Athletic League standings. Tracy, though, got its revenge today with a 5-0 victory at Monte Vista Middle School. The finale is at 4 p.m. Friday at St. Mary’s.

For now, here are my updated prep baseball large- and small-school power rankings, with an explanation for my large-school choices. To read my earlier rankings and my latest Prep Notebook, click here.

Large schools

1. ST. MARY’S (2) 10-10, 7-1 TCAL

The explanation: Facing juggernauts like Serra, Jesuit and Elk Grove has paid off again for St. Mary’s, which is thriving behind the electric bat of sophomore Christian Almanza: a left-handed hitting first baseman and cleanup batter. St. Mary’s has earned a split against Tracy’s top two starters, Noah Denoyer (win) and Cody Bolton (loss), and must take advantage of home field on Friday.

2. TRACY (1) 16-4, 6-2 TCAL

The explanation: Tracy has outscored St. Mary’s 7-5 in this series, and has a better overall resume this season, but that earlier loss to Lodi sticks out. Game 3 on Friday will decide which of these teams will own the No. 1 Record ranking heading into next week.

3. MANTECA (3) 15-4, 7-0 VOL

The explanation: Even after a brutal start on Wednesday against Modesto-Central Catholic, and losing perhaps its top hitter to an ejection, Manteca rallied to prevail 11-8 after losing 4-0 after two innings. Manteca has at least a three-game lead over the rest of the field, with half of the Valley Oak League schedule done.

4. LINCOLN (4) 10-10, 6-2 TCAL

The explanation: The Trojans, though they’ve suffered frustrating losses to Lodi and West, have already clinched a series win against Tokay entering next week’s pivotal three-game set with Tracy. Dezmond Gaines is batting a team-high .351 for Lincoln. Starting pitchers Jordan Olson and Keegan Wallen both boast ERAs under 2.00.

5. BEAR CREEK (NR) 13-5-1, 7-0 SJAA

The explanation: The Bruins absolutely deserve this spot in the top five. Bear Creek, which leads the San Joaquin Athletic Association by a game over McNair, has won seven consecutive games. Its last loss? Not a bad one. How about 9-8 at Davis: ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

On the Bubble: McNair, Sierra, East Union

Small schools

1. LINDEN (1) 15-5, 10-2 MLL

2. RIPON (4) 15-3, 5-0 TVL

3. ARGONAUT (3) 10-8, 8-3 MLL

4. ESCALON (2) 8-10, 3-2 TVL

5. RIPON CHRISTIAN (5) 12-5, 5-1 SL

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Prep Softball Power Rankings: Vol. II

East Union junior Mikayla Bongi pitches against Manteca in a Valley Oak League softball game on Thursday at Manteca High. East Union won 11-6. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD

The East Union softball team faces one heck of a test tomorrow.

East Union hosts co-Valley Oak League leader Oakdale at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Northgate in Manteca. The Mustangs and Lancers have a combined nine VOL titles. Read about that and more from the VOL rivalry series, in this piece by The Modesto Bee’s James Burns (who also has East Union ranked No. 1).

My Prep Softball Power Rankings return, and you can bet the Lancers are top dogs:

Large schools

1. EAST UNION (1) 13-0, 5-0 VOL

The explanation: The Lancers are without senior slugger Alexis Erich, who has an injured knee and is out for the season, but seniors Michelle Castro and Taylor Ward are bashing the ball around the yard without a care. Plus, juniors Mikayla Bongi and Delaney Pamplin are a formidable pitching duo in the circle. Lancers coach Brian Goulart says Castro is having quite possibly the best season for a position player in program history. Castro is batting .609 with four homers, six doubles, a triple, 14 RBI, an on-base percentage of .625 and a slugging percentage of 1.043. Her 1.668 OPS (on-base plus slugging) is astounding.

