Four spring sports – golf, diving, tennis and girls soccer – begin Sac-Joaquin Section playoff action this week. And even though the baseball and softball postseason doesn’t begin for another week, there’s enough of a playoff feel to several regular-season finales that we might as well refer to them as playoff games.
Let’s start with the biggest: Today’s Western Athletic Conference showdown between Central Catholic and Ceres. Both are 10-0 in league play and they begin a two-game set today at Ceres High. Tuesday they play at CC. Both games start at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Central Valley and Los Banos are tied at 6-4 for the WAC’s third and final playoff spot. They meet today and Tuesday to determine who plays on and who cleans out lockers.
Over in the Valley Oak League, city rivals Manteca (12-0) and Sierra (11-1) meet in a two-game set to determine the league title, while Hughson (8-2) and Orestimba (7-3) play Tuesday and Wednesday to decide the Trans-Valley League champ.
In the Southern League, first-place Mariposa (11-1) hosts second-place Ripon Christian (10-2) today at 4 then travels to Ripon tomorrow; third-place Le Grand (9-3) goes home-and-home with fourth-place Gustine (7-4).
The softball races, even though there aren’t as many first-vs.-second matchups, are just as meaningful.
In the VOL, Oakdale and East Union are tied at 11-2 with a game to play on Tuesday. The Mustangs host rival Sonora while the Lancers travel to take on Weston Ranch, and races in the MLL, SL, TVL and WAC have yet to be settled.
As far as the real playoffs are concerned, golf gets underway today in several venues with today’s Sac-Joaquin Section divisional tournaments. The goal for everyone: A qualifying berth for the Section Masters a week from today at Stockton’s Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.
The Modesto Metro Conference and Central California Conference teams go to Elkhorn in Stockton for the Division 1 South, where the top three teams and individuals not on those teams advance to Masters.
The rest of the tournaments involving Stanislaus District leagues: The D4 at Manteca Park (two teams and three individuals advance); the D5 at Peach Tree CC in Marysville (the champion and three individuals advance); and the D6 at Haggin Oaks’ Mackenzie course in Sacramento (champion and three teams advance).
Section team tennis competition also begins today with 11 local teams in action.
In Division 1, Gregori travels to Merced to face Golden Valley, Merced High visits Napa and Modesto hosts Pleasant Grove. In Division 2, Central Catholic entertains Bethel while Central Valley and Sonora both hit the road. In the co-ed Division 3 tournament, Modesto Christian hosts Waterford and Calaveras visits Delhi. All matches start at 3:30 p.m.
Division 1 schools Enochs and Turlock, and D2 entrants Manteca, Ceres and Kimball will all host Tuesday matches. Division 3 squads Amador, Ripon Christian, Escalon also host matches Tuesday; Ripon and Argonaut have road trips to make.
The girls soccer playoffs get cranked up Tuesday with 20 Stanislaus District teams competing in seven different divisions. Enochs, the six-time defending Modesto Metro Conference champ, opens as the No. 5 seed in D1 with a 3:30 p.m. home game against No. 12 Merced.
East Union (D4), Central Catholic (D5) and Amador (D6) were awarded No. 1 seeds.
The South Sac-Joaquin Section diving trials get started on Thursday at Johansen High, with the finals being contested there on Friday. Junior varsity competition starts at 11 a.m. both days, while varsity action begins at 2 p.m.