Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

1. The Vista Murrieta baseball team has been the class of the Inland Empire this season, and the Broncos are only getting stronger down the stretch. Vista Murrieta (18-4, 10-1) split a home-and-home series with Temecula Great Oak last week, but still own a three-game lead in the Southwestern League with four games remaining. They can clinch the title outright with a win Wednesday against visiting Murrieta Valley (13-9, 7-4). Vista Murrieta, ranked No. 2 in Southern Section Division 1 heading into last week, is expected to welcome back Matt Silberman this week. Silberman batted .453 last season, then underwent offseason reconstructive elbow surgery.

2. The tightest baseball league race in the I.E. grew a little tighter last week. Redlands and Redlands East Valley are tied for first in the Citrus Belt League with 8-3 records. Sitting one game back is Yucaipa and Fontana Miller at 7-4. The situation could become a little clearer this week as Redlands, ranked No. 5 in Division 2, plays a home-and-home series Tuesday and Thursday against Miller. Redlands East Valley has a home-and-home series with Yucaipa, ranked No. 7 in Division 2. Miller knocked Yucaipa out of a tie for first place in the CBL with a 6-3 victory Thursday at Miller.

3. Etiwanda has the best softball team in the I.E. and the Eagles might just have the top player in sophomore shortstop Delaney Spaulding, who helped her team win two more games last week to maintain a two-game lead in the Baseline League. Spaulding, who has already verbally committed to UCLA, cracked her seventh home run of the season and drove in three runs in a 5-3 victory Tuesday against Alta Loma. The Eagles are ranked 15th in the nation in the latest ESPN Rise Fab 50 rankings.

4. If the latest girls' track and field lists are any indication, the starting line in the 400-meter relay at the state championships could be crowded with I.E. teams. The latest girls' team to produce one of the top eight fastest times in the state is Ontario Colony. Sarah Dunmore, Jazmine Robertson, Britiney Edwards and Bria Edwards, combined to win the one-lap event Saturday at the Sacramento Meet of Champions in 47.87 seconds, which equaled the state's sixth-best time of the outdoor season. Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos owns the state's fourth-best time (47.49) and Moreno Valley Rancho Verde the third (46.92).

5. The Palm Desert boys’ tennis team was already pretty good but the Nighthawks received a big-time addition three weeks ago when sophomore Abe Hewko was cleared to play for the team. Hewko, who is currently 20thin the USTA’s boys 16s national rankings, had been home-schooled since moving to the desert from Oregon three years ago. The Nighthawks were ranked No. 1 in Division 2 even before the 6-foot-3 Hewko joined the team.