In between the wind, rain, hail and, in some places, a few inches of snow, a new season has arrived – high school baseball and softball season, to be specific.
Sheldon is The Bee’s preseason No. 1 softball team, the sixth consecutive season the Huskies and coach Mary Jo Truesdale have started a season as such.
Franklin enters the season top-ranked in baseball as coach Bryan Kilby sports perhaps his best team.
The Wildcats are preseason ranked No. 12 by Cal-Hi Sports, the higest team in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Sheldon is preseason ranked 14th by Cal-Hi, the highest in the section for any softball team in 2019.
The Huskies nearly four-peated as Division I section champions a year ago, falling to Tracy in the finals. Truesdale has led eight D-I championship teams at Sheldon in nine title-game appearances.
The team returns Bee All-Metro players in infielders Shelbie Caro and Sam Oliver, pitchers Kenedi Brown and Grace Owen and outfielder Kiannah Pierce. Oliver hit .451 with 39 RBI last season, Pierce hit .508 with 57 hits and Owen had a 1.45 ERA while going 15-3 for a 25-5 team. Brown went 10-2 with a 1.42 ERA. Also back is four-year varsity player Vianna Barron, a career .358 hitter.
For Franklin, the sting of an early playoff exit as the top seed in the section D-I bracket is still there for a program that shared the Delta League championship with Elk Grove, which opened No. 1 last year, and Jesuit.
But the beauty of baseball is the chance to redeem. Vacaville eliminated Franklin and went on to win its first section title. The Bulldogs host Franklin on Wednesday in a season opener.
Franklin lost Bee Player of the Year Evan Gibbons to Sacramento State, but it does return Nevada-bound do-it-all star Zach Meddings, who batted .348 and went 7-2 with a 1.90 ERA, as well as Pacific-bound pitcher Grant Stevens, outfielder Chase Davis, infielder Nico Regino and utility Jake Pina.
Jesuit is ranked second by The Bee and is ranked 15th in the state by Cal-Hi.
Cousins Daniel Susac, a Bee All-Metro catcher headed to Oregon State, and pitcher Anthony Susac make for a formidable 1-2 punch. Anthony Susac beat Franklin 1-0 in a playoff opener last season. Jesuit and veteran coach Joe Potulny also returns Washington-bound pitcher Carter Benbrook and Northridge-bound Cade Pilchard.
Oak Ridge of the Sierra Foothill League is ranked third under veteran coach Todd Melton, and Elk Grove is ranked fourth under first-year coach Joe Bellotti, a longtime Thundering Herd assistant. He takes over for Jeff Carlson, who in 18 seasons won 450 games, 14 league championships, 10 D-I North banners and eight D-I section titles.
No. 5 Davis, also of the Delta League, is led by longtime coach Dan Ariola.
Defending D-II section champion Del Campo, led by 2018 Bee Coach of the Year Kevin Dawidczik, is ranked sixth. Capital Christian, winners of six section smaller-school section titles since 2013 under coach Nelson Randolph, is ranked seventh.
And Winters, which went 30-1 last season, is ranked eighth under coach Jeff Ingles, who has won 14 Northern Section banners (and three in succession) in 20 title-game appearances.
Del Campo is ranked second in softball by The Bee and is led by Bee All-Metro pitcher Skylar Mitchell and utility Sammie Luckie. Elk Grove, a Delta League rival of Sheldon, is ranked third and is led by Bee All-Metro stars Angelico Cano (infielder) and Ariyana Miranda (utility).
Bella Vista, led by 2018 Bee Coach of the Year Jim Bennett, is fourth and is led by All-Metro outfielders Kelsey Hall and Serena Shine and pitcher Kristina Cavalli.
Wrestling – Vacaville won the section Masters championship in Stockton with a record 262.5 points, beating second place Oakdale (222), third place Del Oro (183), fourth place Vista del Lago (135) and fifth place Franklin (134).
Each of those teams expects to score points at the CIF State Wrestling Championships this weekend in Bakersfield, including Del Oro, which is sending seven athletes.
Local section champions include: Andrew Calbert of Franklin at 106 pounds, Noah Blake of Del Oro at 160, Malik Lewis of Franklin at 182 and Kyle Richards of Folsom at 220.
Calvert is ranked 15th in the state by calgrappler.com. Jimmy Heryford of Sutter is ranked fourth, Evan Ivaldi of Del Oro 13th and Edison Alanis of Franklin 14th at 126.
Brenden Johnson of Del Oro is rated 13th at 132, Elijah Blake of Del Oro fifth and Kendall Frank of Elk Grove ninth at 138. JT Stinson of East Nicolaus ranked third at 152. Noah Blake is second at 160 and Joseph Valdez of Placer 10th at 170. Lewis of Franklin is fifth at 182.
Richards is ranked seventh and Preston Cobabe of Oak Ridge 10th at 220, and Justin Ramos third and Levi Markey fourth at 285.
For CIF State wrestling brackets, visit cifstate.org/sports/wrestling.
Soccer – Jesuit and 12-time section championship coach Paul Rose visits second-seeded Pitman on Tuesday in the D-I section semifinals. Jesuit is seeded third.
No. 4 Whitney visits top-seeded Turlock in the other semifinal. The finals for all section title games, girls and boys, are Thursday at sites to be determined.
In girls, top-seeded Davis hosts No. 4 Oak Ridge in a D-I semifinal on Tuesday. Davis is nationally ranked No. 1 at 18-0-1 and has won the last three D-I section titles under coach Sara Stone, whose teams have gone 61-1-7 since 2017.
Davis has scored 18 goals while allowing none in two playoff routs. Chella Grattet has been among the team leaders for Davis.
In the other D-I semifinal, No. 2 Granite Bay hosts No. 11 Pleasant Grove.
For complete section soccer brackets and results, go to cifsjs.org/sports/wsoc.
The Bee’s preseason Top 20
Last year’s record in parentheses.
1. Franklin (23-8)
2. Jesuit (21-11)
3. Oak Ridge (17-12)
4. Elk Grove (19-7-2)
5. Davis (19-13)
6. Del Campo (26-6-1)
7. Capital Christian (27-6)
8. Winters (30-1)
9. Woodcreek (19-12)
10. Granite Bay (18-13)
11. Yuba City (23-6)
12. Christian Brothers (24-7)
13. Del Oro (17-16)
14. Rocklin (17-9)
15. Lincoln (24-5)
16. Cosumnes Oaks (16-8)
17. Colfax (19-9)
18. Folsom (13-13-1)
19. Ponderosa (17-9)
20. El Dorado (27-5)
Last year’s record in parentheses.
1. Sheldon (25-5)
2. Del Campo (20-3)
3. Elk Grove (21-8-2)
4. Bella Vista (20-10-1)
5. Roseville (18-7-1)
6. Casa Roble (23-7)
7. Oak Ridge (15-7-1)
8. Pleasant Grove (17-9-1)
9. Granite Bay (17-7)
10. Pioneer (17-4-1)
11. East Nicolaus (32-2)
12. Whitney (15-10-1)
13. Woodcreek (13-8)
14. Del Oro (12-10-1)
15. St. Francis (13-12)
16. Davis (12-9)
17. Yuba City (17-8)
18. Christian Brothers (14-9)
19. Sutter (27-1)
20. McClatchy (17-5)