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Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 softball semifinals preview: Top-seeded Sheldon the slight title favorite

Sheldon is the No. 1 seed for a reason, but all four remaining teams are fully in the running for a championship.


With the Sac-Joaquin Section softball playoffs in full swing, here's a preview of the Division 1 semifinals.


After sweeping the Delta League, finishing the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, and then crushing Johnson and Gregori, No. 1 Sheldon (25-5) is the team to beat in the Division 1 playoffs. With a superstar cast including elite hitters Reina Zermeno, Jaylee Ojo, D'Auna Johnson, Sakora Harvell, Arizona-bound Dakota Kennedy, Imani Black, and Delaware-committed ace Breanna Romero, the Huskies are one of the most talented teams in the state. They played one of the tougher schedules in NorCal and still came out with an astonishing team OPS of nearly 1.100.


As scary as the Huskies are, they aren't an overwhelming frontrunner. Four of their five losses came against other Sac-Joaquin Section teams, one of which – Lincoln (Stockton) – is on the other side of this very bracket. They'll be a fairly heavy favorite on Tuesday against No. 4 Rocklin (18-11), which is battle-tested from playing in the Sierra Foothill League and riding the great pitching of Princeton commit Brielle Wright. She combined with Marissa Robertson for a no-hitter in the Thunder's 12-0 rout of McClatchy, and the team's top hitters, Kaylah Adams, Sydney Barker, and Bella Garcia helped lead the way at the plate. Rocklin followed it up with a 3-1 win against Tracy. While they'll be the underdog against Sheldon, don't expect anyone to take them lightly – it would be a big mistake.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 Folsom (20-5-1) and No. 3 Lincoln Stockton (23-4-1) are on relatively even footing. Both teams are just outside of our statewide top 25 this week, with Lincoln at No. 26 and Folsom also inside the top 30.

Like the other semifinalists, Folsom and Lincoln are both anchored by elite pitchers. Two-way force Peja Goold, who's committed to Tennessee - Chattanooga, is 15-3 with a 0.90 ERA with 252 strikeouts in 124 innings for the Trojans, and she's also hitting .333 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. Danielle Hunter is another two-way star for Lincoln, and power-hitting middle infielder Jordan Hays is their other top threat at the plate. 

On the flip side Emma Falen, a UC Riverside commit, has the best ERA in the section at 0.41 for the Bulldogs through 116 innings of work. She tossed shutouts in their playoff wins against Chavez and Pleasant Grove. Infielder Hailey Scott is another key name to know as Folsom's top hitter. Like Folsom, the Trojans are also coming off back-to-back shutout wins, against Stagg and Whitney (Rocklin).

With Lincoln and Folsom both playing A-level softball right now and dominating in their first two playoff games, this one is a tossup. And whether they're the higher or lower seed in the finals, whoever wins this game will have to feel solidly about their chances going into the title game.