New Cal-Hi Sports Softball Top 20

There won’t be a Norco-Pacifica showdown in CIF Southern Section finals, but the Cougars are still in line to be State Team of the Year. Amador Valley moves up to the No. 2 position.

One half of the anticipated matchup between No. 1 Norco and No. 2 Pacifica of Garden Grove for the mythical state and national title fizzled last Friday when Pacifica fell in a 4-3 loss to defending champion Santiago of Corona in the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals.

Norco, which is all too familiar with Corona Santiago, still has a chance to be No. 1 in both but has to get to this weekend’s final first with a Tuesday semifinal contest against Vista Murrieta of Murrieta (Tuesday scores are not counted in this week’s rankings).

Pacifica’s loss helps unbeaten Amador Valley of Pleasanton in its attempt to be No. 1 in both, too. If Norco doesn’t win its title and Amador does, then the final No. 1 state and national ranking will be headed to the East Bay.

(Through games played Monday, May 28)

(Contributing: Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens)

(Previous ranking in parentheses)

1. (1) Norco 28-2

A 12-run sixth inning enabled the Cougars to post a 15-0 triumph over Foothill of Tustin in the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals. This was a foe that had beaten Simi Valley and Saugus coming in, but was no match for the Norco juggernaut. Emily Lockman led the way with a three-hitter and went 3-for-4 with a homer.

2. (3) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 25-0

The shutouts just keep piling up in what is turning out to be one of the most dominating seasons in Bay Area softball history. Last week, Arizona State-committed sophomore ace Johanna Grauer pitched a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 CIF North Coast Section Division I quarterfinal victory against Livermore. It was her 10th straight shutout and No. 20 on the season. The Dons also have now won 37 straight games dating back to last season. Next up is a semifinal against Freedom of Oakley, whose pitcher Madison Williams is the little sister of current Freedom assistant coach Amanda Williams, the 2006 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year.

3. (14) Edison (Huntington Beach) 26-4

Making a big charge up the rankings this week is the Chargers as Samantha Cordova pitched her third shutout of the postseason in a 6-0 win over previous No. 4 Lutheran of Orange in the CIFSS Division I quarterfinals. Casey Africano led the way on offense with double, home run and four runs batted in as they avenged an earlier loss to the Lancers. Earlier in the week, Edison defeated Canyon of Anaheim 13-0 as Africano drove in a game-high three runs. They will now face Santiago of Corona on Tuesday in the semifinals.

4. (16) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 23-4-1

The Broncos are the highest rising team this week after defeating Los Alamitos 5-2 and Esperanza of Anaheim 3-0 in the CIFSS Division I playoffs. Selina Ta'amilo was nearly perfect against the Aztecs as she allowed just one hit and walked just one while striking out seven in the complete-game shutout performance. Vista Murrieta will now face No. 1 Norco on Tuesday in the section semifinals.

5. (5) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 27-2

The top seed and defending CIF Central Coast Division II champions won their 10th title since 1990 on a three-hitter by Cal-bound Vanessa Alvarez in a 7-1 victory over San Jose Leigh. Earlier in the week, Alvarez had a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and even drove in two runs in a 5-0 shutout of Gilroy. The Monarchs remain in this spot for this week’s rankings but will almost assuredly move up since two of the three teams ahead of them from the CIFSS D1 playoffs will lose before the season ends.

6. (6) Chino Hills 30-3

With a pair of shutout victories last week, the Huskies advance to the CIFSS Division III semifinals where they will face Bishop Amat of La Puente. Nikki Innamorato allowed just three hits and Tanner Snow hit a two-run home run as they defeated Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach in the quarterfinals 5-0. Patricia Parks drove in three runs and Brogan Hoenish drove in two runs in their 8-0 win to open the week against La Serna of Whittier.

