The Valley Oak League co-champions will be favorites to win Sac-Joaquin Section softball titles once the postseason begins next week.
State-ranked Oakdale is the No. 1 seed in the Division III tournament. The Mustangs draw No. 16 Bethel in Monday’s opening round game.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
The Mustangs are paced by senior Grace Green, an Oklahoma-bound third baseman, and junior Lexi Webb, arguably the most versatile talent in the Stanislaus District. Webb, who has committed to South Alabama, ranks among the area’s leaders in hitting (.561, nine homers, 38 RBIs) and pitching (15-1, 0.68 ERA), while Green has nine homers, 31 RBIs and a .542 average.
(Click here to see the 2018 Sac-Joaquin Section spring playoff brackets)
Oakdale’s path to the section final may include a second round showdown with No. 8 Patterson, which hosts No. 9 Christian Brothers in its opener.
The Mustangs climbed as high as No. 13 in Cal-Hi Sports’ state poll after winning its first 18 games. Oakdale’s only loss is to Sierra, 1-0, on May 2.
Led by Nebraska-bound ace Lindsey Walljasper, the Timberwolves are the defending D-IV champion. Walljasper is 10-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 120 strikeouts.
Yet, the section crown and a split of the VOL title weren’t enough to warrant a top seed from the playoff committee.
Instead, Sierra will look to become the first repeat champion in the D-IV tournament since 2010 (Bear River) as the No. 2 seed.
A potential showdown with Ripon, a small-school heavyweight and former D-V champion, awaits in the second round.
Mother Lode League champion Calaveras is the bracket’s top overall seed. The top two seeds receive a bye.
For divisions I through IV, the first and second rounds will be played at home sites before shifting to the Arnaiz Stadium softball complex in Stockton. Divisions V through VII will begin play at Arnaiz Stadium in the second round.
Here’s a closer look at the section’s softball brackets:
Division I: Gregori coach Kassey Govea hoped the three-time defending Modesto Metro Conference champions would drop to Division II with a first-round home game. Instead, the ninth-seeded Jaguars will have to open the D-I tournament with a road trip to No. 8 Turlock, the Central California Conference champion. The Jaguars travel with momentum, though, having won eight straight. … MMC runner-up Enochs travels to Oak Ridge.
Division II: Atwater won six of its last eight games, including an extra-inning victory over Turlock. That was enough to impress the seeding committee, which rewarded the Falcons with a No. 5 seed and a home game against Lodi.
Division III: No. 6 Golden Valley hosts No. 11 Pacheco in an all-Stanislaus District opener. The Cougars are making their first playoff appearance since 2006. … No. 14 Beyer travels to No. 3 Casa Robles, while No. 7 East Union begins its bid for a fourth section title against Yuba City.
Division IV: No. 9 Los Banos visits No. 8 Dixon in Monday’s opener. If the Tigers can pull off the mild upset an even greater challenge awaits: top-seeded Calaveras, the three-time defending Mother Lode League champion. … No. 11 Orestimba, a four-time section champion, opens at No. 6 Kimball, while seventh-seeded Ripon hosts No. 10 Lindhurst.
Division V: Escalon is the defending champion and the top overall seed. The Cougars draw No. 8 Waterford and could potentially see Trans-Valley League rival Hilmar in the second round. The fifth-seeded Yellowjackets open with No. 4 Amador. …. No. 3 Hughson hosts No. 6 Mariposa, the 2017 finalist. … No. 2 Linden faces traditional power Bear River, the No. 7 seed.
Division VI: No. 3 Argonaut is the only Stanislaus District team in the bracket. The Mustangs welcome No. 6 Rio Vista.
Division VII: Could we see a rematch of last season’s final? Central California Athletic Alliance champion Stone Ridge Christian is the No. 1 seed, while reigning champion Ripon Christian is No. 2. Stone Ridge opens with Hughes Academy, while the Knights host Elliot Christian. … Don’t overlook Big Valley Christian, the 2016 champions and No. 6 seed. The Lions travel to No. 3 Valley Christian.