Joe Davidson

Why the Sac-Joaquin Section is taking a swing at something new with baseball playoffs

Franklin High's Evan Gibbons cheers on his team in a game against Davis last week. The Wildcats are the top seed in Division I, as the Sac-Joaquin Section baseball playoff brackets were released Thursday.
Franklin High's Evan Gibbons cheers on his team in a game against Davis last week. The Wildcats are the top seed in Division I, as the Sac-Joaquin Section baseball playoff brackets were released Thursday. hamezcua@sacbee.com

There is a new twist to the Sac-Joaquin Section baseball playoffs in Division I, and it figures to make the championship quest all the more intriguing.

After 41 years of crowning a D-I North champion, or a "City Champion," heading into the section finals against the South winner, the section has adjusted the large-school pool to a 16-team bracket.

This is a good move for the regional heavies used to competing in the field as the North bracket of Sacramento-area teams generally had a much more difficult time reaching the finals than the teams from the South.

The North was overwhelmingly better, winning 23 of the past 26 section championships, including 16 of 17 at one point.

In softball, there are no changes as the tournaments have long been seeded since its inception in 1976.

The Delta League tri-champions in baseball occupy three of the top four D-I seeds with Franklin earning the No. 1 nod and opening Tuesday at home against 16-seed Franklin of Stockton.

Franklin is especially strong in pitching with ace Evan Gibbons and Grant Stevens.

Three-time defending section champion Elk Grove is the No. 2 seed and opens against No. 15 Kennedy. The No. 4 seed is Jesuit, which opens against No. 13 Gregori of Modesto.

The No. 3 seed is St. Mary's of Stockton, which this season has beaten Jesuit, lost to Franklin and tied with Elk Grove, as all sorts of data and head-to-head results were used to determine seeds.

Four-time Sierra Foothill League champion Oak Ridge, seeded fifth, starts with No. 12 McClatchy, led by Cal-bound ace Jack Hinrichsen, who has three consecutive no-hitters.

Davis of the Delta League is the No. 6 seed and starts with No. 11 Modesto, and Vacaville of the Monticello Empire League opens against yet another Delta member in Pleasant Grove. Vacaville looms as a dangerous 7-seed as a proven program that has faced a strong schedule.

Elk Grove, Jesuit and Davis have combined to win 18 titles since 1990, 10 of those by the Thundering Herd.

Del Campo is the top seed in D-II and starts with Vintage on Tuesday, with Sierra Foothill League members sure to make an impact. Among those schools are No. 2 Woodcreek, No. 4 Granite Bay and No. 11 Del Oro.

Defending champion Christian Brothers is the top seed in D-III and opens against No. 16 Rosemont. Yuba City is seeded second.

El Dorado is the top seed in D-IV, which has 13 teams instead of the 16 in the higher divisions. Woodland is second.

Visit the section's website for complete playoff brackets.

Softball

Three-time defending champion Sheldon is the top seed in D-I. Play begins Monday at home sites.

Sheldon, an eight-time champion under section Hall of Fame coach Mary Jo Truesdale, opens against Chavez of Stockton and features anchor stars Grace Owen and Shea Moreno.

Delta League rival Pleasant Grove is seeded third in D-I and opens against Lincoln of Stockton, seeded 14th.

In D-II, Del Campo is the No. 1 seed, opposite of No. 2 Elk Grove.

Woodland Christian is No. 1 in D-VI, but no other local teams earned top seeds in the lower divisions.

Visit the section's website for complete playoff brackets.

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