Two schools that have a history of success on the baseball diamond have the unenviable task of meeting early in the postseason.
As openers go, the CIF Southern Section-Toyota Baseball Championships Division III playoff draw that pits Ocean View against La Quinta of Westminster might be one of the division's best first-round games.
The Seahawks and Aztecs open postseason play at 3:15 p.m. today at Ocean View.
Ninth-ranked Ocean View comes into today's clash as champion of the Golden West League, having marched to the title with a 13-2 record. Overall, the Seahawks are 17-9.
On paper, La Quinta (16-11 overall) is the No. 3 team out of the Garden Grove League but don't be fooled: the Aztecs just missed first-place and a share of the title by one game.
The first-round game is the first meeting between the teams this season.
"La Quinta is and has been a great program over the last two decades," Ocean View Coach Shane Borowski said. "Seventeen league titles in a row is something remarkable, and they almost got another one this year. We've got to show up ready to play and to take it to them."
One key player for Ocean View is junior Blake Walker, who is a serious contender Golden West League Most Valuable Player honors. Walker carries a .429 batting average with six doubles and two home runs and also went 6-0 as a pitcher in league play. Sophomore utility player Colton Johnson has been steady on defense (4-2 record and two saves as a pitcher) and a catalyst on offense (.451 league batting average, 11 for 11 in stolen bases) and senior starters Kevin Nance, Aaron Delgado, Nick Schulenburg and Matt Larsen has proven that, as Borowski said, "their leadership and experience can pave the way for a successful playoff run."
Ocean View won its first CIF title in baseball in 1998 and its second in 2005. Last year, the Seahawks reached the second-round of the playoffs, where they were eliminated by Downey.
"We've got a good group of kids that play well together and I would love to have them keep playing together," Borowski said. "To succeed in the playoffs, you need the kind of chemistry that we have, as well as some hot hitters, solid defense and a little bit of luck.
"Our big question mark is the pitching. Usually teams that go deep into the playoffs do so because they have at least one, usually two, guys that can shut down an offense, guys that get a lot of strikeouts. We don't have that. We pitch to contact and let our defense work for us.
"We've played a very tough schedule this year, especially out of league, and we're ready for a dog fight. We're ready to do some damage and are excited to see where it takes us."
Ocean View is one of several local teams to open the CIF playoffs in baseball and softball today.
In Division I baseball, Edison — champion of the Sunset League — is home to Dana Hills (South Coast at-large). The Dolphins defeated Hueneme, 7-1, in a wild-card game Tuesday. The Chargers, who reached last year's title game, are the No. 4 seed in this year's tournament.
Fountain Valley received an at-large bid to the Division I playoffs and also played a wild-card game Tuesday. The Barons were eliminated after losing at Vista Murrieta, 5-4.
Softball Marina, which shared the Sunset League championship with Esperanza but enters the Division I playoffs with the league's No. 1 seed, hosts Villa Park, the No. 3 team from the Century League. A win today would send the Vikings into a second-round game Tuesday against the winner of another first-round game today between Sea View League champ Trabuco Hills and Kennedy (Empire No. 3).
Edison, the No. 3 team from the Sunset League, is on the road to face Empire League runner-up Valencia of Placentia in another Division I match-up. The winner of that game advances to potentially face top-seed and Foothill League winner Valencia of Valencia in a second-round game Tuesday.
Like its baseball brethren, Golden West League champion Ocean View is home today for its Division IV opener and will host La Quinta of Westminster (Garden Grove No. 3). A win today and the Seahawks move on to face either South Torrance (Pioneer League No. 2) or Hemet (Sunbelt No. 2) in a second-round game Tuesday.
Huntington Beach earned an at-large bid to the Division I playoffs and played a Tuesday wild-card game at Tustin. The Oilers had their season ended by the Tillers, who scored a 3-2 victory. Tustin took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run home run by Margaret Wilkins. Huntington rallied to tie the score in the top of the seventh on a single by sophomore Samantha Santopaolo, pinch-hit single by Marci Johnston and a two-run line-drive double down the left-field line by senior Courtney Dial that scored Santopaolo and pinch runner Jillian Martinez. Senior Lauren Stuhr then laced a line drive to right field that nearly fell, but a shoestring catch by the Tustin right fielder led to an inning-ending play.
Tustin scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh when Hannah Sommer singled to right to score Lexi Sanchez, who reached base on an infield error.
Vicki Galasso went three for four with a double to lead the Huntington offense. Seniors playing their final game as an Oiler were Dial, Stuhr, Meghan White, Amanda Horowitz, Cory Schlinsog, Stephanie Breeze and Kari Boyer.