The inside track to the Modesto Metro Conference championship is up for grabs Tuesday when the Enochs High softball team hosts Gregori.
Both teams are undefeated through five conference games, yet ride different waves of momentum into the first of two meetings over the next three weeks.
Gregori (9-4, 5-0) is the perennial title contender. The Jaguars are the two-time defending champion and boast a 30-game league winning streak. First-year coach Kassey Govea's team hasn’t lost in league since May 4, 2015. The last team to beat Gregori: Enochs, which won 3-2. The victory proved crucial, too. The Eagles edged the Jaguars for the 2015 league title, and will look to do the same Tuesday.
Enochs hasn’t lost a game all season — a stretch of 11 straight — and statistically, Moises Martinez's young team has been the MMC’s best. The Eagles lead the conference in hitting, pitching and defense — and they’re doing it all with six freshmen in key spots.
The first-year talents include: Indiah Green (10 games, .250 batting average, six runs); Kayla Simpson (11 games, .263, five doubles); Victoria Ochoa (11 games, .389, seven hits); Anamarie Anderson (10 games, .360, eight RBIs); Brisaeda Baxter (nine games, .217, five RBIs); and Kara Pittel (11 games, .567, 17 hits, 11 RBIs, six doubles).
The youth pairs nicely with a strong junior class.
Bianca Benitez leads the team with a .577 average. She’s scored 17 runs and doled out 17 extra base hits. Morgan Leonard provides the thunder. She’s hitting .525 with team-bests in runs (21), hits (21) and extra base hits (eight).
Raquel Chaidez is 11-0 with six complete games, including a no-hitter. She is also the team’s top run producer with 13 RBIs.
Gregori is led by junior McKyla Nelson, the reigning MMC Most Valuable Player. Nelson is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 60 innings. She’s also hitting .323 with seven RBIs and 10 runs scored.
Aaliyah Swan has been the offensive catalyst. The junior leads the team in hits (16), RBIs (19), doubles (six) and is tied for the team lead in home runs (two) and runs (13). She is third in batting average (.381), trailing only Hannah Hoffman (.440) and Kylie Cox (.382).
The two will play twice in the final three weeks of the regular season. Gregori will host the regular-season finale on May 8.
Here’s a quick look at some of the other league races:
Central California Conference: Turlock (10-5, 6-0) has won six of its last eight games and owns a one-game advantage over Atwater (15-4, 5-1). The Bulldogs, led by senior Jessie Miranda (.463 average, 25 hits, 20 runs scored) and junior Shelby Frutoz (9-1, four shutouts), can create some separation this week. Turlock hosts Buhach Colony on Tuesday before traveling to the Falcons on Thursday.
Valley Oak League: Lexi Webb and Grace Green have the Mustangs out in front of the ever-competitive VOL. Webb (.625) and Oklahoma commit Green (.500) have combined to club 14 home runs and drive in 48 RBIs. Webb also is 11-0 with a minuscule 0.77 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 63.2 innings. Oakdale (13-0, 6-0) is percentage points ahead of Sierra (9-4, 7-1), which features arguably the top pitcher in the Stanislaus District in Nebraska-bound Lindsey Walljasper (5-1, 0.80 ERA, 65 strikeouts).
Trans-Valley League: The race at the top of the TVL is tight and could tighten on Tuesday. Escalon (10-7, 5-0) holds the lead position, but Hughson (7-7, 5-1) and Ripon (11-4, 4-2) are in hot pursuit of the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champions. The Cougars host Ripon on Tuesday. Chardae Hoskins is one of the toughest outs at the small-school level. The senior is hitting .644 with 29 hits, 11 runs, and seven doubles. She’s also one of three pitchers to regularly toe the slab for coach Art Brooks.
Elsewhere around the Stanislaus District: Patterson (11-5) sits comfortably atop the the Western Athletic Conference standings at 4-0. … Linden (13-5, 9-1) holds a half-game lead on Calaveras (14-2, 8-1) in the Mother Lode League. Amador (10-2, 6-2) also lurks. … Mariposa (11-3, 6-0) tops the Southern League at 6-0, one game ahead of Ripon Christian (10-3, 5-1). … Stone Ridge Christian (9-7, 5-0) and Millennium (9-2, 4-0) have established themselves as the frontrunners in the Central California Athletic Alliance.