2. SIERRA (3) 8-2, 5-2 VOL

The explanation: Sierra has lost to two of the best teams in the section in Oakdale and East Union, but is perfect besides that. Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Walljasper is almost always a guaranteed good start, and the Timberwolves have excellent hitters like Walljasper (.483), Devi Coglio (.438, seven extra-base hits) and Julianna DeAnda (three HRs, 17 RBI). Sierra has held strong, and moves up after former No. 2 Tracy lost to Lodi 3-0.

3. ST. MARY’S (5) 7-6, 5-1 TCAL

The explanation: While Tracy owns the head-to-head, beating St. Mary’s 10-3 by breaking a late 3-all tie with a big inning, St. Mary’s is the one picking up steam. Plus, losing to Tracy is a better loss (on paper, this is not an insult) than losing to Lodi. Most importantly, St. Mary’s showed its potential last week by beating San Jose-Archbishop Mitty, one of the top teams in Northern California, at the Livermore Softball Stampede Tournament.

4. TRACY (2) 12-3, 6-1 TCAL

The explanation: Tracy might be frustrated to be fourth, since it leads the TCAL by  half a game and owns the current head-to-head over St.  Mary’s, and this week is the place to prove it. St. Mary’s hosts Tracy at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Arnaiz Stadium, and Tracy entertains St. Mary’s at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Tracy Sports Complex.

5. LODI (NR) 7-5, 3-3 TCAL

The explanation: West and Lodi both have arguments for this spot, as does Manteca, but the Flames have had a better run in the TCAL so far: Lodi has beaten Tracy, and its losses are two to Tracy, and one to St. Mary’s. West has one more TCAL win, but does not have a signature victory like Lodi’s 3-0 win over Tracy. Again, West can reverse this, this week, as it goes to Lodi at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and hosts Lodi at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

On the Bubble: Manteca, West, Tokay, Bear Creek, Franklin

Small schools

1. LINDEN (13-2, 8-0 MLL)

2. CALAVERAS (10-3, 7-1 MLL)

3. ESCALON (13-4, 1-0 TVL)

4. RIPON (8-3, 0-0 TVL)

5. ELLIOT CHRISTIAN (9-4, 2-1 CCAA)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Prep Baseball Power Rankings: Vol. II

Tracy catcher Kevin Saenz, center, throws out a base runner during his team's 7-2 Tri-City Athletic League loss to Lodi on Monday at Monte Vista Middle School in Tracy. PHOTO BY STU JOSSEY

Welcome back to The Record’s prep baseball power rankings. There was a shake-up in the Tri-City Athletic League today, but my No. 1 large-schools team remains.

Remember, the large schools are taken from the TCAL, San Joaquin Athletic Association and Valley Oak League. The new small-school rankings are taken from the Mother Lode League, Trans-Valley League, Southern League and Central California Athletic Alliance.

Enjoy!

Large schools

1. TRACY (1) 13-3, 3-1 TCAL

The explanation: Lodi shocked the Tri-City Athletic League by beating Tracy 7-2 on Monday at Monte Vista Middle School, yet the Bulldogs’ cumulative resume is still best in the area. Yes, even though St. Mary’s leads the TCAL by a game now. Their common opponent is Elk Grove. Tracy played Elk Grove once, and won 8-7 in extra innings. Elk Grove beat St. Mary’s 7-1 and 7-6. Tracy is ranked No.5  in Northern California by NorCalPreps, though will almost certainly slide backward after the Lodi loss.

2. ST. MARY’S (2) 7-9, 4-0 TCAL

The explanation: The Rams, a very young, still-learning team, have won the game they should’ve, and now own a one-game lead in the TCAL. That’s a wonderful thing for St. Mary’s, which could now lose its upcoming series against Tracy and leave with a (potential) first-place tie. Keep an eye on Lincoln, which you’ll see below, which won two close games over Lodi last week and pounded West today.

3. MANTECA (3) 12-4, 4-0 VOL

The explanation: The Valley Oak League may be wide open this year, but the Buffaloes are starting to look like the best bet. Manteca has already swept Oakdale, and plays at Sierra on Wednesday and hosts Sierra on Friday. Sierra hammered Central Catholic, an early favorite in the VOL, with a two-game sweep last week. Look out for Ronaldo Tijero, a first-team All-Area football pick for The Record, who’s a lethal bat for the Buffs.

