ATWATER — There's no doubt where Greg Wakefield's focus will be when his Buhach Colony High baseball team takes the field tonight for its Sac-Joaquin Section third-round playoff game with league rival Pitman.
But a part of Wakefield's heart will be down South in San Diego.
His daughter, Alyssa, will be graduating from San Diego State a few hours before the Thunder head onto Klein Family Field at the University of Pacific.
"The ceremony is at 4 p.m., so I definitely would have been there if we weren't playing," Wakefield said. "It's not that big of a deal, though. She's already been accepted into the PhD program at Oregon State, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the opportunity to attend a couple more of them."
The Thunder (19-10) will try to keep their momentum going after a dramatic 3-2 extra-inning victory over Tracy on Thursday night.
They'll have to do so against a very familiar opponent in Pitman (17-12-1). The first pitch is set for 7 p.m.
BC swept the Pride in Central California Conference play, but two of the victories were by three runs or less.
"I think both teams are playing really good ball right now," Wakefield said. "They're a young team and we certainly didn't enter the year with a lot of experience, so it seems like both teams are coming into their own.
"Our games against them were some really tight games. Two of them were real pitchers' duels. The third was kind of sloppy and ended up with a score that wasn't indicative as how close it was."
Wakefield said he believes those tight ball games are why three of the four remaining teams in the Division 1 South bracket are from the Central Califonria Conference.
"I think coming in everyone knew that Turlock was a little bit better," Wakefield said. "That left the rest of us to fight for the last two playoff spots.
"It created some good, really close ball games that could have gone either way.
"The other leagues certainly have some really good top teams, but I'm not sure they had our depth."
The Thunder went through some light hitting and fielding drills on Friday afternoon. Wakefield said Kaden Verdin and Jonathan Ruiz will both likely pitch, but as of Friday afternoon he hadn't decided which one would get the start.