The best way to accelerate the growth of a young team, high school coaches say, is to schedule tough competition.
Two years removed from a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North baseball championship and a season after a return to the North finals, Franklin coach Bryan Kilby wasn’t sure what to expect this spring when he trotted out a team with four seniors.
The No. 5 Wildcats are off to an encouraging start behind ace Cameron Keup and third-year starting shortstop Hank LoForte, a junior. Franklin (5-2) has beaten No. 15 Christian Brothers 3-2, No. 19 Bradshaw Christian 8-2, No. 9 Rocklin 1-0 and No. 11 Granite Bay 7-1. Against Rocklin, Keup earned the win, and against Granite Bay, he had three hits and four RBIs on a day when junior Isaiah Engman threw six innings.
Franklin opens Delta Valley Conference play at defending champion and Bee No. 3 Davis on Thursday as Keup will battle Blue Devils ace Matt Trask.
“We’re playing well, but it doesn’t get any easier,” Kilby said.
Around the bases – No. 2 Pleasant Grove visits Granite Bayon Tuesday in a nonleague meeting. The Eagles will start Matt Stafford or Dalton Gomez against Granite Bay’s Mitch Hart, who has committed to USC. Pleasant Grove has defeated Franklin 9-1 and Davis 7-1.
• Top-ranked Elk Grove beat No. 7 Oak Ridge 2-1 when Carlos Moseley drove in Nick Madrigal with a hit in the bottom of the seventh inning to preserve a good pitching outing by Chris Martin and Ty Madrigal. The Thundering Herd hosts No. 10 Grant on Thursday.
• No. 6 Bella Vista (6-0) has beaten Oak Ridge 8-5 and No. 14 Yuba City 6-2. The Broncos host No. 17 Nevada Union on Tuesday . Pitchers Brad Galisatus and Jake Bjorni are 2-0 for Bella Vista.
• Davis and No. 4 Jesuit played to a 4-4, eight-inning tie Friday night at Raley Field. Neither coach fully understood the Raley Field mandate was no game could exceed 21/2 hours or more than eight innings, though Dan Ariola of Davis and Joe Potulny of Jesuit did see the posted rules on the dugout walls afterward. “It would’ve been nice to play this one out, but we can’t complain because it’s great to play here,” Ariola said.
• After starting 0-4, No. 5 Elk Grove continued its rebound with a 9-3 victory over top-ranked Pleasant Grove, scoring six runs in the sixth inning. The Herd (4-4) also has beaten No. 2 Sheldon 7-2. Elk Grove hosts No. 7 Casa Robleon Tuesday and No. 12 Del Campo on Wednesday.
• Del Campo opens Capital Valley Conference play Friday at Casa Roble, extending a decades-long rivalry. Cougars ace Brooke Larsen is 6-1 with a 1.14 ERA, and Maggie West leads the offense with a .545 average and five doubles.
• No. 3 Pioneer, at 7-0 the area’s only unbeaten team, is led by pitcher Angelica Dark and catcher Rylie Carlier. The Patriots will be tested on April 1 when they host their crosstown rival, No. 18 Woodland, in a Tri-County Conference game. Pioneer is the defending section Division III champion.
• Bear River sophomore ace Nerissa Long leads the section with 89 strikeouts in just 56 innings. She pitched the Bruins past Del Oro 4-3, the 350th win for coach Duane Zauner.
• Davis athletic director Dennis Foster resigned in the wake of a controversy in which the Davis Joint Unified School District declined to retain Blue Devils volleyball coach Julie Crawford but approved her return after the months-long saga made national news.
• John DePonte, who coached the Pleasant Grove boys to the state Division I basketball title in 2013, has stepped down. He cited a need to spend more time with family.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD. Trevor Horn contributed to this story.