State Divisional Softball Rankings

Hailey Dolcini pitches for Fortuna, which will start the CIF North Coast Section Division IV playoffs as the No. 1 team in the D4 state rankings. Photo: Dylan Kattengell/Prep2Prep.com.


Like baseball this week, here’s a look at teams that have the best chances to end their season with a mythical divisional state title by winning a section title in the next three weeks. These divisional rankings go back more than 30 years and while we haven’t been able to start them earlier in the season we’re not stopping either.

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(After games of Wednesday, May 17)
(May not include some results of games played on Thursday, May 18)

Mary Iakopo of Los Alamitos gained valuable USA Softball experience last summer. Photo: USASoftball.


DIVISION I
1. Norco 30-0
2. Los Alamitos 24-3
3. Lutheran (Orange) 25-4
4. Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 22-3
5. San Marcos 23-4
6. Mission Viejo 20-5
7. Sheldon (Sacramento) 26-2
8. Stockdale (Bakersfield) 28-1
9. Tracy 24-2
10. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 22-8
11. San Benito (Hollister) 23-4
12. La Habra 20-7
13. Foothill (Pleasanton) 21-4
14. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 25-5-1
15. Valencia 22-7
On The Bubble: Carlmont (Belmont) 25-2, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 22-5-1, Grand Terrace 22-2, Hanford West (Hanford) 22-3-1, Heritage (Brentwood) 15-4, Ramona 27-4, Santiago (Corona) 21-6.
Notes/Breakdown: The top 14 teams in the D1 category are all from the overall State Top 20 compiled earlier this week so the order was simply matched. Valencia got the nod for the 15th slot from among teams on the bubble for the State Top 20 and played on Thursday in a CIF Southern Section D1 playoff game.
Amador Valley is the only team in the top 15 for D1 that doesn’t officially know of its seeding in a section playoff. The Dons are in the CIF North Coast Section, which is going to do its brackets this weekend and is the only section in the state that doesn’t begin its playoffs until next week.

Lexy Mills of Agoura is one of the top sophomore pitchers in the state. Photo: SoCalSidelines.com.


DIVISION II
1. Gahr (Cerritos) 25-0
2. Rio Mesa (Oxnard) 25-2-1
3. Camarillo 22-3
4. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 22-5
5. Elk Grove 21-5-1
6. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 22-4
7. La Quinta 24-2
8. Half Moon Bay 23-2
9. Agoura (Agoura Hills) 21-8
10. Poly (Riverside) 24-6
On The Bubble: Foothill (Palo Cedro) 32-3-1, La Serna (Whittier) 23-6, Monache (Porterville) 26-2, Pioneer (San Jose) 13-9, Redwood (Larkspur) 18-5, San Pedro 24-9-1, Santa Monica 20-4, Santana (Santee) 20-7-1, Simi Valley 19-6.
Notes/Breakdown: Normally one would expect that teams with stellar records and stellar players like Foothill (Palo Cedro) and Monache (Porterville) would be in the D2 state rankings, but this turned out to be a very strong group of teams. Eight of the 10 teams ranked have been in the overall State Top 20 rankings this season at one point or another, including the top four this week. Elk Grove and Stockton St. Mary’s along with Agoura and Riverside Poly also have been that high this season.
Half Moon Bay is a team from the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division that we are putting in D2 and not D1 where most of the others have been placed. The Cougars haven’t been D1 in anything ever and while they deserve to get a ranking for their recent split of two games vs. Carlmont of Belmont (the top seed in the CCS Open Division) we are placing them in D2.
When the season began, after Gahr had gained transfer pitcher Vanessa Foreman (headed to Arizona), it was widely speculated that the Gladiators would be the team to beat in the CIFSS D2 playoffs. They aren’t in D1 because that is based on success over the past three seasons. So far, Gahr is living up to that preseason assessment.

Benicia’s McKenna Gregory was the athlete of the year by the Vallejo Times-Herald last year. Photo: beniciaheraldonline.com.


DIVISION III
1. Buena (Ventura) 22-0-1
2. Benicia 24-2-1
3. Newbury Park 24-6
4. East Union (Manteca) 24-3
5. Redlands 24-4
6. Notre Dame (Salinas) 21-6
7. Murrieta Mesa (Murrieta) 19-10
8. San Marin (Novato) 19-1
9. Knight (Palmdale) 23-4
10. High Tech (San Diego) 22-5
On The Bubble: Acalanes (Lafayette) 16-3, Aquinas (San Bernardino) 23-3, Casa Roble (Orangevale) 19-6, Ceres 19-8, Edgewood (West Covina) 18-0, Los Altos (Hacienda Heights) 202-6, Patriot (Riverside) 23-4, Savanna (Anaheim) 24-5, Tehachapi 22-5, University City (San Diego) 21-5, Woodbridge (Irvine) 15-13.
Notes/Breakdown: Buena is actually No. 6 overall in the state due to being unbeaten and winning the Thousand Oaks tourney over a number of D1 and D2 schools, including Rio Mesa of Oxnard. Benicia also is almost near the top 10 overall due to a recent win over Sheldon of Sacramento, which was in the top five overall at the time.
East Union has been No. 1 in this division before and is the No. 2 seed behind Benicia in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Ceres, which had our Ms. Softball State Player of the Year last season in Nicole Bates, is seeded third.
When we saw that Notre Dame of Salinas wasn’t in the CCS Open Division and instead fell to D2 in that section, that opened it up for the Spirits to make a run at D3 in our rankings. There are some CCS D2 teams that we’re going to consider lower than D3, such as Carmel for D4.
In the CCS, there’s only an Open Division, Division I and Division II instead of five, six or seven divisions, which is the norm for the rest of the state. We still have spread out those CCS teams into five state divisions.
In Thursday’s first-round of the CIFSS playoffs, there were no huge upsets of teams we had ranked in D1 or D2. But in this group, both Newbury Park (lost 3-2 to Fullerton) and Redlands (lost 11-8 to Hart of Newhall) have been ousted early. Those teams will have rankings adjusted next week in addition to checking out Fullerton and Hart, who are from strong leagues and may be benefitting by playing in a lower division than before.

