HANFORD — It’s that time of year again where baseball and softball teams go for Central Section glory. With the brackets released on Saturday, a total of six local baseball and softball teams qualified for the postseason. Many received first-round home games with softball beginning today and baseball on Wednesday.
The Bullpups received the No. 9 seed in the CIF Central Section Division II bracket after posting a 13-11 overall record and 6-4 West Yosemite League record good for third place. They closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak and have some momentum heading into the playoffs.
Hanford will face No. 8 seed Bakersfield (14-13, 7-8 SYL), who finished tied for third in the Southwest Yosemite League. The Bullpups defeated the Drillers 9-2 in the first round last season. The winner will face No. 1 seed San Joaquin Memorial (24-5, 13-2 CML) in the quarterfinals.
According to MaxPreps, shortstop Clay Gillum led the Bullpups with a .288 batting average (minimum 50 plate appearances) and 25 hits during the regular season. Gillum also led the team with nine extra-base hits (eight doubles, one triple). Beau Wilkinson and Daylon Davis tied for the team lead of 13 runs and Trey Knight had a team-high 12 RBIs.
Juaron Watts-brown (3-1) led the pitching staff with a team-best 1.88 ERA (minimum 30 innings pitched) and 55 strikeouts. He allowed 12 earned runs in nine appearances.
The first-round game is scheduled for Wednesday at Bakersfield High School at 4:30 p.m.
Fresh off their sixth consecutive East Sequoia League championship, Sierra Pacific received the No. 1 seed in Division IV for a second year in a row. The Golden Bears were 21-3 overall and a perfect 12-0 in the ESL.
It’s their third season in a row with a perfect league record and the Golden Bears stretched their league winning streak to 42 games in a row.
Sierra Pacific will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and will face Madera South (5-23, 0-15 CML). The Golden Bears defeated the Stallions 10-0 in six innings in the Selma Easter Tournament on April 17.
Sierra Pacific catcher Gavin Vangronigen led the team with a .424 batting average, 28 hits and 16 RBIs. Vangronigen also led the team in extra-base hits with six (five doubles, one triple). Elias Garcia had a team-high 21 runs with Vangronigen in second with 19.
Pitcher Will Spinger led the Golden Bears with a 7-1 record, 48 2/3 innings pitched, four complete games and 80 strikeouts before he was shut down for the rest of the season. He will still hit, but is not available to pitch. Zach Barber led the team with a 1.64 ERA over 42 2/3 innings.
The Golden Bears have won five games in a row, while the Stallions have lost their last six. The game is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
The Bullpups won the West Yosemite League championship for the first time in three seasons and did it by posting a 9-1 league record. Hanford was 21-6 overall, which is the first time they’ve won 20 or more games in over 15 seasons.
Add all of that up and it led to the No. 2 seed in Division II and a first-round bye. The Bullpups were one of five teams to receive a bye and will play their first game on Thursday in the quarterfinals. They will face the winner of No. 7 Ridgeview versus No. 10 Garces Memorial.
During the season, Ashlyn Vidana led the Bullpups with a .384 batting average and 28 hits. Emily Juarez led the team with 21 runs and Mia Hernandez drove in a team-high 23 runs.
Arrysa Danell was outstanding in the circle again this season. She sported a 1.24 ERA with 89 strikeouts and a 6.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 appearances. Danell had a 15-2 record with eight complete games and seven shutouts.
The Huskies contended for a Central Sequoia League title all season long, but ended up tied for second place and a game behind first place. They still had an excellent season with an 18-9 record and 9-3 league record.
Hanford West received the six seed in Division I and will host No. 11 seed Clovis West (10-17, 3-7 TRAC) today at 4:30 p.m. The two teams played against each other twice this season with the Huskies winning both meetings. In the first game, Hanford west won 7-5 and the second was a 2-1 victory in the Clovis Easter Classic.
The Tigers earned the No. 6 seed in Division III after going 11-9-1 overall and ending third in the WYL with a 6-4 record. Lemoore picked up some steam in the second half of the season and enter the playoffs having won six of their final eight games.
They will face No. 11 seed Santa Maria (10-16, 4-6 OL), who finished tied for fourth in the Ocean League and lost their final two games to end the regular season.
Sierra Phelps was a big part of the Tigers’ success this season. She led the team in every major statistical category: batting average (.437), hits (31), RBIs (18) and runs (18). She also led the team in slugging .605 and OPS 1.080.
Pitching was one of the areas the Tigers struggled in this season. Their two starters combined for a 4.1 ERA and had more walks (43) than strikeouts (33).
The Tigers will host the first-round game today at 4:30 p.m.
The Golden Bears won their second consecutive East Sequoia League championship after finishing 12-0 in league play and concluding with a doubleheader on the final day of the season. The team also finished 20-6 overall, which is the first time since 2015 they reached the 20-win mark in a season.
Their efforts earned them the five seed in the Division V bracket and a home playoff game for the first time in three seasons. Sierra Pacific will face 12-seed Caruthers (16-11, 8-4 WSL). The Blue Raiders finished tied for second in the West Sequoia League.
The Golden Bears have hitters all along their lineup and had six players bat .500 or better. Mikayla Hoggard led the team in batting average (.623), Chloe Correia in hits (42), Lauren Simas in runs (35) and Desiree Orosco in RBIs (28).
Lauren Alarcon led the Golden Bears in the circle with a 2.3 ERA and 100 strikeouts. She had a 15-3 record in 20 appearances.
Sierra Pacific enters the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak and firing on all cylinders. The first-round game is today at 4:30 p.m.
The full brackets can be found on the CIF Central Section website.