As Valencia High baseball huddled after the first of two wins over West Ranch High last week, coach Mike Killinger outlined the team’s three goals. First, qualify for the playoffs. Second, win league. Third, see if they could win a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 crown. “Well, we got one done,” Killinger said of earning a postseason berth. “We almost have two, and we’ll see what the heck happens with three.” Valencia (23-7) beat West Ranch 8-4 on Thursday to clinch an outright Foothill League title and, in the bigger picture, earn a home playoff game. The Vikings learned Monday they’d be hosting Dos Pueblos of Goleta (18-9-1), the No. 2 team out of the Channel League, when Division 1’s first round commences Thursday. Neither of the Foothill League’s other two Division 1 playoff qualifiers – West Ranch and Hart – received a home game in one of the nation’s toughest prep baseball brackets. The Wildcats (19-8), who finished second place in the Foothill League, will be at El Dorado of Placentia (18-8-1), the team that beat Valencia in the first round last year and the 2017 champion of the Crestview League. Hart (20-10), the Foothill’s third-place team, will be at Vista Murrieta (21-8). Vista Murrieta won the Southwestern League, home also to Murrieta Mesa, which beat West Ranch in last season’s D1 semifinals before winning the championship. Murrieta Mesa, though, took a step back this season, finishing in last place. Vista Murrieta went 13-2 in league and have won seven of its last eight games overall. Dos Pueblos, Valencia’s opponent, has won five of its last six, but finished second behind Ventura in league. Ventura wasn’t ranked in the final CIF-SS Division 3 poll released Monday. The Vikings came in at No. 6 in Division 1; West Ranch dropped from No. 3 to No. 9. Hart, on paper, has the toughest first-round matchup of any Foothill team, taking on No. 5 Vista Murrieta. If the Indians win, they would play the winner of Corona and Orange Lutheran. Valencia would play the winner of JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano and Foothill of Santa Ana in the second round. West Ranch could play Harvard-Westlake of Studio City in the second round. Stevenson Ranch resident Hunter Greene and Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (21-8), Division 1’s No. 3 seed, open at home against San Clemente. In Division 6 on Friday, Santa Clarita Christian (13-4) plays at Pomona (16-7), co-champion of the Miramonte League. In Division 7 on Thursday, Albert Einstein Academy, champion of the Omega League, will host Shalhevet of Los Angeles (8-7-1). Trinity Classical Academy (10-9) will play at Coast Union of Cambria (10-7). All games start at 3:15 p.m. (subject to change).
Foothill League champion Valencia (21-7) will open at home Thursday against Great Oak of Temecula (11-8.) Also in D1, Saugus (16-12) will play on the road Thursday against Pacifica of Garden Grove (20-7). Hart (15-12) plays today at home in a Division 3 wild-card game against Royal of Simi Valley (14-13). In D7, SCCS (8-6) opens at No. 1 seed Village Christian of Sun Valley (15-10) on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. All games start at 3:15 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).
Look for a full softball preview in Thursday’s paper.