Two top players for Dos Palos, which already has extended its winning streak this week to 24 games, are Rieana Reed and Eryka Rodriguez. Photo: Twitter.com.


DIVISION IV
1. Fortuna 21-1-1
2. South (Torrance) 19-7-1
3. Alemany (Mission Hills) 18-7
4. Mission Oak (Tulare) 17-6-1
5. Dos Palos 25-2-1
6. West (Torrance) 19-7-1
7. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 21-5-2
8. Sutter 22-5-1
9. Escalon 20-4
10. Heritage Christian (Northridge) 20-4
On The Bubble: Carmel 22-6, Coronado 19-3, Kelseyville 15-3, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 14-10, Ripon 19-4, Santa Ynez 17-7, Santiago (Garden Grove) 22-2, Selma 16-7, South El Monte (El Monte) 22-3, Templeton 27-6, Vista del Lago (Moreno Valley) 19-5, Wasco 24-5, Washington (San Francisco) 16-2.
Notes/Breakdown: Fortuna may be a traditional D4 size school being compared with some from the CIFSS that are not due to competitive equity, but the Tigers have a big-time player in Hailey Dolcini and did a great thing earlier this season to improve their ranking. They went to a tournament and beat D2 CIF Northern Section powerhouse Foothill of Palo Cedro (which is 32-3-1 overall) and they have a resume just strong enough to be No. 1 in this division.
South (Torrance), Alemany and West (Torrance) are in the CIFSS Division V playoffs, which makes all of them eligible for these D4 rankings. Sierra Canyon, however, is in D6, which we’re mixing up the teams into our D5 and D4. Sorry, but there’s just no way we’re putting some of the CIFSS D6 and D7 teams into our D5. Some of those teams are from schools that are just too big for D5.
The CIF Central Section has some strong D4 teams. In addition to top two seeds Mission Oak and Dos Palos, bubble teams Wasco and Selma also are in the bracket.

DIVISION V
1. Academy of Careers & Exploration
(Helendale) 18-1
2. Santa Paula 20-4
3. Grace Brethren (Simi Valley) 13-0
4. East Nicolaus 25-5
5. Desert Christian Academy (Lancaster) 18-1
6. Village Christian (Sun Valley) 14-11
7. Colusa 28-4
8. Cloverdale 18-4
9. Carnegie (Riverside) 18-0
10. Rosamond 21-7
On The Bubble: Classical Academy (Escondido) 12-8, Coalinga 21-6, Coast Union (Cambria 19-7, Ferndale 15-4, Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 15-5, Millennium (Tracy) 20-5, Nuview Bridge 20-2, Ripon Christian 19-7, St. Vincent de Paul (Petaluma) 13-5, Woodland Christian 16-8, Webb (Claremont) 16-4.
Notes/Breakdown: We’re going against the seedings in the CIFSS for this division not meant as a slight to the higher seeded teams but more as a nod to the dominance of senior Chloe Romero from Academy of Careers & Exploration and freshman Jessie Fontes from Grace Brethren. Romero, who has signed with Texas, had eight no-hitters in the team’s first 19 games. Fontes, who has committed to Arizona, threw her second perfect game and fifth no-hitter on Thursday night in a 10-0 win over Campbell Hall of North Hollywood. Also keep in mind again that some of the CIFSS D6 teams we are placing in D4 and not D5 for our state rankings. The two pitchers won’t meet in the playoffs since they’re in different divisions.
East Nicolaus is playing Colusa on Saturday for the CIF Northern Section Division V championship. The Spartans blanked Mt. Shasta on Thursday in their semifinal matchup 10-0. This will be the third straight year those two teams have played in this title game. East Nicolaus won last year but Colusa won in 2015. The Spartans also are going for their third section title in the last four years.
In Thursday’s CIFSS D6 playoffs, Desert Christian Academy lost in the first round to Wilson of Hacienda Heights 4-3. We’re pretty sure we aren’t going to rank Wilson in D5. It’s just too big of a school for our D5, which still has traditional smaller schools from sections that aren’t doing competitive equity like they are in the CIFSS.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle:


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