Stanislaus District playoff races hitting the homestretch

Time is running out as Stanislaus District baseball, softball and soccer teams battle for a precious few berths in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

A few fortunate teams already have their ticket in hand -- Beyer and Turlock in baseball; Johansen, Oakdale and Escalon in softball; Enochs and Ripon in soccer, to name a few.

Most teams, however, enter the final week of the regular season needing to win games or get help if they hope to be playing in the postseason.

Some key baseball games are today:

Enochs can secure the Modesto Metro No. 2 seed -- the MMC gets just two -- by beating Davis today. The Eagles can expect to face ace Jake Sisco (9-2, 1.01 ERA). If the Spartans win, and the winner will be in the playoffs.

Only one game separates Valley Oak League rivals Oakdale and Sonora, and they play today in Oakdale and Thursday in Sonora. Sonora has to sweep to win the title, and needs at least one win to clinch a playoff spot.

The Trans-Valley League title is on the line. First-place Escalon has a two-game lead over Ripon Christian. The teams play today and Wednesday -- and RC won their first meeting.

The folks in Merced will have to wait until Wednesday to get their dose of postseason excitement. Second-place Merced has a one-game lead over crosstown rival Golden Valley in the CCC -- only two teams will be taking a playoff trip -- and they meet first at GV and then Friday at Merced.

There will be plenty at stake on softball diamond in the district this week, as well:

Defending Division V champion Escalon, which features The Bee's reigning Player of the Year in pitcher Caitlin Brooks, has a heck of a fight in the TVL. The Cougars have lost two league games -- two more than many expected -- and cling to a one-game lead over Hughson and two over Modesto Christian.

The Cougars host Modesto Christian today.

There's not a more jumbled race than the VOL, where the big three of Oakdale, East Union and Ceres hope to make some noise in the upcoming playoffs. First, however, they have to determine what their seeds will be.

There is a premium on nailing down the top spot, because the VOL champ will be in the bracket opposite the champions from the two Sacramento-area leagues that play in D-4. It means an easier path to the section final.

The Western Athletic Conference crown could be decided Wednesday or, if second-place Patterson upsets Hilmar, the title could be decided in a winner-take-all game Friday. Both teams are going to the Division 5 playoffs, which looks to be loaded with talent.

Much of the excitement is over in soccer: Large schools have wrapped up their regular season, while small schools close this week.

Enochs, which won its second straight MMC title in only its third year with a varsity program, opens the Division 1 playoffs at home Thursday against Lodi. CCC winner Turlock debuts Friday at home vs. Tokay.

The smaller schools — including the VOL, TVL and WAC — open playoffs next week. The section finals will be played on May 22.

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