Cal junior softball catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt stopped by Monday to watch her Sheldon High School alma mater play against Elk Grove in a nonleague game.
Ziegenhirt, with former Sheldon players Jolene and Danielle Henderson, has helped lead Cal to a 45-3 record and the nation's No. 1 collegiate ranking.
From the time Ziegenhirt and Jolene Henderson were Sheldon freshmen in 2005 until Danielle Henderson's graduation last spring, coach Mary Jo Truesdale's Huskies won three Sac-Joaquin Section Division I titles and finished runners-up twice.
"I wanted to suit Lindsey up and see if Jeff (Alexander, Elk Grove's coach) would notice," Truesdale joked after the Huskies' 4-3 win in a matchup of the past two D-I section champs.
But there's no doubt Sheldon these days could use Ziegenhirt and the Hendersons. Jolene is 26-1 as a junior pitcher, and freshman Danielle is hitting .302 as the starting third baseman.
Sheldon has had its ups and downs this season and is battling for a playoff spot entering the Delta River League's last three games.
The No. 7 Huskies entered the week in a three-way tie for first with No. 3 St. Francis and No. 6 Ponderosa. One game behind was No. 5 Pleasant Grove. Only three will make the playoffs.
"The Delta River League has been called the 'Super League' ever since it was created (in 2007), and it absolutely is," Truesdale said. "There is going to be one team with the potential to be a section champion who isn't going to make the playoffs."
Before winning its last three, Sheldon lost back-to-back league games for the first time in eight seasons.
The Huskies fell 9-0 at Ponderosa and 4-0 to Pleasant Grove. The Eagles scored all four runs in the seventh inning, aided by three Sheldon errors.
Sloppy fielding has been an issue for the Huskies this season. They beat Elk Grove on Monday despite five errors.
"We're working hard on the basics and taking extra infield," said Truesdale, in her 15th season as the school's only softball coach. "It's just a matter of having a positive attitude to not let one mistake turn into two."
Sheldon hosts St. Francis today and Ponderosa on Friday, then finishes up next Wednesday at Pleasant Grove.
With seven seniors, Truesdale is looking to finish strong.
She said senior strikeout ace Alexis Cooper (12-5, 2.01 ERA), is throwing the ball harder lately.
Senior catcher MeShalon Moore (.373, 17 RBIs) and senior center fielder Danielle Wiltz (.371, 19 runs scored) are providing the offense and defense.
Speedy second baseman Zamari Hinton is back in the leadoff spot after missing nearly a month with ankle and hip injuries. She was hitting .611 before her injury.
"The girls are used to this," Truesdale said of the upcoming do-or-die games. "They handle pressure situations pretty well."
Stretch run Thanks to sisters Christina and Catherine Guidry, No. 14 Vista del Lago appears poised to win its first league title after finishing second last season to Cosumnes Oaks in the Sierra Valley Conference.
Catherine, a center fielder, is batting .475; Christina, a third baseman, is batting .415. Both will play next season at UC Davis.
Pondo's power Pitcher Paris Hallums has Ponderosa in the Delta River League title chase with an 8-1 overall record and 1.03 ERA.
But she's getting plenty of support.
The Bruins are hitting .338 as a team, with three starters batting .400 or better: Natalie Kessing (.491), Taylor Eilders (.422) and Skye Jerpbak (.419).
THE BEE'S TOP 20
Records through Monday;
PR previous record
|1. Del Oro||16-3-2||1|
|3. St. Francis||14-7-1||3|
|4. Casa Roble||14-3||4|
|5. Pleasant Grove||14-9||6|
|8. Elk Grove||12-4-1||7|
|9. Del Campo||12-5-1||5|
|12. Bear River||13-4-2||13|
|13. Vista del Lago||14-4||14|
|14. Cosumnes Oaks||15-6-1||15|