The softball teams from Chino and Los Osos will square off today at 3:15 p.m. in a first round CIF division 1 game. It’s unusual they would meet in a first round game. Both are used to finishing first in their league which justifies a better playoff draw.
But both have had their issues this season. Chino (17-7-1) has made three straight trips to a CIF title game, winning titles in 2012 and 2013 and losing an extra-inning heart-breaker to nationally ranked Mission Viejo 1-0 in the title game a year ago.
The Cowboys settled for a share of the Hacienda League title this season and had uncharacteristic league losses to West Covina and Charter Oak.
Coach Mike Smith said before the season started the new league into which he moved was weaker than the one he moved out of in the Mt. Baldy. Maybe now that he has finished a year in that league he has changed his mind. But he’s pretty tuned in to the travel ball happenings and personnel of each team so that probably isn’t the case.
The only player his team graduate was stud pitcher Miranda Viramontes. Senior Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings (11-5, 1.40) has filled in admirably and her numbers are stellar so there must be an issue elsewhere.
Complacency? Maybe. Smith has had to get on his teams at time this season about that very issue and admits he isn’t quite sure what to expect with his team as the playoffs start.
Los Osos (18-12) won Baseline a year ago and dropped just one game. This year coach Mike Randall’s team settled for third. They were lucky to finish third, needing an upset of Chino Hills the final game of the regular season to finish there.
Sure, the addition of Chino Hills made repeating difficult to begin with, but the Grizzlies have lost to the likes of St. Lucy’s and Upland, both teams they have not struggled with before now.
Like Chino, Los Osos graduated a top line pitcher. But unlike the Cowboys, the Grizzlies also graduated some key position players, including infielder McKenzie Long, the league player of the year who has gone on to a stellar freshman season at Michigan State.
So one team is going to be ushered out of the playoffs in the first round, something to which it is not accustomed.
The reward for the winner is an an appointment with top seed Corona Santiago, barring a jarring upset in that first round game.
It’s time to see what both these teams are made of.