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High Desert softball, baseball playoff picture

Playoff time has returned to the diamond. There are 11 baseball teams and 12 softball teams from the local area competing in the postseason, which starts today with wild card round play. Here’s a quick look into both sports:

Baseball


RANKED TEAMS: Oak Hills is No. 7 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 rankings and No. 5 in the division according to maxpreps.com.


LAST YEAR’S TOP POSTSEASON PERFORMER: Hesperia, Granite Hills and Silverado each advanced to the second round.


LOCAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Oak Hills (Mojave River League), Academy for Academic Excellence (Agape League) and Riverside Prep (Cross Valley League) each went undefeated league play. Granite Hills won its third Desert Sky League title in four years, but lost one game to second-place finisher Victor Valley.


WHICH DIVISION?: The DSL is in Div. 4, the MRL is in Div. 5, the AL is in Div. 6 and the CVL is in Div. 7.


WILD-CARD GAMES: Division 4 — Montclair at Victor Valley; Chaffey at Burroughs. Division 5 — Twentynine Palms at Serrano. Division 6 — Mojave at Excelsior; Silver Valley at Bloomington Christian.


FIRST-ROUND GAMES: Division 4 — TBD at Granite Hills. Division 5 — TBD at Oak Hills; Sultana at Tahquitz. Division 6 — Calvary Chapel/ Moreno Valley at Academy for Academic Excellence; Victor Valley Christian at Desert Christian.


FIVE IMPACT PLAYERS: Oak Hills’ Christian Fillingame, Academy for Academic’s Jacob Calvert, Granite Hills’ Brandon Chambers, Victor Valley’s Ryan Dickinson and Riverside Prep’s Alex Ruiz.


NOTABLE: The Desert Sky League’s three playoff teams went a combined 16-17 against nonleague competition this season.


SLEEPER TEAMS: It’s tough to call Granite Hills a sleeper when it won its third league title in four seasons, but after going 3-6 in the preseason, the Cougars have slid under the radar.
OUR TAKE: Armed with a strong two-headed pitching monster in Adolfo Espinoza and Robert Martinez, as well as a potent offense, Oak Hills looks to have the best chance to make a deep run in their first appearance in the postseason. Beyond the Bulldogs, don’t expect too many other local schools to rack up much gas mileage.

Softball


RANKED TEAMS: Apple Valley is ranked No. 8 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 poll, followed by Oak Hills at No. 9. University Prep is No. 8 in Div. 7.


LAST YEAR’S TOP POSTSEASON PERFORMER: Hesperia, Academy for Academic Excellence and Victor Valley Christian each reached the quarterfinals.


LOCAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: University Prep (CVL) and Victor Valley Christian (AL) didn’t lose in league play. Apple Valley and Oak Hills finished as co-MRL champions, and Barstow clinched the DSL the final week.


WHICH DIVISION?: The MRL is in Div. 4, the DSL is in Div. 5, the AL is in Div. 6 and the CVL is in Div. 7.


WILD-CARD GAMES: Division 4 — Palm Springs at Serrano. Division 5 — Montebello at Silverado. Division 6 — Silver Valley at San Jacinto Valley Academy; Desert at Hesperia Christian. Division 7 — Academy of Careers and Excellence at Desert Christian.


FIRST-ROUND GAMES: Division 4 — TBD at Apple Valley; TBD at Oak Hills. Division 5 — TBD at Barstow; Marymount at Burroughs. Division 6 — Academy for Academic Excellence at Rim of the World; Connellly at Victor Valley Christian. Division 7 — TBD at University Prep; Hamilton at Riverside Prep.


FIVE IMPACT PLAYERS: Barstow’s Taylor Purdy, Apple Valley’s Grayson Harvey, Victor Valley Christian’s Elise Westbury, Serrano’s Jessica Jett and Academy for Academic Excellence’s Cassie Williams.


NOTABLE: Victor Valley Christian’s seniors haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs before the quarterfinals during their prep careers, and they went to the semifinals in their first two seasons.


SLEEPER TEAMS: Serrano has shown an ability to compete with anybody when it gets its hitting going. If the Diamondbacks can keep their bats going in the postseason, they could make a return to the semifinals for the first time in four years.


OUR TAKE: It wouldn’t be surprising to see a number of teams make a deep run in the postseason, but youth could be a factor for several of the top local squads. Victor Valley Christian brings back the most postseason experience of anyone, but could have a tough time getting through the bracket without being ranked.


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