Ambitious scheduling has been an underlined theme early this high school baseball season, particularly within high-profile teams.
The Bee's top-ranked team, Elk Grove, faced three Northern California powers on the road: Valley Christian of San Jose (a 4-0 win), three-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion St. Mary's of Stockton (a 10-1 win) and MaxPreps NorCal No. 1 and three-time defending North Coast Section D-I champion Campolindo of Moraga (a 4-2 loss).
Nationally ranked No. 7 last week by MaxPreps before dropping out of the poll, the Thundering Herd (4-1) stays local today, visiting second-ranked Oak Ridge.
"Playing a tough schedule really helps because you see the best pitchers and the best teams, and that prepares you for league play, the playoffs and the next level, and it's fun," Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson said.
Oak Ridge (3-0) has beaten former No. 13 Del Campo 4-2, Del Oro 4-0 and previous No. 6 Franklin 5-2. Franklin is the defending section D-I North champion. Oak Ridge is led by shortstop Alec de Watteville and ace Austin Root, who could face the Herd's power-hitting trio of Dom Nunez, Rowdy Tellez and Derek Hill.
Herd ace David Smith beat Valley Christian and took the loss at Campolindo against Oregon-bound pitcher Trent Shelton.
Other intriguing nonleague games today:
No. 5 Davis at No. 6 Pleasant Grove Coaches Dan Ariola of the Blue Devils and Rob Rinaldi of the Eagles have been friends since their Davis youth days in the 1970s.
No. 20 Del Campo at No. 13 Nevada Union The Cougars are off to a slow start (2-3), while the Miners have started fast (4-1).
No. 17 Capital Christian vs. Christian Brothers One of many prep games this season at Raley Field under the lights (6 p.m.).
Et cetera Under first-year coach Eddie Cervantes, Inderkum is 5-0 and debuts in The Bee's rankings at No. 14. The Tigers beat No. 19 Rosemont 13-11 and previously ranked Cordova 10-5.
Sophomore Austin Thurman already has three home runs. Ace Carl Anderson struck out 11 in a 6-3 win over Valley Christian.
No. 4 Rocklin beat Davis 3-2 behind pitchers Logan Webb and Austin Dick, who outdueled Bobby Young. The Thunder (2-2) has beaten Oakdale 6-5 and lost to St. Mary's 2-1 and Leigh of San Jose 4-3. Rocklin visits No. 9 Franklin on Thursday.
No. 18 Lincoln is 7-0 behind Ethan Liddle (.684 batting average, 13 hits, nine RBIs and 11 runs) and ace Jake Sola (3-0).
Austin Friello of Pleasant Grove doesn't look like a power hitter at 160 pounds, but he has three homers, two in an 11-0 win over Franklin.
Davis and No. 7 Jesuit meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Raley Field. The Marauders (3-1) opened with a 4-2 loss to Tokay and have beaten Valley Christian 7-3, Pioneer 4-2 and St. Mary's 4-2.