NEW Softball State Top 20

Mackensie Kohl pitches for No. 7 Mater Dei of Santa Ana, which was the CIF Southern Section D1 champion two years ago. Photo: Patrick Takkinen/

There haven’t been any major shockers in the early going of the 2018 season, but there may be this weekend as several significant tournaments will be held. The biggest of those is the annual gathering at the Nevada-Arizona border for the Dave Kops TOC in Bullhead City, Ariz. There’s a good chance that if the winner of that event is from California that it will be No. 1 in the state and nation next week if that team is still unbeaten. The highest ranked newcomer is M.L. King of Riverside, which won the Stu Penter Classic.

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(Preseason ranking listed in parentheses)
(Through results of Wednesday, March 7)

1. Norco 3-0
The highlight of the Cougars’ first three wins was a 7-5 triumph over preseason No. 14 Orange Lutheran. They fell behind 3-0 after the first inning but kept scoring after that, eventually overcoming the Lancers. Junior Kinzie Hansen had three hits and two RBI, senior Bianca Gonzalez had two hits and two RBI and sophomore Sarah Willis reached base five times (2-for-2 with a double and three walks). Willis, the transfer from Ayala, gave up the three early runs but settled down after that and struck out six. The Cougars will put their top ranking on the line this weekend at the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Arizona.

Megan Faraimo is one of the top pitchers in the nation. Photo:

2. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 2-0
After opening the season on Tuesday with a 1-0 shutout of Chula Vista Olympian, head coach Margaret Mauro’s girls will be in the Cougar Classic tournament through the weekend. The Dons won their first game in that tourney on Wednesday 1-0 over Vista as Megan Faraimo struck out 13 batters in five innings. That isn’t an event that brings in top teams from outside of the CIF San Diego Section, but the Dons still should be tested. State No. 8 Mater Dei Catholic is in the field as well.

3. (3) San Marcos 3-0
The Knights are the next highest ranked team in our State Top 20 going to the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona. They opened with an 11-1 romp past La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad, then opened the Best of the West tourney last Saturday with wins against Eastlake of Chula Vista and Huntington Beach. They had to work for the 5-4 win over the Oilers, who were written up at No. 25 in our preseason rankings and arguably should be in this week’s State Top 20.

4. (4) Los Alamitos 3-0
Junior pitcher Sarah Ladd fired a one-hitter as the Griffins won 3-0 earlier this week over preseason state No. 7 Santiago of Corona. Last year’s No. 1 team could be back to No. 1 if it were to win the title at this weekend’s Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona.

5. (5) Foothill (Pleasanton) 2-0
It will be a rematch of the 2017 CIF North Coast Section Division I final on Thursday when the Falcons play James Logan of Union City. It will be the first game of the season for the Colts, who were No. 22 in the preseason state rankings and would be No. 21 this week if we extended it beyond a top 20. We always do longer and more extensive preseason and final rankings in every sport. Foothill won its first two games 5-1 over Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and 8-4 over Castro Valley.

6. (6) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 0-0
The Dons usually start their season at the Queen of the Mountain tourney in the East Bay and they’ll do that on Thursday of this week vs. College Park of Pleasant Hill. They are actually one of the host schools. In that tourney, Amador could face Sheldon of Sacramento (No. 10 in the state) but arch-rival Foothill is not showing the event on its schedule.

7. (11) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 3-0
Mackensie Kohl pitched well for the Monarchs in their home opener earlier this week against West Ranch of Valencia. It was a 1-0 game until the late innings when the bats woke up for four runs and an eventual 5-1 victory. Head coach Jessica Foley’s team is going to the Dave Kops TOC in Arizona this weekend where it could obviously shake things up for next week’s rankings.

8. (9) Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 2-0
In their first game at the Cougar Classic on Wednesday, the Crusaders rolled over Westview of San Diego 11-4. The best case scenario of course would be for them to win the tourney title with a triumph against state No. 2 Cathedral Catholic along the way. MD Catholic has a game coming up on March 24 at Norco.

9. (10) Clovis 2-0
Fresno State-bound Danielle Lung had a great start to the season with a perfect game and 15 strikeouts in a 5-0 victory over Pacheco of Los Banos. The Cougars then beat Centennial of Bakersfield in a CIF Central Section Foundation Game and will be hosting their own Clovis Lead-Off Classic this weekend. Huntington Beach is one CIFSS team coming up for the event. Clovis is playing San Benito of Hollister, a perennial power from the CIF Central Section, in its tourney opener.

10. (12) Sheldon (Sacramento) 3-0
After squeaking past Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills 4-3 in their opener, the Huskies had an easier time in wins of 8-1 and 13-0 against Roseville and Lodi, respectively. They will open at the Queen of the Mountain tourney this week against Castro Valley and could face state No. 6 Amador Valley. Head coach Mary Jo Truesdale’s squad also will play Amador Valley again in a non-league matchup early next week.

11. (20) Camarillo 6-0
We could have given M.L. King the biggest jump in the rankings this week, but the Scorpions are a CIFSS champion from last season and just beat preseason No. 8 Valencia 3-2 on Tuesday. Eryka Gonzales, who was the freshman pitcher who helped spark last year’s title run, pitched a complete game. Camarillo scored all three runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run single from Carly Ormond.

