A rivalry, apparently, doesn’t require true dislike.
Valencia and West Ranch highs —which came in at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll this week — share a mutual respect that hasn’t hindered what’s become the Santa Clarita Valley’s best current baseball rivalry.
“All our players know each other and are buddies,” said West Ranch coach Casey Burrill, whose team sits in first place in the Foothill League at 5-0.
That doesn’t mean there’s no intensity in a matchup the schools have split so far this season, West Ranch winning the Foothill League meeting, 3-2, in eight innings on March 29 and Valencia (4-1 in league) taking the Ryan Lemmon Tournament title game last week.
“We all had our friends and buddies where games of monopoly or cards got hostile trying to win,” Burrill said. “It doesn’t mean you’re not friends or you don’t care about them and wish them luck and success.”
Last season, Burrill’s bunch beat Valencia twice during the last week of the regular season to claim a share of the Foothill League title with the Vikings. That hasn’t created any ill will, though.
“It’s more about we’re all friends,” said Valencia catcher Jake Biscailuz. “We have friends on West Ranch, and they’re friends with us. It’s more of just play baseball and see whichever team comes out on top.”
Biscailuz grew up playing with West Ranch shortstop Nico Valdez, catcher Christos Stefanos, first baseman Will Chambers and pitcher Alex Burge.
“It’s awesome to see those guys grown up,” Biscailuz said. “They’re doing well. We’re doing well. It’s just awesome.”
Valencia plays at Hart today, while West Ranch hosts Golden Valley. The Vikings and Wildcats won’t meet again until the last week of Foothill League play in early May.
In Division 7, Albert Einstein Academy (8-3) dropped from No. 6 to No. 7 this week.
Valencia (13-7) softball dropped one spot to No. 7 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll, released Monday. The Vikings went 3-2 in the Michelle Carew Tournament last week and will return to Foothill League play Thursday at West Ranch.
Valencia held tight at No. 9 in Division 2 this week, with Saugus moving up a spot to No. 3 in Division 3.
The Vikings will face Canyon at home today at 3 p.m. Saugus travels to West Ranch at the same time.