PREP ROUNDUP: Five region teams gain home games in section bat playoffs

Sanger West baseball is seeded fourth in Division IV bracket, Orange Cove softball second in Division IV softball as Titans seek third straight section championship

Sanger West High pitcher Cesar Gonzalez fires a pitch to the plate in the seventh inning of the Hornets’ 2-1 North Yosemite League baseball victory over Sunnyside High at SWHS on May 7. The junior righthander worked two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the save. (Jon Earnest)
Sanger West High pitcher Cesar Gonzalez fires a pitch to the plate in the seventh inning of the Hornets’ 2-1 North Yosemite League baseball victory over Sunnyside High at SWHS on May 7. The junior righthander worked two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the save. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published May 14, 2024  • 
12:00 pm

REEDLEY – Five teams in the Mid Valley Times coverage region — led by Sanger West High boys and Orange Cove High girls — secured first round home games in the Central Section baseball and softball beginning this week.

Baseball playoff dates are on a Tuesday/Thursday rotation on May 14, 16 and 21 with softball rotation being Wednesday/Friday on May 15, 17 and 22. Baseball title games run Thursday through Saturday, May 23-25 at Valley Strong Ballpark in Visalia; softball title games are Friday and Saturday, May 24-25, at Margie Wright Diamond in the Fresno State softball stadium.

Baseball opening round home games went to Sanger West (19-10) in Division IV and East Sequoia League champion Orange Cove (17-8) in Division VI. The fourth-seeded Hornets host No. 13 Dinuba (9-19) and can get a potential second home game against either Selma (13-15) or Monache (12-15-1) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16.

The No. 8 seed Titans take on No. 9 Corcoran (15-10), and with a win likely would advance to take on top seed Woodlake (19-8) on Thursday, May 16.

Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division champion Immanuel (17-9) just missed getting a top eight seed in Division III and was scheduled to travel to No. 8 Edison-Fresno (11-16) on May 14. A win there likely sends the Eagles to the Central Coast to take on top seed Pioneer Valley (21-5) on Thursday, May 16.

Immanuel High wrapped up the TCC Sequoia crown with a 7-2 victory at Reedley High on May 9. The Eagles got two hits and two RBI from senior Nic Coleman while sophomore Wally Coleman pitched six innings allowing five hits and striking out six for the victory.

Sanger High, which opened its season with eight straight wins, limps into the postseason with a 15-13 overall record after going 4-14 in County Metro Athletic Conference play. The Apaches were seeded 16th out of 16 D-I schools in the field, opening against top seed Clovis West (23-6) on May 14. In Division IV, Reedley (10-16) also received a No. 9 seed and opened at No. 8 Hoover on May 14. The Pirates with a win likely would travel to top seed Liberty-Madera Ranchos on May 16.

Division III plays its championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, and D-V and D-II title games will be at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 24 at Valley Strong Ballpark. The Visalia facility also will be the site of Saturday, May 25 finals for Division IV (noon), D-VI (4 p.m.) and D-I (7:30 p.m.).


Another OC-Mission Prep final possible

A third consecutive Central Section Division IV championship final between Orange Cove and Mission College Prep is possible as the Titans (19-9) and Royals (11-8-1) are the top two seeds. But this year, it’s Mission Prep that has the top seed while OC is slotted at No. 2 and will host Kern Valley (18-7) on May 15.

Should seeds hold, both the Royals and Titans will have home games Friday, May 17 and Wednesday, May 22 in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. If both teams reach the finals, Mission Prep will serve as home team for the Saturday, May 25 title game at 1:30 p.m. at Margie Wright Diamond in Fresno.

Orange Cove has won the past two championship finals, blanking Mission Prep 10-0 in five innings in 2022 and 4-0 in 2023. Senior Mia Castillo tossed shutouts in both games, and entered this year’s postseason with a 17-7 season record, 1.14 earned run average and 223 strikeouts with just 23 walks. Castillo (.465, five home runs) and senior Star Roman-Elizondo (.456, three HR, who recently signed a letter of intent to play at Cal State University-Monterey Bay lead the hitting attack.

Two other Mid Valley Times region teams earned home field games to open the playoffs. Also in Division IV, Immanuel High (16-8) is seeded fifth and hosts Arvin on May 15. A win would set up a possible rematch with No. 4 Kerman High, who beat out the Eagles for the Tri-County Sequoia Division championship.

The other team hosting a playoff opener is North Yosemite League champion Sanger West (24-5-1), which drew a No. 8 in Division III and takes on No. 9 Cabrillo High on May 14. If the Hornets win, they’ll likely play at top-seeded Taft High on Friday, May 17. Also in D-III, Reedley (16-13) takes a No. 10 seed into a road contest at No. 7 Tehachapi (20-6-1) in Kern County on May 15.

Sanger High, which finished second in the County Metro Athletic Conference title chase to Bullard, takes a 19-8 record and No. 12 seed into a May 15 game against No. 5 Centennial High in Bakersfield. If the Apaches pull off the upset, they’ll return to Bakersfield on Friday, May 17 at Frontier High.

Section softball finals will be held over two days at the Fresno State softball stadium’s Margie Wright Diamond. Games on Friday, May 24 will be Division VI (4:30 p.m.) and Division II (7 p.m.) while Saturday, May 25 schedule will be Division V (11 a.m.), Division IV (1:30 p.m.), Division III (4:30 p.m.) and Division I (7 p.m.).


Eagles finish seventh in D-II, two qualify for section

Led by Central Section Individual Meet qualifiers Caden Joseph and Joseph Montoya, the Immanuel High Eagles finished seventh out of 15 teams at the section Division II team championships at Lemoore Golf Course on May 6. Joseph and Montoya each fired a four-over 76 to tie three others for fourth place; finishing fifth and seventh in tiebreakers.

Other Immanuel scorers in the Eagles’ 435 score were Case DeGroot (90), Alex Tartaglia (95), Rocco DeGraw (98) and Amos Jackson (103). Santa Ynez finished first with a 413 score to edge Templeton by one stroke. Sanger West High had a score of 481, led by 29th overall finisher Joseph Quintana (83).

In the Division III meet at Lemoore Golf Course on May 7, Sanger High finished third out of 15 schools with a score of 473, trailing champion Tulare Union and runnerup Morro Bay. Trevor Berry led the Apaches with 87 while Cade McClung also eclipsed 90, shooting 89.

Immanuel’s Joseph and Montoya along with Sanger West’s Quintana were qualifiers for the May 13 Section Individual Championships at Ridge Creek Golf Course in Dinuba. Top qualifiers will advance to state regional competition on Thursday, May 23.

Jon Earnest