Spring is in full bloom. That means the playoffs are raging like college kids in Cabo San Lucas.
While some varsity teams’ postseason runs have already ended, several squads are alive for Camarillo and Rio Mesa high schools.
At the top of the marquee is Camarillo baseball, which is set to battle Newbury Park at 3:15 p.m. today in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
This game is a rematch from earlier this season. The Scorpions toppled the Panthers 9-1 on March 19. Camarillo won’t take Newbury Park lightly, however.
“Any time you play a team from the Marmonte League—it could be the sixth-place team— you’re going to get a stiff competitor,” Camarillo head coach Richard Jaquez said.
“We’re going on the assumption that they’re going to want to make amends for the (loss).”
The Panthers (18-9) were three outs away from sharing a league crown before a Simi Valley rally in the teams’ league finale ended Newbury Park’s title dreams.
Newbury Park and Simi Valley finished tied for second in the Marmonte.
After a rough 1- 3- 1 start, the Scorpions surged to 21-4-1, including 15-0 in Pacific View League action. They’ve lost one game since March 12.
Camarillo has the Philadelphia Phillies of prep pitching staffs with four outstanding starters: Hunter Virant, Taylor Hansen, Justin Chamberlain and Kenny Overly.
On a staff loaded with aces, junior southpaw Virant is the star.
The UCLA commit hasn’t lost a game this season, going 6-0 with a ridiculous 0.82 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and 1.54 earned-run average. He’s pitched 50 innings with 56 strikeouts and 14 walks.
Although Jaquez wouldn’t confirm it, Virant will likely start today.
Newbury Park counters with senior right-hander Danny Keller, who is 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 54 innings.
“They have a strong pitcher (Keller) and a strong program,” Jaquez said. “Our guys know we have our work cut out.”
The skipper said Camarillo’s “terrible” first week of the season may have been a blessing in disguise.
“ It woke them up a bit,” Jaquez said. “That might have been the best thing to happen to them.”
Hansen (.512 batting average, six homers, 37 RBI), Overly (.471, 24 RBI), Virant (.456, 11 stolen bases) and Chamberlain (.407, 19 RBI) get the job done on offense, too.
Rio Mesa’s baseball season ended with a 16-3 loss to visiting Orange Lutheran in a Tuesday wild card. The Spartans finished 12-14 overall.
Camarillo and Rio Mesa’s softball squads played CIF-SS Division 2 playoff outings Thursday. Scores were not available at press time.
Two years removed from their last first-place finish, the Scorpions captured the league in dominating fashion by going 21-7 overall and 10-0 in the Pacific View during the regular season.
Rio Mesa was 14-11 entering the week.
Multiple track standouts from both schools will compete Saturday at the CIF-SS Divisional Track and Field Championships at Cerritos College.
Rio Mesa’s Raegan Nizdil and the boys’ 4×100 relay team of Marcus Alford, LaDarrin Roach and Cameron Roach will compete in Norwalk. Junior Blake Selig is likely out for the season with an injury, and he must be replaced.
Camarillo’s Rocki Lambdin, Dynn Leaupepe and Heyden Wooff will join the Spartans at the divisionals.
Camarillo’s boys’ tennis team lost in the Division 2 quarterfinals to Arcadia Tuesday, 11-7. The Scorpions previously beat Saugus and El Dorado.
The Rio Mesa boys’ swim team completed an undefeated regular season, going 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Pacific View meets.
The Spartans have won 13 straight league titles, going 78-0 in that span. They’ve never dropped a Pacific View meet in school history.