Jurupa Hills coach Scott Cartzdafner said he was “more than positive” his team would see Citrus Valley in the CIF-SS Division 5 championship game in three weeks.
He said that after his team lost to defending Division 6 champ Citrus Valley 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh to give Citrus Valley the Mountain Valley League title on Thursday. That was two days after Jurupa Hills knocked off Citrus Valley 3-2 on a walk-off two-run homer.
Citrus Valley is ranked No. 1 in the division and a favorite to get back to the CIF-SS title game. But what about Jurupa Hills? The Spartans were ranked fifth entering this week.
A year ago, Citrus Valley won its final 21 games en route to the CIF title. In the final 20 of those games, 2 of the 3 closest games were 3-2 and 4-1 wins over Jurupa Hills. The 4-1 win came in the CIF semifinals. Jurupa Hills might’ve been the second-best team in the division last year, but because the Spartans tied for 2nd in league and went into the playoffs as the No. 3 team, they could end up on the same side of the bracket as Citrus Valley, hence meet in the semifinals.
This year, since Jurupa HIlls is the No. 2 team in the league, the Spartans will be on the opposite half of the bracket from No. 1 Citrus Valley. So they could meet in the finals. But will they?
As far as the question as to whether Jurupa Hills is good enough, they are. They went 1-2 against the No. 1 team in the division, with each game decided by one run. Against a pair of top-flight pitchers in Hailey Jaquess and Taylor Troost on Thursday, they had only three hits, but also drew four walks and played errorless defense.
CIF-SS only seeds the top 4 teams officially, but Jurupa Hills could get bumped up to the No. 3 seed, or could be in the spot to face the No .3 seed in the quarterfinals (essentially a No. 6 seed).
According to maxpreps.com’s ratings, Citrus Valley is ranked No. 132 overall in the state. Downey Calvary Chapel, ranked No. 2 in Division 5, is No. 179 in the state, No. 3 Nipomo is No. 239 in the state, No. 4 Lompoc Cabrillo is No. 406 in the state, while No. 5 Jurupa Hills is No. 227 in the state.
But, Cabrillo beat Nipomo this week and will go as the Los Padres League’s No. 1 representative. Cabrillo will have to be seeded higher than Nipomo. Although I don’t know all the ins and outs, I could easily see Jurupa Hills (after beating Citrus Valley once earlier this week) moving up to No. 3 and Nipomo dropping to No. 6, putting them on the opposite half of the bracket from Cabrillo.
The bottom line is, that Calvary Chapel, Nipomo and Cabrillo are from areas far away from Jurupa Hills and there’s not much in the way of common opponents for Jurupa Hills and those three. But Jurupa Hills returns everyone from the CIF-SS semifinal team last year, and another deep run is very much a possibility. Calvary Chapel is from the same league as Lancaster Paraclete, the team Jurupa Hills beat in the CIF-SS quarterfinals last year. I could see it happening.