Division V Softball
(At Arnaiz Stadium-Stockton)
Modesto Christian (21-6) vs. Orestimba (23-3), 5 p.m.
Hughson (15-7) vs. Linden (21-3), 5 p.m.
Summerville (9-11) vs. Hilmar (17-5), 5 p.m.
Calaveras (22-6) vs. Escalon (17-8), 5 p.m.
The winners play at 7 p.m.
If the teams were seeded: No. 1 Orestimba, No. 2 Linden, No. 3 Escalon, No. 4 Hilmar
In the second round: Orestimba, looking for a second consecutive title, should get Linden in the double-elimination round, while Escalon plays Hilmar. The losers meet Friday and will need to win four games in two days for a title.
If Orestimba doesn't win, it's because: MC upset the Warriors in the opener. The Crusaders beat Orestimba 10-6 in March, so they won't be intimidated. Pitcher Kendell Taylor will need to be near-perfect, and Sloan McHann will need to drive a few deep balls to counter the Warriors' offense.
The dark horse: Escalon freshman pitcher Caitlin Brooks produced one of the top games of the season when she struck out 13 in a one-hit, 2-0 win over MC in late April. She one-hit Hilmar and no-hit Linden as well, so she's capable of beating anyone.
Don't you dare miss: Orestimba shortstop Juliana Santos, possibly the Stanislaus District's best small-school player ever. After committing to a top-25 program (LSU) as a junior, she batted .651 with 10 homers, 52 RBIs, 41 runs and three strikeouts in 91 plate appearances -- and her defense has to be seen to be appreciated.
The best lefty hitter is: MC cleanup hitter Sloan McHann, who is the niece of former Bee Player of the Year Jill Endicott. McHann's sweet line-drive stroke sends the ball streaking to right field with regularity, batting .505 with seven homers, 47 RBIs and 25 runs.
The great unknown is: Linden pitcher Audrianna Solari dominated in the Mother Lode, going 14-0 with a 0.46 ERA and 149 Ks in 91 innings. Linden faced one playoff team in the preseason, losing to Escalon 1-0.
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA