Hot-hitting Whitney High School of Cerritos, with its best team in eight years, opens the Southern Section 1-A baseball playoffs Tuesday afternoon at Faith Baptist.
The Wildcats, coached by Bill Crissman, finished the regular season with a 16-5 record and were 10-4 in the Olympic League, second to Valley Christian. But Whitney owns a 12-5 victory over Valley Christian and is the only team that has defeated the Crusaders.
Tacho Rios has been Whitney's best all-around player. The senior had a 6-1 league pitching record with a 2.82 earned-run average and 44 strikeouts in 44 innings. He also batted .383 in the league and led the team with 12 stolen bases.
But Rios' batting average was only fourth-highest on the Wildcats, whose team average was .346.
Senior third baseman Harry Kim hit .477 with 17 runs batted in, senior outfielder Ji Han Kim hit .449 with 14 RBIs and junior catcher Jason Pereira was next with a .391 average and 14 RBIs.
Jason Hill, a junior first baseman, led the Wildcats in home runs with four.
"The competitive nature of the Olympic League has prepared us well for the playoffs," Crissman said.
Faith Baptist, champion of the Delphic League, is 13-5.
Valley Christian (18-1) will open the playoffs at home Tuesday afternoon against the winner of Friday's Kern Valley-Serrano wild-card game.
Most of the area teams will start the playoffs Friday afternoon. Here's a look at the games, all of which start at 3:15 p.m.
Moore League champion and second-seeded Lakewood (21-5) will play host to St. Bernard (14-8-1). Millikan (17-5) will be at Hart (15-6) and Jordan (16-8) will play Angelus League champion St. John Bosco (20-4). Mission League champion St. Paul (18-6) plays host to Diamond Bar (18-8). Schurr (13-6) will travel to Baldwin Park (14-4-1).
Gahr (17-6), champion of the San Gabriel Valley League, has a home game against La Habra (12-8). Cerritos (17-7), the SGVL runner-up, will be at Troy (15-8), and third-place Paramount (15-6-1), which defeated Torrance, 6-0, in a wild-card game Tuesday, will play at Dana Hills (19-7).
Vern Brock's La Serna Lancers, who won the Whitmont League championship and are 18-4, open at home against Victor Valley (14-13). La Mirada (17-5-2), the Suburban League champion, will play host to El Monte (13-7). Pioneer (14-5) will be at Apple Valley (17-6) and Mayfair (12-10) will be at Santiago (20-6). Norwalk (14-8-1), which beat California, 5-3, in a wild-card game Tuesday, will be at Estancia (17-7).
St. Anthony (10-9) will play a wild-card game Friday afternoon at Mary Star (13-11). Cantwell (12-5), which won the Santa Fe League championship, will play at home Tuesday against the winner of Friday's Cathedral-Temecula Valley game.
In Friday afternoon games, Pioneer Baptist (9-6) will play host to Mesrobian (9-6), Leffingwell Christian (11-5) will be at home against First Lutheran (12-8) and Avalon (11-7) travels to Cal Lutheran (8-3).