Prep2Prep NCS Rankings
THROUGH WEEK 13
No surprises at the top but after that it shakes up a little but it’s still the perennially top teams that fill out the first half of the rankings. Because of so many upsets, we had some newcomers come out of the bushes. Note: Last week's rankings in parentheses
Softball teams had gone 27-0 four times previously in the NCS, with the last and only time a Division I team accomplished the feat being when the 2014 Amador Valley group achieved the mark. Foothill joined the 1995 Washington-Fremont, 2004 Ferndale and 2007 Clear Lake teams plus their cross-town rival at their expense in the semifinals, but now with the top-seeded Falcons 2-0 NCS Division I championship game victory over second-seeded Heritage the Pleasanton girls and Coach Matt Sweeney stand alone as having the greatest season in NCS history when they got to 28-0 after winning their final game. Oklahoma-committed junior pitcher and slugger Nicole May (0.32 ERA, 246 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 151 innings pitched from the circle, a .463 batting average, five home runs, and 27 RBI with bat in hand) and her battery mate Courtney Boudreaux (.493 batting average, seven home runs, 28 RBI) are back plus others. The Falcons will be the team to beat in the NCS next season.
The Patriots gave it everything they had but fell short in a 2-0 loss to Foothill in the NCS Division I title game, All in all it was a great season for Coach Ron Rivers and his girls who despite the loss still ended up as the bridesmaid here and as the No. 2 team in Northern California and No. 10 in the state in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings. Coach Ron Rivers loses a lot of senior talent but returns a lot too. Incoming sophomore Tianna Bell (.479 average, seven home runs, 14 doubles, three triples, 46 RBI, 38 runs) is the top returner along with incoming seniors Kortney Marquez and Kyle Opelski as well as incoming junior Julia Barnett making Heritage look like they will be the No. 2 team behind Foothill to begin next season.
We didn’t do it last week and instead went with the EBAL records and seedings in the Division I playoffs but now that all is said and done and the Dons did as well against Foothill as California did against Heritage we’re flipping Amador Valley and California based on the 4-1 Dons victory in the EBAL semifinals. To us, if the league playoffs don’t count why have them?
The seeds like the rankings have the Grizzlies holding their spot in the pecking order, but after dispatching American and Granada, 7-2 and 5-1 respectively, they were dispatched themselves in a 10-0 mercy-shortened loss to Heritage in the semifinals. A lot of senior talent graduates but some promising underclass talent returns and Coach Tony Bari almost always has a competitive team.
The Cougars were better than the No. 7 seed they received in the Division I playoffs and their 5-0 loss to Heritage was not as bad as the loss California took to Heritage in the bet round. Plus, Carondelet has a split with California with a 10-0 win and a 1-0 loss, and they only lost 4-3 to Amador Valley in the lone meeting and 2-0 and 6-0 to Foothill, and that’s not bad. With that type of resume Coach Michael Creecy and his girls are the next team in the Division I pecking order. A name to look for next season is incoming junior Jesse Juinio. She led the Cougars in batting average (.493), home runs (11), RBI (27) and runs scored (20) and was tied for first with doubles (eight) and her 33 hits was second.
After moving up two spots in the last rankings the Dragons make a huge move after winning the Division II playoffs in a fairly loaded field. “I didn’t think we were a number eight seed,” said Bishop O’Dowd Coach Mike Cobb prior to his team’s 7-4 win over top-seeded Rancho Cotate in the Division II quarterfinals, and neither did we, and neither did the girls because they followed up that win with a 6-1 road win that avenged a loss to Newark Memorial to open the season when the team was short-handed. Then, Cobb’s girls avenged a 5-0 loss to Antioch with an 8-2 victory in the title game. Cal-bound shortstop Nicole Hammoude and Boston University-bound pitcher Elizabeth Avery are gone but Cobb has some talent returning led by incoming senior Jayla Dailey.
On paper the 25-1 record looks real good but the Wildcats strength of schedule is questionable, the Division III playoffs didn’t have a tough field, and they had a bit of a tussle in a 3-1 title-game victory over Sonoma Valley. The one loss was a 5-0 shutout to a Presentation-San Jose team that had a very solid season but we are a little leery about jumping Coach Dave Albini and his girls over teams that had tougher playoff brackets. Julia Scardina is gone off to Utah but the Wildcats are still loaded with Annabel Teperson back for her junior season after going 20-1 from the circle with a 1.06 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 132 innings pitched. She also hit .430 with four home runs, 30 RBI and even scored 29 runs since Albini let her run the bases.
Look for this team to be challenging Heritage for the BVAL title as Wisely returns all his top players led by incoming junior Haley Painter (.447 average, five home runs, 24 RBI, 20 runs) who led the team in every offensive statistical category, and incoming senior pitcher Bailee Reed.
For their first year in the NCS the Falcons made some noise by winning the Diablo – Foothill League but the No. 2 seed had its season ended in a Division II 4-3 quarterfinal loss to Antioch. Based on that score and the fact they won the league and beat Amador Valley and had a split with Alhambra in league, they finish ahead of the Bulldogs in the final rankings. Coach Kristin Grubbs returns just about everyone led by incoming junior Alicia Campbell. She hit .475 with seven home runs and 36 runs batted in.
The Bulldogs did about as well as we expected based on their competitive equity resume but we saw the No. 3 seed ahead of top-seeded Rancho Cotate in the pecking order and they finish as such and just lose one spot after a 4-2 semifinal loss to the Antioch team they fall in behind. First year Coach Adam McLane will have some returning talent led by incoming senior Sarah Shepherd and incoming junior Isabella Emerling.
