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NorCal High School Baseball Preseason Top 20

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Valley Christian-San Jose And Elk Grove Begin The Year As 1A and 1B With Plenty Of Talented Clubs In Hot Pursuit •

1. Valley Christian-San Jose (22-11-1 in 2017)

The defending Central Coast Section Open Division champions were a relatively easy choice to open the year as NorCal’s No. 1. The Warriors have six of their top seven leaders in hits returning from a year ago, including junior Nick Marinconz, who led the team with 48 last season for a cool .414 average.

Marinconz is also part of a stout defensive lineup that includes senior shortstop Dawson Brigman (Santa Clara signee), junior outfielder Cole Brigman and senior catcher Ryan Belluomini.

But, pitching is the ultimate factor behind this ranking as Valley Christian boasts a staff led by Arkansas-bound Patrick Wicklander (8-1, 1.92 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 80.1 innings in 2017).

The Warriors also return four more arms with experience from last season, and will add highly touted freshman Jonathan Cymrot to the mix.

2. Elk Grove (23-10)

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Elk Grove senior infielder, Tanner Carlson.

Even though we gave the nod to Valley Christian, we wouldn’t fault anyone who opened the year with the Thundering Herd as NorCal’s team to beat.

Our No. 2 ranking is exactly where Elk Grove finished up last year after winning yet another Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I title. Nearly the entire starting lineup returns from that squad.  That includes standouts Tanner Carlson (Long Beach State) and Jake Jordan (UC Davis). Jordan and Brian Freitas will lead the pitching staff after combining to go 11-0 in 23 appearances last season.

3. De La Salle-Concord (21-8)

The defending North Coast Section Div. I champion has a few more questions than usual for this time of year, but no less talent.

Trace Tammaro (Portland) and Austin Elder (CSU Northridge) return after combining for 50 RBI in 2017. Pitching is where the Spartans will need to make their strides, as Nick Cirelli (5-1, 2.38 ERA) is the only returning arm who logged more than five innings last season.

4. St. Mary’s-Stockton (20-11)

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St. Mary’s-Stockton senior, Christian Almanza.

Utah-bound 1B Christian Almanza (.467 with 16 doubles, 3 HR, 27 RBI) leads a Rams team which didn’t include a single senior on its roster a year ago.

The program will be breaking in new head coach Randy Ortega, an assistant on the staff the past few seasons. Senior IF/C Tyler Lozano is also a name to note.

5. Foothill-Pleasanton (19-5-1)

The Falcons return their six top run producers from 2017, including Stanford-bound all-state multi-purpose selection Brett Hansen.

Hansen hit .321 with 26 batted in and also went 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA on the bump.

6. Davis (23-9)

Arizona-bound two-way star Ryan Holgate (.371, 31 RBI, 7-2, 2.07 ERA) will lead a daunting batting order and an experienced pitching staff.

7. Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F. (22-8)

The CCS Div. II top seed a year ago before being upset in the quarterfinals, the Irish return three of their top four hitters.

As well, as a quartet of pitchers who combined for 19 wins in 2017.

8. Monte Vista-Danville (21-9)

Senior Santa Barbara-commit Andrew Howard (.330, 30 RBI) returns to anchor the offense and support junior ace Josh White (6-1, 1.75 ERA, 75 strikeouts in 60 IP)

9. Bellarmine-San Jose (21-9)

Pitching is ahead of the hitting for the Bells to start the season thanks to Cal-bound senior Joseph Ammirato (8-2, 1.59 ERA). Fellow starter Wes Harper (5-3, 1.68, 21 RBI on offense) also returns.

10. Benicia (25-5-1)

Defending SJS Div. II champs will feature senior ace Elijah Birdsong (8-0, 0.75 ERA) on the hill and junior SS Joey Daini (.398, 25 RBI) anchoring the lineup.

THE NEXT 10

11. Amador Valley-Pleasanton (19-7)
12. Serra-San Mateo (17-14)
13. Palo Alto (25-7)
14. Vacaville (24-4)
15. Jesuit-Carmichael (13-15)
16. Miramonte-Orinda (27-1)
17. College Park-Pleasant Hill (17-10)
18. San Ramon Valley-Danville (20-11)
19. Vanden-Fairfield (20-9)
20. McClatchy-Sacramento (22-10)

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