Both catchers at M.L. King of Riverside, Alyssa Barela and Amanda Gill, hit home runs during one of their team’s wins at the Stu Penter Classic. Photo:

12. (NR) M.L. King (Riverside) 6-0
The Wolves got launched to No. 10 in the MaxPreps national rankings after winning the Stu Penter Classic with an 8-2 win over Yucaipa in the final. We didn’t go that crazy, but they do go up into the top dozen of the State Top 20. If you don’t know, we don’t match the national rankings of people who aren’t from California and don’t have 30-plus years of ranking experience. In the semifinals, King topped preseason No. 8 Valencia 2-0.

13. (13) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)

This team is in pretty good tournaments but isn’t in the Arizona TOC or someplace similar so it could be what we like say will be “slow-played” in the rankings. The Lions will be in the Birmingham tourney this weekend and have a double-header sweep of El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) already on their resume. By slow-played, this means other teams that do well in some of the more prominent tournaments may pass up Oaks Christian in the rankings. It’s not like the Lions will drop at all if they keep winning but the upward moves in “slow-play” mode tend to be one or two spots at most.

14. (14) Lutheran (Orange) 4-1
Some had the Lancers preseason No. 1 in Orange County (we just started Los Al higher along with Mater Dei) and in their first tourney they played well with the only loss being that one by 7-5 to No. 1 Norco. LSU-bound Ciara Briggs had a huge week with eight hits, three homers and eight RBI. Orange Lutheran will be another team hoping to make some big headlines this weekend at the Dave Kops TOC in Arizona (although the teams stay across the river in Laughlin, Nev.).

15. (7) Santiago (Corona) 3-1
That 3-0 loss from this week to Los Alamitos (a higher ranked team and No. 1 in the state a year ago) usually doesn’t drop a team like the Sharks that far in the rankings. The difference this week is that the first regular season rankings also enable us to adjust from the preseason and in some cases we will do that to reflect how others around the state are ranking teams. Frankly, Santiago wasn’t as high in the CIFSS rankings or in some national rankings we look at as other Southern California teams. The team is still in the State Top 20 after losing to Los Al, but has been dropped eight positions.

16. (8) Valencia 4-2
In their 3-2 loss to Camarillo earlier this week, the Vikings’ two senior standouts, Shea O’Leary and Ally Shipman, did what they do but there wasn’t enough clutch hitting to get baserunners home. O’Leary struck out 15, but had trouble in one inning. Shipman went 2-for-3 with a double. Valencia’s other loss was to M.L. King of Riverside at the Stu Penter Classic. The best win was 3-0 in eight inning over preseason No. 15 Murrieta Mesa.

17. (19) Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 4-0
Senior pitcher Paige Vargas was throwing the gas on Tuesday of this week with a no-hitter in a win by the Eagles over Laguna Hills. We still have Santa Margarita slotted behind Trinity League rivals Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran, but the strong start does result in a two-spot jump.

18. (17) Rio Mesa (Oxnard) 1-0
In their season opener on Wednesday, the Spartans blanked Royal of Simi Valley 6-0. Sophomore Alicia Estrada, one of the state’s top freshmen last season, started strong as well. She pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts. Rio Mesa will be playing in the Suzanne Manlet tourney this weekend, an event that has had to reschedule games due to last weekend’s stormy weather.

19. (18) Watsonville 2-0
The early part of the schedule for Wildcatz, our preseason pick in the CIF Central Coast Section and defending D1 section champs, isn’t that great. But we know they are in one of the best leagues in Northern California (including San Benito and Notre Dame of Salinas). In their first two games, Watsonville routed Linden 14-3 and Monte Vista Christian of Watsonville 12-0.

20. (NR) James Logan (Union City) 0-0
For this last spot, we were going to move in the next team in line from the San Diego Section, Granite Hills of El Cajon, but the Eagles were beaten 2-1 on Wednesday in an opening round game at the Cougar Classic, a tourney that includes both Cathedral Catholic and Mater Dei Catholic. Instead, we’ll put in preseason No. 22 James Logan, which was scheduled to play No. 5 Foothill of Pleasanton on Thursday. The Colts were the runnerup in last year’s NCS D1 playoffs and have a lot of returning players under veteran head coach Teri Johnson.

Teams That Dropped Out
Previous No. 15 Murrieta Mesa (Murrieta); No. 16 Stockdale (Bakersfield).

Teams On The Bubble
Agoura (Agoura Hills) 1-0
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 1-0
Benicia 0-0
Buchanan (Clovis) 2-0
Buena (Ventura) 1-2
Carlmont (Belmont) 2-0
Chino Hills 4-1
Concord 0-0
Don Lugo (Chino) 3-0
Freedom (Oakley) 0-0
Granite Hills (El Cajon) 2-1
Huntington Beach 1-1
James Logan (Union City) 0-0
Madera 4-1
Notre Dame (Salinas) 1-0
Pioneer (Woodland) 2-0
Oakdale 2-0
Redwood (Visalia) 3-1
Ramona 1-0-1
San Benito (Hollister) 0-0
St. Mary’s (Stockton) 0-0
Vanden (Fairfield) 1-0
Yucaipa 4-1

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

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