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VOL titles, postseason berths on the line
Manteca High’s Kevin Peck follows through on a base hit against Oakdale last Wednesday. Peck has established himself as one of the area’s best ace pitchers, and he will likely be matched up with East Union’s Jordan Kron Wednesday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
It’s a pivotal week for area schools in the Valley Oak League.

While the postseason is set to begin in boys tennis, boys golf and swimming, there are baseball, softball and girls soccer games with championship and playoff implications in the coming days.

The big showdown is the two-game series between East Union and Manteca, which starts at the Manteca High varsity diamond Wednesday.

East Union (8-2, 12-5 overall) is currently in sole possession of first place despite losses at Oakdale and at Sonora. Manteca (7-3, 13-7) is coming off a huge 6-1 extra-inning victory on the road against defending champion Oakdale.

Today, Sierra (4-4, 9-8) looks to get back in the race when it plays host to Sonora (6-3, 9-9), which edged out the Timberwolves 7-6 in their previous meeting April 4.

It’s a five-team sprint to the finish with only three Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoff spots available to the VOL.

It’s a similar scenario for both girls soccer and softball.

In softball, East Union (5-4, 8-8-1) and Manteca (7-4, 13-7) are both on the road today for key contests against squads ahead of them in the standings.

Fifth-place East Union can improve its chances with an upset win over Oakdale (8-2, 14-4-1), while Manteca (7-4, 13-7) looks to avenge an embarrassing 13-0 loss to first-year varsity Kimball (7-3, 13-6) in Tracy.

First-place Sierra (9-1, 15-1-1) heads to Weston Ranch, which nearly stunned Manteca last week.

The rest of the week will be devoted to the massive NorCal Classic tournament in Tracy, where most of the VOL schools will be competing Thursday through Saturday.

Oakdale (8-2-1) appears to be in the driver’s seat in soccer with three games remaining, but second-place Sierra (6-1-4) has the softest schedule as it closes the regular season against the three bottom teams.

All eyes will be on the East Union-Kimball match Wednesday. They are each tied for third place with mirroring 6-2-3 records (21 points), and Manteca (6-4-1, 19 points) is hoping for a tie.

Manteca needs to win out to sneak into the playoffs, but that would have to include victories over EU and Oakdale, two teams the Buffaloes have already lost to. They would also need for Kimball to lose or tie against either Weston Ranch or Lathrop.

The VOL Singles Tennis Tournament begins today in Sonora, as Sierra’s Kevin Rausa and East Union’s Ricky Peloso look to qualify for the SJS Division-II Individual Tournament. The singles championship will be decided during the VOL Doubles Tournament Thursday.

The league swim meet will take place Saturday at East Union, and golfers have a week to prepare for the conference tournament set for May 3 at the Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort.