Baseball, Softball: Five teams enter their 2019 playoff brackets
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
TULARE COUNTY – The 2019 regular baseball and softball seasons concluded last week. Now begins the journey to Fresno State or Recreation Park, home of the Rawhide, in Visalia, and the hopes of lifting one of the last team section championship of the season.
This year there will be five teams from the area looking to make it to their respected championship locations. Here is a break down of all five:
The Exeter Monarchs have been on a quest for a return trip to Recreation Park, and the Division IV finals ever since they lost to the Fowler Redcats 4-0 in the championship last season. Exeter is once again in a prime position to return after earning the second seed in the bracket. A four-game winning streak which was snapped on their last game of the season by the Dinuba Emperors 4-2 helped boost their seeding.
Exeter’s last win of the streak, an 8-1 result over the Kingsburg Vikings, was Kevin Kirkman’s 100th win as head coach.
By getting the second seed, Exeter faces the 15th-seeded Chavez Titans (12-12, 7-5) tonight.
Chavez ended the season winning three of their last five games. They finished in a tie for third with the Arvin Bears in the South Sequoia League.
A surprise this season has been the emergence of the Strathmore Spartans (15-9-1, 8-4). Their third-place finish in the East Sequoia League was their best in years. For that they were rewarded with the third seed in the Division IV bracket. They will have an opening round bye, and will await the victor of the Kennedy Thunderbirds (10-10, 5-7) and Summit Golden Bears (11-12, 6-2).
The defending champions of Division VI, Lindsay Cardinals (9-15, 6-6), have a long road back to the finals. After dropping two of their last three, they qualified for the playoffs on the number. They got the 12th seed, but has to travel to face the fifth seeded Orange Cove Titans (12-13, 5-7).
Orange Cover finished fifth in the West Sequoia League. The champion of their league was the Minarets Mustangs, who went undefeated, and received the top spot in Division V this season.
Out of the two defending champions returning to the post season, the Exeter Monarchs have the best chance of making it back to the championship. Exeter might have only won one game in their last four, but all opponents were from higher divisions which did not ruin their chances of receiving the second seed in Division IV.
Exeter is one seed higher than they were last year, so it will give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. It gave them an opening round bye as well. Exeter will face the winner of the Washington Union Panthers, and Firebaugh Eagles matchup on Thursday. Time is to be announced.
Washington Union (15-10, 8-2) shared the North Sequoia League title with the Liberty Hawks. They enter the post season riding a seven game winning streak.
Firebaugh (13-101, 6-4) finished in third place in the West Sierra League. They split their final four games to receive the position.
The Farmersville Aztecs (15-13, 7-5) snuck into an eighth seed in the Division VI bracket by winning their final two games defeating the Lindsay Cardinals, 5-3, and the Woodlake Tigers, 6-5. The eighth spot was the final, guaranteed, home game seed in the bracket.
Last night, Farmersville played the Boron Bobcats (8-12, 3-10) in the opening rounds. Results were reached after press time.
Boron came into the game having only won two of their last eight games. Those results resulted in a sixth-place finish in the High Desert League.