It has been a crazy couple of weeks for high school sports in the Central Coast but especially in the North County as Templeton, Atascadero and Paso Robles went a perfect six-for-six in sending their baseball and softball teams to the Central Section playoffs. What is most impressive about our little area is not that we sent that many teams, in the Central Section every team can technically go to the playoffs if they choose, it is that we were seeded with such disrespect almost across the entire board and made everyone pay for it.
Our Mountain League co-champions somehow didn’t earn enough respect to get seeded higher than seventh, where the Hounds were seeded, yet the Lady Bearcats knocked off the Number 8 seed and the beloved Number 1 seeded Buchanan Bears, one of the Central Sections crown jewels, while the Hounds took down the Number 2 seed in Clovis North and very nearly took down the three seed on Tuesday.
The only softball team of ours that was shown respect was the Templeton Eagles who entered the Division 3 playoffs as a Number 2 seed but have proven throughout the playoffs that they probably deserved the top seed after beating their first three opponents in the playoffs a combined 25-3. Even with the Bearcats and the Hounds being on the road nearly the entire way they both advanced to the semifinals in Division 1 this week, meaning they are two of the top four teams in the entire section, and almost met each other with a championship on the line. Atascadero was knotted at 0-0 with Stockdale for the entire game only to give up one run in the bottom of the seventh and the Bearcats just could not find their offense against Bullard.
While watching the softball teams dominate was fun, the most joy came from watching, not only the North County baseball teams but the entire Central Coast, launch nuclear missiles at the Central Section Division 3 bracket. First, the Templeton Eagles, seeded 16th, took out top-seeded 22-5 Selma 4-1 in the opening round then the Hounds, seeded 12th, beat the five seed in Reedley. On the other side of the bracket the Number 2 seed Immanuel was beaten 3-0 by Santa Maria, seeded 15, and Nipomo, seeded 10, took out the seven seed in Kerman. Fast forward to this week’s semifinals in Division 3 which featured Atascadero against Templeton (12 versus 16) and Nipomo against Highland (10 versus 3).
Now we are at the final and the North County has two of the final teams standing in the Templeton Eagles softball team and Atascadero Greyhounds baseball team. Two wins on Saturday would be huge for our area as it would be our second and third CIF team title in our first year in the section to go with the Bearcats cross country win in the fall and fourth overall if you count Xavier Gonzales’ individual win in cross country, which I do. Make sure to check in with the Atascadero News over the weekend for scores and highlights to the big game.