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There's still a handful of baseball games in the CIF Sac-Joaquin and North Coast sections, but it won't matter. The No. 1 baseball team in Northern California for 2002 is the Wilcox Chargers. The choice in softball is not as clear-cut, but it was thought all year that the top team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, regardless of enrollment, might be Brookside Christian of Stockton. And at 32-1, Brookside edges Notre Dame of Salinas and Sheldon of Sacramento for the season's top NorCal ranking.

(Updated after games of Sat. night, May 25)

(For the purposes of our TV show, which does not reach many cities beyond the San Francisco Bay Area, we define Northern California for these rankings as not to include schools from the CIF Central Section. For our own geographically-based rankings, we include the CIF Central Section as Northern California)

Here's the up-to-date baseball rankings after Sat night games:

1. Wilcox (Santa Clara) 34-3 (1)

2. Elk Grove 28-5 (2)

3. Mitty (San Jose) 26-6* (4)

4. Clayton Valley (Concord) 21-5 (14)

5. Newark Memorial (Newark) 24-4-1 (18)

6. Woodland 26-8 (4)

7. Folsom 28-5-1 (9)

8. Serra (San Mateo) 26-9 (7)

9. Valley Christian (San Jose) 28-7 (10)

10. Bellarmine (San Jose) 27-9 (7)

11. St. Francis (Mountain View) 26-9 (8)

12. California (San Ramon) 21-5 (6)

13. Davis 24-7-1 (12)

14. Hollister 24-6 (13)

15. Merced 22-13 (nr)

16. Christian Brothers (Sacramento) 27-8 (16)

17. Lincoln (Stockton) 25-8 (15)

18. Rio Linda 25-5 (19)

19. Berkeley 20-6 (nr)

20. Monterey 29-5 (20)

Notes:

The Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I championship series begins Friday between Elk Grove and Merced. The favored Thundering Herd moved on after a 6-5 win in nine innings last week over Woodland. Bobby Cale went 5-for-5 with two doubles, including a game-winning RBI single, to lead Elk Grove.

The North Coast Section playoffs will enter semifinal mode early this week before the East Bay 3A and 2A title games are held on Saturday at Network Associates Coliseum. If either Clayton Valley or Newark Memorial emerge as the champion, look for that team to receive a high local and state ranking. If Berkeley or Granada is the champion, the NCS champ will have to be ranked behind a number of other teams.

Wilcox took care of the No. 1 ranking for Northern California with wins of 4-3 over Mitty and 9-2 over Serra in the final two rounds of the CCS Div. I playoffs. In the title game win over Serra, Vincent Gutierrez homered in the first inning and finished 4-for-4 with five RBI. Wilcox did not lose a game with either Daniel Romero or Matthew Winck starting as the two pitchers finished 22-0.

So is there a chance Wilcox could be State Team of the Year? Yes, but a small one. The Chargers need for both Bishop Amat of La Puente and La Quinta of Westminster to lose in the Southern Section Div. IV playoffs and it would help if someone other than Rancho Bernardo or Rancho Buena Vista won in the San Diego Section and if someone other than Camarillo won in Southern Section Div. I.

Here's the up-to-date softball rankings (through Saturday's games):

1. Brookside Christian (Stockton) 32-1 (2)

2. Notre Dame (Salinas) 28-3 (3)

3. Sheldon (Sacramento) 29-4-1 (1)

4. Freedom (Oakley) 23-4 (8)

5. Vanden (Travis AFB) 28-1 (4)

6. Deer Valley (Antioch) 23-4 (11)

7. College Park (Pleasant Hill) 23-4 (7)

8. Campolindo (Moraga) 23-2 (9)

9. North Salinas (Salinas) 24-6-1 (12)

10. Fairfield 29-9 (10)

11. Carlmont (Belmont) 27-6

12. Ceres 24-2

13. Mitty (San Jose) 28-6

14. Valley Christian (San Jose) 25-4 (5)

15. St. Francis (Sacramento) 26-9-1

16. Pleasant Valley (Chico) 25-7-2 (nr)

17. Petaluma 19-3

18. Merced 28-7 (nr)

19. Del Oro (Loomis) 23-11-1 (nr)

20. East Union (Manteca) 27-5 (6)

Notes:

Any one of the top three teams can make legitimate claims to be No. 1 in Northern California, but here's why we went with Brookside Christian:

1. Team's only loss was to Mira Mesa of San Diego in the final game of a well-regarded tournament in Las Vegas. Mira Mesa finished 35-1 and won its second consecutive section title.

2. Sheldon did not finish its season unbeaten in the playoffs. A 6-0 loss to Fairfiled last Friday forced the Huskies into a final winner-take-all title game against the Falcons and although they won it, that first loss has to count in any rankings system.

3. Sheldon's last loss before the one to Fairfield was to Thousand Oaks in the title game of the Santa Maria Best of the West tourney. Thousand Oaks has since been eliminated in the CIFSS playoffs and did not win its league.

4. Brookside won its section title by 2-0 over previously unbeaten Vanden, which arguably had the section's second-best pitcher behind Fairfield's Alicia Hollowell in sophomore Anjelica Selden.

5. Notre Dame won its fourth straight CCS Div. IV title and competed in the same league as Div. I champ North Salinas, but had two more losses than Brookside Christian.

6. Most of the top travel ball players in Stockton are now going to Brookside Christian to play for coach Bob Regpala, who previously led nearby Lincoln of Stockton to four State Team of the Year titles in the 1980s. One of Regpala's former players at Lincoln, Candace Harper, just had the game-winning RBI for Cal in the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

7. Brookside Christian is not a small school team with small school talent playing an exclusive small school schedule. Other than its league, Brookside's schedule was played almost mostly against large-school opponents. A valid point can still be made that Notre Dame or Sheldon played a stronger overall schedule, but in our view it wasn't strong enough to negate Brookside's superior overall record.

It's our goal each week to complete these rankings on the same day in which the show airs. But often there are missing scores as well as other missing information, which require us to wait until Monday so we can call schools to fill in the blanks.

Have a great week and be sure to check this site througout the week for our updated state rankings.


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