4. LINCOLN (NR) 7-9, 3-1 TCAL

The explanation: Lincoln surges into my top five after a gritty series win over Lodi — which, apparently, is very legit after today’s win — and handling business against West in that series opener. Funny irony: the Trojans and rival St. Mary’s Rams have identical records.

5. SIERRA (NR) 9-4, 3-1 VOL

The explanation: Sierra could be interchanged here with any of the five bubble teams listed below, especially because it did split its series with East Union. But the Timberwolves are playing some of their best baseball, including a 3-2 win over Atwater-Buhach Colony today, where Jacob Peterson hit a walk-off single. Jack Thomson has been coaching baseball for 39 years, and has been Sierra’s head coach since the school opened in 1994. Veteran coaches like that have their players peak in May, and the Timberwolves might do just that.

On the Bubble: Tokay, Lodi, Bear Creek, East Union, McNair

Small schools

1. LINDEN (12-4, 7-1 MLL)

2. ESCALON (7-8, 2-0 TVL)

3. ARGONAUT (7-7, 6-2 MLL)

4. RIPON (12-3, 2-0 TVL)

5. RIPON CHRISTIAN (10-3, 3-1 SL)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Prep Softball Power Rankings: Vol. I

Junior pitcher Delaney Pamplin is a big reason why the East Union softball team is 11-0. RECORD FILE 2015

The rest of the state’s Division III should be happy there’s not a CIF State softball championship system.

Because East Union would be an absolute terror to face.

The Lancers are unbeaten thus far, have excellent junior starting pitchers in Delaney Pamplin and Mikayla Bongi, and some devastatingly-good hitters like Sam Owen and Michelle Castro.

That’s why East Union, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion, is an easy No. 1 for my first Prep Softball power rankings of the season.

1) EAST UNION (11-0, 3-0 VOL)

The only game the Lancers didn’t earn a win in, is one they didn’t play: as East Union and Oakdale agreed they didn’t want to face off in the NorCal Classic quarterfinals, likely wanting to avoid competing before their Valley Oak League matchups.

East Union, which was considered the state’s Div. III champion last year by Cal-Hi Sports, is led by the senior Castro, who’s raking at .645 with a team-high four home runs thus far. Owen is hitting .583 with two homers, four doubles and eight RBI.

2) TRACY (11-2, 5-0 TCAL)

The Bulldogs, who are batting .316 as a team, are perfect in their first of three five-game runs through the Tri-City Athletic League. St. Mary’s will not be an easy out, though. Though Tracy won the first matchup 10-3, it broke a 3-all tie late with a huge inning. Rachel Cid, a returning All-Area first-team selection, is batting .486 with 12 extra-base hits and 17 RBI. It’s the first year for coach Paulette Keeney, who takes over for Greg Smith, the former coach of 23 seasons.

3) SIERRA (7-2, 4-2 VOL)

The Timberwolves’ two losses are 2-0 to rival East Union and 7-1 to Oakdale today, both Valley Oak League games. Sierra, though, is the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion, has a great sophomore ace in Lindsey Walljasper, younger sister of LSU pitcher Allie Walljasper, and a great lineup. Julianna DeAnda is batting .421 with three homers and Walljasper is hitting .480.

4) LINDEN (12-2, 7-0 MLL)

The Lions, seeking their sixth Sac-Joaquin Section championship, have been terrorizing the Mother Lode League and have already beaten a very good team in rival Calaveras. Linden also beat St. Mary’s 5-3 at home in a nonleague game in March. Linden is batting .411 as a team, paced by sophomore Carly Lucchetti, who’s batting a whopping .625. Sophomore pitcher Marisa Peters is 12-1 with a 1.35 ERA and six complete games, with 94 strikeouts to 33 walks.

