Playoffs begin for Johansen

SACRAMENTO — Johansen High rolled through the Modesto Metro Conference without a challenge, but will the Vikings pay the price for such an easy path to a title?

Johansen is the No. 3 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 softball playoffs and opens today at 10 a.m. against Merced (12-11). Los Banos (15-12) plays Napa (19-7) at 11 and Enochs (18-8) plays Lodi (21-5) at noon. First-round losers go home and the winners will stay for a second game.

All the games are at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

Johansen coach Debbie Guenther has said she's not worried about her Vikings being prepared for the high-caliber pitching they'll be facing.

"Our practices are just as intense, sometimes more, than some of our games," said Guenther, who sees sophomore pitcher Lizzer Perez as a cornerstone for the future.

Perez (17-3, 0.49 ERA, 166 Ks in 128 innings) is backed by a defense led by Chelsea Guenther behind the plate and San Jose State-bound Sadie Coenen at second. Johansen has also won 10 games in a row.

The bracket is favorable to the Vikings, as they get a .500 team from a second-tier conference in the first round and would likely play a team from another second-tier conference in the second round.

Defending champ Pleasant Grove (21-5) and Elk Grove (19-3) are the favorites in D1, and Elk Grove won both their regular-season meetings.

Enochs earned its first-ever berth the final day of the regular season by beating Davis.The Eagles' reward is a showdown vs. one of the section's top pitchers, Tori Shepard.

She's 18-4 with a 0.27 ERA, and has 229 strikeouts in 128 innings — one of the highest ratios in the D1 tournament.

While Los Banos also got a nice draw in its opener, the Tigers would likely meet Elk Grove in the second round.