The CIF-Southern Section Baseball Tournament opens this week with 21 participating Catholic schools teams in the roles of spoilers rather than favorites.
Only four Catholic teams made the final regular-season CIF-SS divisional top-10 polls issued May 14. Alemany ranked ninth in Division 2; Cantwell-Sacred Heart, eighth in D-3; and Mary Star of the Sea and St. Joseph/Santa Maria, fifth and sixth in D-5.
Several early-season powerhouses fell on harder times as the year progressed, notably Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks, which was nationally ranked by Maxpreps back in February. The Knights ended 19-10, placing fourth in the Mission League and drawing a wild-card berth for its D-1 playoff opener May 16 against Moorpark.
No Catholic school played in the 2017 CIF-SS finals. The last Catholic school finalist was Cantwell-Sacred Heart in 2016 (D-5), and the last Catholic school champions were Santa Margarita (D-1) and Bishop Amat (D-3) in 2014.
A host of league champions made the 2018 tournament, including Bishop Amat (Del Rey), St. Bonaventure (Tri Valley), Cantwell-Sacred Heart (17-5, Camino Real), Bishop Diego (Frontier), St. Bernard (Santa Fe) and St. Monica Academy (Independence).
Wild card games are scheduled May 15 and 16, followed by first round games May 17 and 18, second round games May 22, quarterfinals May 25, semifinals May 29, and finals June 1 and 2. The following is the schedule of wild card and first round play:
Division 1: wild card: Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks vs. Moorpark (winner plays Camarillo). First round: Bishop Amat (Del Rey No. 1) vs. J.W. North (14-14, Inland Valley No. 1); J.Serra (18-13, Trinity No. 2) vs. Etiwanda (20-7, Baseline No. 1); Chaminade (21-8, Mission T2) vs. Gahr (20-8, San Gabriel Valley No. 1); Servite (20-11, Trinity No. 3) vs. South Hills (20-7, Palomares No. 1).
Division 2: wild card: Paraclete vs. Village Christian (winner plays Arnold Beckman). First round: Damien (15-11, Baseline No. 2) vs. Calabasas (Marmonte T1); Alemany (17-11, Mission T2) vs. El Segundo (19-11, Ocean No. 1); St. Bonaventure (20-5, Tri Valley T1) vs. Simi Valley, Coastal Canyon No. 2).
Division 3: first round: La Salle (14-9, Del Rey No. 2) vs. Charter Oak (14-10, Hacienda No. 2); Cantwell-Sacred Heart (17-5, Camino Real No. 1) vs. wild card winner.
Division 4: wild card: St. Paul vs. Covina (winner plays Montebello); Bishop Montgomery vs. Pacifica/Oxnard (winner plays Monrovia).
Division 5: first round: St. Joseph/Santa Maria (17-12, Pac 8 No. 4) vs. Buckley (Liberty No. 1); Mary Star (18-8, Camino Real No. 2) vs. Sunny Hills (10-18, Freeway No. 3).
Division 6: first round: Bishop Diego (16-6, Frontier No. 1) vs. St. Anthony (13-9, Santa Fe No. 2); St. Bernard (12-10, Santa Fe No. 1) vs. Santa Clara (11-10, Frontier No. 2).
Division 7: first round: St. Genevieve (9-13, Santa Fe No. 3) vs. Arroyo (12-8, Mission Valley T1); St. Monica Academy (10-3, Independence No. 1) vs. Dominguez (14-10, San Gabriel Valley at-large).