5) ST. MARY’S (6-4, 5-1 TCAL)

The Rams could easily rocket up this list, and are down in this spot only because of the losses to Linden and Tracy. St. Mary’s is fueled by sophomore Carley Morfey who, despite battling a bad back, is batting .394 with a homer and has five wins pitching. Sophomore Alex Preston has been delivering big time, leading the Rams’ starters with a .513 batting average, with seven doubles.

On the Bubble: Escalon, Manteca, West, Bear Creek, Calaveras

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Prep Baseball Power Rankings: Vol. 1

The Tracy baseball team, including Garrett Cichella, 22, celebrate a run scored during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South playoffs in May 2015 at Klein Family Field in Stockton. RECORD FILE 2015

A team batting average of .347. Forty-three extra-base hits. A cumulative earned-run average of 2.57.

Some numbers may be deceiving, but when looking at its statistics, it’s quite easy to see why the Tracy baseball team is off to an 11-2 start overall and a 1-0 start in the Tri-City Athletic League.

That’s why Tracy is an easy choice for No. 1 in my first Prep Baseball Power Rankings of the young season.

1) TRACY (11-2, 1-0 TCAL)

The Bulldogs, recently ranked 12th in Northern California in NorCalPreps’ rankings, are defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South runners-up and have been excellent early. on. Tracy returns most of its roster, including starting pitchers in junior Cody Bolton (Michigan verbal commit), senior Noah Denoyer and senior Thomas Greely, as well as senior Brett Mansell.

The bulk of the Bulldogs’ position players are back, and they add sophomore Josh Alvarado, who’s batting .452 with 11 RBI. Junior slugger Lee Brewer, who missed the end of last season with injury, has already belted four homers.

Look out, TCAL. Look out, Sac-Joaquin Section.

2) ST. MARY’S (4-8, 1-0 TCAL)

St. Mary’s is likely the second-best team in the area still, yet the Rams are the inverse of Tracy, having graduated the vast majority of their key players.

Back, though, are senior outfielder Jarron Silva, a UCLA commit, and senior infielder Anthony Galindo, who’s got a smooth glove and a very good bat. However, it’s junior Christian Almanza who’s been the best offensive player of the regular starters, batting .333 with two doubles, a homer and five RBI.

3) MANTECA (10-4, 2-0 VOL)

The Buffaloes are off to a solid start in the Valley Oak League, after sweeping rival Oakdale with wins of 5-4 and 13-5. Tyler Graves-Kelso, a senior, was a member of the Buffaloes’ state championship basketball team but missed a large chunk of the season, including the end, with a knee injury. He’s ready on the diamond, though, and is 2-0 on the mound with an 0.60 ERA. Senior Ronaldo Tijero, a first-team All-Area football selection, is batting .396 with seven extra-base hits and 18 RBI.

4) KIMBALL (9-4, 0-2 VOL)

Kimball dropped its two VOL openers to Modesto-Central Catholic, but that is an excellent small-school team which will be a tough out in the Division IV or III playoffs. The Jaguars have beaten McNair and West.

5) Take your pick!

Seriously, take your pick. There are all kinds of contradictions in head-to-head so far. Lincoln beat Bear Creek but lost to McNair. McNair lost to West, Kimball and Manteca but beat Lincoln, Linden and Turlock. Weston Ranch is 13-1 but is yet to log a big-time victory. Sierra and East Union split their opening VOL series, and may very well be superior to Kimball. It’s anyone’s guess at this point. Tokay has shown it can be strong, has dropped games to Bear Creek and Oakdale.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Introducing the Lions North All-Stars

The initial 30-man roster for the District 4-A1 Lions North All-Star football team has been unveiled. The group is going to guided by Don Norton, the Stagg coach for the past 11 seasons who also coached the North stars in 2010.

Here’s a look at each player, and one sentence from me on what they bring.

LAVANTE BUSHNELL (Stagg QB/WR)

Bushnell is a versatile threat as a passer or receiver, and knows Norton and his up-tempo, spread system exceptionally well.

