Studio City Harvard-Westlake (26-3), which became the first baseball team to go unbeaten in Mission League play in more than 15 years and finished the regular season with a 16-game winning streak, on Monday was seeded No. 1 for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The Wolverines were ranked No. 1 by The Times in the preseason and have lived up to expectations, relying on pitcher Sam Hliboki (10-0), strong defense and young pitching depth to earn the favorite's role in the division. There's no guarantee the favorites will even make it to the final because of the number of quality pitchers and teams in the division.
"I don't know if there isn't a team without two quality arms," Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert said.
Harvard-Westlake will be the home team in its opener Friday against the winner of Wednesday's wild-card game between Valencia and Westlake Village Oaks Christian.
Huntington Beach is seeded No. 2. Orange Lutheran, armed with Cole Winn (0.25 ERA), Southern California's No. 1 pro pitching prospect, , is No. 3 and La Mirada is No. 4.
In Division 2, Irvine Beckman gets the No. 1 seed with Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro No. 2.
The best opening matchup is Thursday's Division 2 clash between Ventura St. Bonaventure and pitcher Jake Saum and Simi Valley and pitcher Owen Sharts. The game will be played next to the campus of Sacred Heart School off Highway 126 and Wells Road in Ventura. Saum, a junior committed to UCLA, struck out 19 batters in a game this season. Sharts, a Nevada signee, has been one of the best pitchers this season.
The Southern Section still hasn't determined a site for the Division 1, 2 and 3 championship games. They will be played at Cal State Fullerton or Blair Field in Long Beach, depending on who might be hosting an NCAA regional.
In the City Section, the West Valley League was given the top four seeds for the first Open Division playoffs, with No. 1 Reseda Cleveland, No. 2 Chatsworth, No. 3 Lake Balboa Birmingham and No. 4 El Camino Real each receiving first-round byes. The City championship game is June 2 at Dodger Stadium.
In Southern Section softball, Norco was given the No. 1 seed in Division 1, with Los Alamitos No. 2.
Norco is 24-3. Last season, the team was led by pitcher Taylor Dockins, the state player of the year. Sarah Willis is the ace this season.