The Cougars hold tight for the second straight set of rankings after getting to the Division II semifinals before the No. 4 seed bowed out in a 6-1 loss to an O’Dowd team that had beaten 10-4 early in the season. Coach Rachel Kahoalii loses a ton of talent but returns a lot too led by incoming senior Marissa Alvarez, who led the team with a .455 batting average, and incoming senior pitcher Briyana Costa
The Cougars 19-game winning streak came to an end in a 7-4 loss to by the top seed to Bishop O’Dowd in the Division II quarterfinals. Based on what other teams did against O’Dowd their showing is very respectable and after a three-spot bump last week they come up three more for the final rankings. Coach Tracey Poueu-Guerrero loses one of her daughters to graduation, Talia Guerrero, but her sister and incoming sophomore Tiare Guerrero is back along with top returner and incoming junior Tatum Maytorena as well as incoming senior pitcher and slugger Kaylee Drake.
After moving up two spots in the last rankings based on their No. 11 seed the Matadors are another team that makes a big move up after going to College Park in the opening round of the Division I playoffs and beating the hosts 6-5 before bowing out in the quarterfinals 5-1 to California. The Matadors lose just about all of their offensive firepower so we’ll see how Coach Johnny Heinz does with two incoming sophomores looking like the top returners, Marissa Herrera and Mariah Ayala.
We were going to drop the young Falcons after they lost to Concord and then Benicia but now after going out in the first round of the Division I playoffs at the hands of Granada it has to be a tumble behind not only D1 teams that advanced in the playoffs but D2 teams that went further than Benicia. The result is it lands the young Falcons, who seemed to lose a little steam after a stellar start, directly behind the Granada team that ended their season
Without Utah-committed pitcher and slugger Madison Papenhausen, who was out of the playoffs with a knee problem, the Mustangs were able to handle a Northgate team with some upsets on its resume, but their luck ran out in the quarterfinals when they were trounced by Newark Memorial. Whether or not Papenhausen would have made a difference is a question mark but the loss doesn’t hurt in this group as the Mustangs only lose a spot for the final rankings. Coach Liz Hartman returns Papenhausen for her senior season and Cal-committed incoming senior catcher Alexis Bishop, plus others.
The Gaels are the fourth team in the rankings to qualify for the playoffs with a losing record overall and in league but they were 9-8 against Division I schools and that got them the No. 12 seed and a Tuesday game at Castro Valley.
We were leery of the Trojans getting a No. 5 seed in the Division I playoffs and it turned out the upset bug bit them just as it did a number of teams after their loss to a Dublin that had already beaten. The playoff loss takes precedence and so Castro Valley falls in behind Dublin.
The Yellowjackets ended up 1-2 against Castro Valley and went out 4-3 to Amador Valley in the D1 first round after finishing tied for second place with Castro Valley in the West Alameda County – Foothill League. In this group that gets them a one-spot bump and one of the two spots back they lost in the last rankings to finish right behind Castro Valley.
The Vine Valley League champions had been off the radar screen but that certainly made a name for themselves with a football-like 23-13 win over Clayton Valley in the opening round of the Division I playoffs before the Grizzlies were declawed by the talons of the Foothill Falcons. Napa lost its share of games but they had some splits in league including with a Sonoma Valley team that blew out Moreau Catholic.
It turned out the seeding were correct and as such he Ugly Eagles hold tight after going on the road as the No. 9 seed to No. 8 Napa where they scored 13 runs and still lost by 10 in a mercy-shortened six-inning affair. Coach David Cooney returns virtually everyone other than his starting pitcher and one name to look for is incoming sophomore Jordan Woolery. She his .600 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 33 runs scored last season.
This is an up and down team that took its lumps during a 6-6 Vine Valley Athletic League season but they do have a split with Napa and they peaked in the playoffs after putting a 10-0 mercy-shortened six-inning semifinal licking on Mission Valley Athletic League champion Moreau Catholic before stubbornly falling 3-1 to Marin Catholic in the Division III title game. Coach Michael Fanucchi returns just about everyone, including the incoming senior Alcayaga twins, Ally and Abby, and incoming seniors Kaliya Hensic and pitcher and slugger Kennedy Midgley.
After moving into the top 10 in the last rankings their decisive loss to Sonoma Valley means big drop because with the loss being so big they have to finish behind that team despite being the Mission Valley Athletic League champion at 12-2 and owning a 6-3 win over Dublin.
After a first round 7-2 loss to California means after jumping five spots in the last rankings they drop seven because they have to finish behind Moreau Catholic after tying for second in the MVAL at 11-3 with a Newark Memorial team they beat twice in league
Despite an 11-1 loss to Heritage in the opening round of the D1 playoffs the Minutemen girls get to stay in the rankings based on their competitive equity resume which included a win over College Park that qualified them for the playoffs. The result is after dropping three spots in the last rankings they drop two more for the final rankings.
We would like to move the girls from Behind the Redwood Curtain up after their Division IV 11-1 championship game victory over a St. Patrick-St. Vincent team that had beaten a St. Mary’s-Berkeley team that took out top-seeded Cloverdale, but with Cloverdale getting dropped from the rankings the competitive equity of D4 took a hit so Coach Shanna McCracken and her girls have to hold tight and finish tied with Petaluma for the final spot.
With the success of Sonoma Valley in the playoffs we’re going to go with the T-girls, as veteran local Petaluma sports scribe Johnny Jackson call them, for the final spot in the rankings after the Trojans tied for second place in the Vine Valley League that included a split with Napa and Sonoma Valley. Veteran Coach Kurt Jastrow and his girls also had two one-run losses to Rancho Cotate and that was what got them the edge for the final spot over an American Canyon team that lost 13-2 to Rancho Cotate and a Vintage team they beat in their final league, both of whom also were 8-4 in league like Petaluma.