OSAI BROWN (McNair QB)

Brown is Stockton’s and San Joaquin County’s most prolific passer the last two seasons, and will fit perfectly as the North can flex Bushnell out as a slot receiver.

SEAN HAMILTON (McNair WR)

Hamilton gives Brown one of his favorite and most familiar targets, and while a ton of attention went to Nebraska-bound Derrion Grim this year at McNair, Hamilton was exceptional in a second consecutive first-team All-Area season.

RONALDO TIJERO (Manteca WR/DB)

Tijero is a hard-hitter, great in pass coverage and a very good wide receiver who will fit in easily with his teammates with that swagger inherited from the Buffs and coach Eric Reis.

NATE TURNER (Tracy OLB)

Turner brings the grit of the Bulldogs defense, and coach Matt Shrout, to a unit that’s brought in some excellent linebackers to say the least.

DYLAN BYRD (Calaveras QB/P)

Byrd will be fighting for pass reps with some great quarterbacks, but Norton, who saw Byrd perform at a 7-on-7 tournament last summer at Stagg, loves the kid’s arm and potential in a modern system.

DEON WHITE (Chavez WR/DB)

White was quietly one of the best defensive backs in the area, and the only time he let a couple passes be caught against him in man coverage were against Grim, Chavez coach John Ward said.

TERRANCE RITZOW (Chavez RB)

Much like Priest Jennings the year before him, Ritzow brought a workmanlike approach to earning another 1,000-yard season for the Titans, and provides a nice counterpunch for the North’s high-octane offense.

NICK ARNAIZ (Tokay DB)

Area coaches, especially from the Tri-City Athletic League, raved about the hard hitting and range of Arnaiz, a hybrid linebacker and safety, and Record first-team All-Area pick.

WYATT FAUGHAN (Sonora OLB/DB)

The Record does not cover Sonora, but peering into MaxPreps, it seems Faughan was an eclectic defensive player, with 56 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries.

AUSTIN MILLER (East Union DB/WR)

At 6-3, Miller has the height to make dramatic plays on both sides of the ball, and averaged huge yardage per reception for the Lancers.

ERRON DUNCAN (Weston Ranch RB/DB)

Duncan was the heart and soul of the Cougars, and his raw speed, high intelligence and uncanny athleticism could change this game for the North on a breakaway run or kick return.

BRANDON ZAUNBRECHER (St. Mary’s RB)

Zaunbrecher, a 1,000-plus yard rusher for the Rams, has a quirky running style, often moving diagonally, but he is incredibly tough to bring down as he showed in a long TD run in the section semis at Folsom.

BRANDON SANDERS (St. Mary’s DB)

Sanders, one of several great Rams cornerbacks from the past two years, excelled down the stretch and had an incredible pass knockdown in a 29-14, TCAL-clinching win at rival Lincoln.

MARCUS RIVAS (Manteca LB/DB)

Rivas was the senior captain who carried the Buffaloes’ heralded “Shepherd’s Stick” and was an absolute torpedo for Reis’ defense.

MARCEL DANCY (West RB/DB)

Dancy, undoubtedly the best two-way player in The Record’s coverage area, went off for 1,914 rushing yards and 25 rushing TDs in his senior season, one in which West qualified for the playoffs.

JONATHAN PHILLIPS (Stagg LB)

Phillips, the tackles leader on a defense full of gaudy tackling stats, is a silent leader, and a superbly intelligent player and young man.

CONNER JOHNSON (Tracy LB)

Johnson, the winner of Tracy’s team MVP award, will combine with Turner to give the North’s defense an edge, and the two will be extra-fired up to play on their home field: Wayne Schneider Stadium.

ANDREW GUEVARA (Sierra DE)

Guevara pushed 20 sacks before the Timberwolves CIF State championship run was over, as he is a relatively small, but beastly pass-rusher who earns everything he gets.

