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Small shift: Hilmar upsets season-long No. 1, but who is the real winner?

James Burns
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Small Schools

Editor’s note: Comprised of teams from the Central California Athletic Alliance, Mother Lode League, Southern League and Trans-Valley League. Last week’s ranking and current records in parenthesis.

1. (2) Calaveras (18-3): The runaway champions in the Mother Lode League have won five straight games since an extra-inning loss to Ripon at the NorCal Classic. Calaveras is the first non-Trans-Valley League to hold the top spot in the small-school poll.

2. (1) Ripon (20-2): The Indians edged large-school foe Gregori, a signature win with the postseason on the horizon, but did the TVL champions surrender all momentum with a 7-1 loss to Hilmar in its regular season finale?

3. (3) Escalon (14-8-1): The Cougars, a two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section champion, sharpened their teeth with convincing wins over Livingston and Modesto Christian by a combined score of 27-3.

4. (4) Ripon Christian (19-3): The Knights clinched the school’s first softball league championship since 1993 with a 10-0 victory over Delhi. Star two-way player Madison de Graaf allowed just one hit and and drove in two in the decisive victory for Ripon Christian, which can clinch an outright title Tuesday at Orestimba.

5. (6) Hilmar (16-8): April certainly wasn’t kind to the Yellowjackets, who finished below .500 for the month. Hilmar lost five games in April, but got off to a great start in May with a 7-1 victory over Ripon. Junior Cheyann Hughes served as the catalyst, roping a double and a triple, and driving in two runs.

6. (4) Waterford (16-6): After flying high for two months, the Wildcats have seemingly gassed out with the finish line in sight following back-to-back losses to Mariposa and Le Grand, forfeiting its place atop the Southern League standings.

7. (7) Le Grand (14-13): The Bulldogs have won two straight, including a 3-2 decision over the sliding Wildcats, a victory that atoned for an extra-inning loss in Waterford earlier in the season.

8. (8) Mariposa (13-10): After a humbling experience at the NorCal Classic, in which the Grizzlies, a perennial small-school power out of the Southern League, suffered three straight losses, Mariposa has won two straight.

9. (9) Stone Ridge Christian (17-7): The Central California Athletic Alliance champions await their Sac-Joaquin Section playoff fate. Is this the season the Knights get over the hump in the Division VII tournament? Stone Ridge Christian has been to back-to-back section finals, losing each time to Ripon Christian.

10. (10) Hughson (12-11): The Huskies are looking to close a topsy-turvy season with a strong finishing kick following consecutive wins over Riverbank and Livingston, but a big TVL clash with Hilmar awaits on Wednesday.

Follow James Burns on Twitter @jburns1980, or email him at frontrowpreps@gmail.com.