7. (10) James Logan (Union City) 22-1

In what was one of their toughest wins of the year, the Colts scored one run in the first inning and three in the third, and then hung on for a 4-3 win in the NCS Division I quarterfinals over a Castro Valley team that outhit them. Junior pitcher Raeann Garza gave up 10 hits but knuckled down in the sixth and seventh innings to preserve the win. Next up is a semifinal match-up with a California of San Ramon squad that upset previous No. 19 Brentwood Heritage and forced extra innnings in one of its games against Amador Valley.

8. (2) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 28-3

The Mariners lost for just the third time on the season in their 4-3 defeat at the hands of Corona Santiago in the CIFSS Division I playoffs. It was just one bad inning, too, as Santiago erupted for four runs in the fifth inning after trailing 3-0. Most of the top players for Pacifica will be back next season so it should be more of the same as far as high rankings are concerned. Getting it done in the CIFSS playoffs, however, is never easy.

9. (4) Lutheran (Orange) 27-5

Falling behind early, the Lancers were able to rally for an 11-inning 3-2 win over Valencia before having their season come to an end with a 6-0 loss to Edison of Huntington Beach in the CIFSS Division I quarterfinals. Noelle Wagner's sac-fly in the 11th drove in the game's winning run against Valencia. The season-ending loss to the Chargers was the first time all season the Lancers were held scoreless. If Norco wins it all, that will be good for their final ranking because they posted a win over the Cougars at the Michelle Carew Classic.

10. (8) Royal (Simi Valley) 25-3

In a game that probably should have been played a little deeper into the playoffs but wasn’t as a result of a lost coin flip, the Highlanders saw their season come to an end at the hands of a Garden Grove Pacifica team that itself went on to lose its next game in the ultra-tough CIFSS D1 playoffs. Arizona-bound Nancy Bowling pitched well, only giving up two runs and four hits, and the girls themselves had six hits, but couldn’t push across any runs in a 2-0 defeat.

11. (12) Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 25-3-1

After losing in the CIF San Diego Section Division II title game last season, the Barons’ faithful were shaken when this year’s top seed fell behind 2-0 after pitcher Jennifer Hartman gave up a two-run home run in the second inning of this season’s title game. From there, however, the Sacramento State-bound senior got tough and finished with a five-hitter in a 4-2 victory over Rancho Bernardo of San Diego. Alex Vargas had the big hit, a three-run blast that gave the Barons the lead for good. Earlier in the week, Hartman beat Rancho Bernardo 5-1 before that team earned another shot at the Barons after beating San Marcos in the double-elimination format.

12. (NR) Santiago (Corona) 22-9

All the losses have hurt the Sharks in the rankings, but now that they are back in the CIFSS Division I semifinals after the big win over Pacifica we are justified in putting them almost in the top 10. A lineup change started on May 4 by coach John Perez has helped turn things around. Santiago is 8-0 since then with an 81-8 scoring margin and just three earned runs allowed. The team also has hit 14 homers. Two of those came in that one big inning against Pacifica by Erin Rodriguez (three-run shot) and Randel Leady (solo).

13. (NR) San Benito (Hollister) 23-3

In a matchup between last year’s State Coach of the Year Scott Smith of San Benito, and California’s all-time winningest coach, Jim Liggett of Belmont Carlmont, it was Smith and his No. 3 seeded Haybaler girls that came out on top in an 8-3 victory over the top seed in the CCS D1 title game. The championship was the seventh straight for San Benito. Taylor Fabing led the way with a two-run inside the park home run and five RBIs.

14. (NR) Woodcreek (Roseville) 26-4

The Timberwolves won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship in dramatic fashion as Jenna Curtan hit a two-out two-run single in the seventh to tie the game and Christal Vierra then singled for a 3-2 win over Del Campo of Fair Oaks. Earlier in the week, they defeated the same Cougars’ squad in a not so dramatic fashion as they jumped out to an early 7-1 lead on the way to the 8-4 win. If Woodcreek hadn’t had trouble with Del Oro of Loomis in its league, it would clearly be a top 10 in the state season for the girls.