DANIEL GONZALES (Escalon C)

Coming from the Cougars’ and coach Mark Loureiro’s vaunted Wing-T rushing machine, Gonzales will be a valuable piece in run-blocking schemes.

KEEGAN WALLEN (Lincoln C)

Wallen has some experience in the spread and tempo of now-Lincoln head coach Anthony Martinez’s offense, and he and Gonzales will benefit from working with one another.

JOSHUA FALA (Sierra OL/DL)

Fala, a 6-foot-6 mountain of a man who’ll play college football for Delaware State, could be used to dominate both sides of the trenches by Norton.

GARRETT HEFFINGTON (Calaveras OL/DL)

Heffington, like Gonzales, comes from a sound, old-school system in Calaveras, and as most Mother Lode League players do, has a chance to prove he belongs.

ALEX BUENROSTRO (Chavez DT)

Buenrostro is familiar with what Norton likes on defense, and will help his fellow linemen create a passing attack against a South offense that went off in a comeback win last year.

TONY HARPER (St. Mary’s OL)

Harper was a crucial member of an excellent Rams offensive line, a quiet force who earned his keep as a Record first-team All-Area selection.

JOSEPH TOWNSELL (Lincoln OL)

Townsell, another first team All-Area offensive lineman for The Record, comes with high praise from former Trojans coach Brian Gray, and follows former Lincoln lineman Keilen Mocencio, who played for the North squad last summer.

FRANCISCO JIMENEZ (West OL)

Jimenez, highly-regarded by Wolf Pack coach Steve Anastasio, was part of the unit that helped Dancy put up an incredible season for West.

RODNEY JONES (Lincoln DL)

Jones, a 6-foot-5 menace on the defensive line, is bound for UNLV football and it’s obvious why: he’s tall, he’s strong, he’s fast, he can rush the passer and bat down passes with the best of them.

SHANE TORRE (Calaveras TE)

Torre is an interesting fit for Norton and the North’s high-speed offense, and may be a great counter punch for some passes over the middle as a strong, state-ranked wrestler who can drag some people downfield.

FRED ELKINS (Edison OL)

Elkins, a first-team All-Area offensive lineman, thrived in a tough offensive year for the Vikings, and was not just respected by his coach Andre Horace, but coaches throughout the SJAA.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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By the Numbers: Manteca goes to state

Manteca's Anand Hundal, left, battles against Bishop O'Dowd's Raymond Hawkins during their CIF NorCal Division III title game Saturday at American Canyon High. Hundal had a game-high 25 points and Manteca won 70-45. THOMAS LAWRENCE/THE RECORD

The last time a boys basketball team from San Joaquin County won a state championship, none of the current Manteca Buffaloes were born. That about says it.

Manteca, after defeating Oakland-Bishop O’Dowd 70-45 in the CIF NorCal Division III final on Saturday night at American Canyon High, has reached the first CIF State title game in program and city history. The Buffaloes face the Southern Section and Southern California champion Chino Hills-Ayala Bulldogs at 4 p.m. Thursday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

Here’s a “By the Numbers” look at Manteca’s remarkable March:

22: It’s been 22 years since a team from this county won a boys basketball state title: and that was the Ripon Christian boys, a three-time state champion, in 1994.

88: Even crazier, the last time a public school from this county won it was the now-closed Stockton High Tarzans in 1928. If anybody who reads this remembers that or was a part of it, PLEASE call me.

43: Manteca led O’Dowd, a 17-time North Coast Section and 10-time NorCal champion, 27-26 at half. In the second half, though, the Buffaloes exploded for 43 points while holding the Dragons to 19.

20: Manteca owned the interior against O’Dowd, epitomized by 6-foot-9 senior Kenny Wooten’s 20-rebound performance.

86: Dwight Young has been the Buffaloes’ Mariano Rivera: a near-unbeatable closer. The junior guard has delivered an 86-percent free-throw percentage. Not to mention, his 76 made 3-pointers and 40-percent clip from beyond the arc. (All stats are through the end of the section playoffs).

