A stunning loss in its regular-season finale had no effect on Ripon’s playoff position.
The Trans-Valley League outright champion Indians (20-2) are seeded No. 1 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs and one of five teams in the bracket that get a first-round bye next Monday. The first two rounds will take place at home sites of higher-seeded teams, and the rest is set to take place at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton.
Other playoff qualifiers from the area begin Monday, as Division VI No. 2 seed Ripon Christian (20-3) and Division III No. 6 East Union (15-9) play at home while Division III No. 14 Sierra (6-7) goes on the road.
Ripon was rolling toward the finish line in the regular season but dropped two of its final four contests. After the Indians lost to state-ranked Oakdale, 4-0, they ended league with a head-scratching 7-1 loss to Hilmar — a team they previously routed, 11-0.
Ripon awaits the winner of Los Banos (14-13)-Sonora (8-7) in the Nos. 8-9 showdown. Getting the No. 2 seed is Calaveras (19-3), which was edged out by Ripon 10-9 in eight innings during the NorCal Classic. Calaveras reached the Division IV title game the past two years, losing both to Sierra.
Speaking of Sierra, the Timberwolves won their final two Valley Oak League games to make the playoffs. They’re playing up a division after claiming five out of the last eight Division IV crowns. They head to Merced on Monday to meet No. 3 Golden Valley (24-3), which shares the Central California Conference title with No. 7 Patterson (15-8).
East Union, meanwhile, plays host to Western Athletic Conference runner-up Beyer (13-7), the No. 11 seed. A Lancers win coupled with a major upset victory for Sierra would pit the two intracity foes against each other in the second round.
VOL champion Oakdale (23-0-1) seeded No. 1 in the loaded Division III bracket, with No. 2 Del Campo (20-3) and No. 4 Vanden (16-6) rounding out the top four.
Two-time reigning Division VII champion Ripon Christian is vying for the Division VI banner following its run to the Southern Athletic League title. It’s just the Knights’ second league title in school history, the first coming in 1993. They open with No. 7 Rio Vista (9-9), a team they’ve 10-runned twice this season.
No. 1-seeded Woodland Christian (19-3-1) is the defending champion. The Division VI final is scheduled for May 18, while Divisions III and IV take place on May 22.