15. (NR) Lakewood 29-5

Janel Hayes did it all for the Lancers in their 4-0 CIFSS Division II quarterfinal win over Northwood of Irvine as she hit a grand-slam home run and allowed just two hits and had seven strikeouts in the complete-game shutout. Sophomore Jessica Scroggins homered twice as they defeated Canyon Springs 7-6 in the second round. Lakewood also goes back into the state top 20 for the same reason it did earlier this season and that’s due to having a doubleheader sweep against Central of Fresno. Central, however, is now the CIF Central Section D1 champion.

16. (NR) Central (Fresno) 28-6

There was a reason the Grizzlies were awarded the No. 2 seed in the CIF Central Section Division I playoffs and when top seed El Diamante went down, Coach Scott Gorton and his girls grabbed the brass ring and beat the Clovis West of Fresno team that had beaten El Diamante in the semis. The girl that really came up big was pitcher Lindsey Clarkson. The senior tossed a perfect game in a 4-0 title-game victory that also gives the Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference champions a 2-1 record against Clovis West after they had split in conference play.

17. (7) El Diamante (Visalia) 30-2

A 7-6 loss to Clovis West in the Central Section D1 semifinals ended the season for the Miners. They had beaten a number of the top teams in the section earlier in the season, but hadn’t faced the Golden Eagles before. This was a team that didn’t lose in its first 20 games. Next year, with almost everyone back, look for the Miners to try to toughen up the early part of their schedule to they perhaps peak stronger in the playoffs.

18. (9) Esperanza (Anaheim) 25-7

The Aztecs’ season came to an end in the CIFSS Division I quarterfinals as the offense struggled to get anything going against Selina Ta'amilo in a 3-0 loss to Vista Murrieta. In their final win of the season, the Aztecs fell behind to Mater Dei of Santa Ana 3-0 before rallying and scoring two runs in the seventh inning on a hit by Kristen Griffiths for the 4-3 win. Haleigh John and Nicole Shroeder each had solo home runs earlier to help set the stage for the final inning win.

19. (11) Los Alamitos 23-7

The Sunset League champions saw the sun go down on their season as they suffered a 5-2 loss to Vista Murrieta in the second round of the CIFSS Division I playoffs. Erika Crissman had two of the Griffins’ three hits while Rachel Sellers had a double. Despite the early playoff exit, Los Al will have a strong case to remain ranked in the top 20 as they defeated Sheldon of Sacramento and have two wins over Edison of Huntington Beach.

20. (NR) Sheldon (Sacramento) 21-9

Putting on an offensive fireworks show this postseason, the Huskies captured their second straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and fifth overall with an 8-1 win over Ponderosa of Shingle Springs after losing twice to the Bruins earlier this season. Meshalon Moore led the way as she went 4-for-4 with a home run and a game-high three runs batted in. After scoring a combined 34 runs in wins over Pitman and Tokay, the Huskies scored 28 total runs in wins over Elk Grove and West of Tracy earlier in the week.

Dropped Out:

Previous No. 13 Mission Viejo; No. 15 West Ranch (Valencia); No. 17 Camarillo; No. 18 Dos Pueblos (Goleta); No. 19 Heritage (Brentwood); No. 20 Canyon (Anaheim).

Teams on the Bubble:

Alhambra (Martinez) 22-4, Bishop Amat (La Puente) 24-6, Canyon (Anaheim) 18-9, Carlmont (Belmont) 24-4, Chino 22-9, Clovis West (Fresno) 28-11, Hughson 26-1, La Canada 24-4-1, Mission Viejo 24-6, Newark Memorial (Newark) 21-4, Petaluma 22-3, Saugus 22-8, St. Lucy’s (Glendora) 24-5, Valencia 19-11, West Ranch (Valencia) 22-5-1.

Comments or corrections? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.