12:30: The Buffaloes will get a grand send-off to state when the bus leaves at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, and may have a police escort, like the Sierra football team did before its CIF State title game in December.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Know Thine Enemy: Ayala Bulldogs

The Ayala boys basketball team, right, presents a formidable challenge for Manteca in the CIF State Division III title game at 4 p.m. Thursday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. PHOTO FROM THE INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN

When you hear that the Manteca boys basketball team’s CIF State championship matchup is against a team from Chino Hills, it might drop your jaw to the ground.

After all, Chino Hills High is the No. 1-rated high school basketball team in the nation, and faces Concord-De La Salle for a CIF State Open Division title at 8 p.m. Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

The Buffaloes (28-6), though, face Ayala of Chino Hills, the Southern California Division III champion. Manteca and Ayala face off at 4 p.m. Thursday at Sleep Train. Ayala is, cleverly noted by the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer, the “other” team in Chino Hills. But the Bulldogs are formidable.

My “Know Thine Enemy” blog returns to break down Ayala.

AYALA BULLDOGS

Record: 34-3, 9-1 Palomares League

Accomplishments: Palomares League co-champions, Southern Section Division III champions

History: At least 12 consecutive winning seasons

Player to Watch: No. 0 John Edgar, 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward

Player to Watch: No. 1 Austin Awosika, 6-foot-3 senior guard

Against NorCal: Ayala has several impressive wins against Northern California teams the past decade, but none from our area.

Current streak:  Ayala has won nine consecutive games since an overtime loss against LaVerne-Bonita on Feb. 11.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

 

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New Heat goalie has other talents

The Heat signed goaltender Mark Owuya toa Professional Tryout (PTO) contract on Friday, taking him from the roster of the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies.

He’s an experienced guy, but there’s some interesting things about him which has nothing to do with hockey.

His brother, Sebastian, played for the Stockton Thunder in 2011-2012. and Mark, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, is a rapper who competed on the Swedish version of the reality show Idol in 2006 as a rapper named “Mark In Da Park.”

He didn’t win, but he is all over YouTube. Here’s his performance, with a quick warning for some language.

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By the Numbers: Pacific baseball’s preseason

It’s serious business now.

The Pacific baseball team has wrapped up its preseason games, and enters West Coast Conference play at BYU Thursday through Saturday. The Tigers (6-10) have had a stronger start than a year ago, though with a more realstic schedule.

Here’s a “By the Numbers” look at what Pacific’s done so far, focusing on some of the team’s statistical leaders and defining characteristics.

.383: Louis Mejia is perhaps the best contact hitter returning to Pacific, and he’s showed it thus far. Mejia has been red-hot, leading the Tigers with a .383 batting average, with a team-high 23 hits to go with nine RBI.

8: Mejia is also on an eight-game hitting streak, and went 5 for 8 in the Tigers’ recent weekend series at Washington in Seattle.

.422: Kevin Sandri, a freshman shortstop from Concord-De La Salle, has been a revelation for the Tigers. He has a team-high .422 on-base percentage, quite an honor as a freshman, and is hitting .362 with seven RBI, as he’s spent time out of the leadoff spot.

15: Tigers outfielder Danny Mayer lead the club with three home runs and 12 RBI (combine them you get 15, that’s a stretch, I know). The dude is confident and directly honest, and Pacific needs some swagger like that as it learns to become a winning program.

2.95: Jake Jenkins, a right-handed starting pitcher, is just 1-1 record-wise, but has delivered a very good 2.95 earned-run average in three starts.

8: Pacific’s season-high for runs scored in a game, as it did in an 8-5 win over Northern Colorado on March 6 at Klein Family Field.

14: Pacific’s season-high for runs allowed in a game, as it yielded in a 14-5 loss to Northwestern on Feb. 28 at Klein Family Field.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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  • Blog Authors

    Bob Highfill

    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

    Scott Linesburgh

    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

    Thomas Lawrence

    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
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