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COMMENTARY

Making a run for the playoffs

By: Jim Linsdau of The Placer Herald/News Messenger
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Many of the teams for Lincoln, Rocklin and Whitney high schools entered their conference races this week in pursuit of a league title or, at least, a berth in the postseason playoffs.

Perhaps the most intriguing story is that of the Lincoln High boys volleyball team. This is a group who sits atop the Sierra Valley Conference in only their second year of existence. To top that off, they have a new coaching staff this year headed up by former football coach Ken Lowe.

In spite of all the reasons the Fighting Zebras should not be in contention for the Division II crown, they are 8-3 heading into SVL play. Their only losses were to reigning Division I champion Del Oro, Division I Davis and Antelope.

Whitney also has a strong boys volleyball program, but its top contender this season is its perennial powerhouse baseball program. The Wildcats (2-0) were tied for No. 1 in the Capital Valley Conference with Roseville and Antelope coming out of spring break. Overall, the ‘Cats are 9-5 and lead in outscoring their opponents by more than three runs – best in the CVC.

Whitney head coach Rob Dorchak, now in his fifth season, had a .683 winning percentage and has not had a losing season.

In the early going, Rocklin High’s strongest contender to make the postseason is its softball team. The Thunder are also 9-5 overall, but two games behind Woodcreek and a half game behind Del Oro.

The club is hitting at a .363 clip, but they still have not gotten pitcher Carli Cutler back from an early-season injury.

Also at the top of the list is the Lincoln High softball team.

The Zebras have a 1-0 record in the Pioneer Valley League, beating No. 2 Bear River 2-0 in eight innings. Lincoln is 11-3 overall.

Although the heart of head coach Donna Tofft’s lineup is made up of underclassmen, she does have senior leadership this season. Marissa Armstrong leads the field of seniors with a .375 batting average and the catcher/first baseman has yet to make an error.

Whitney boys volleyball sits at No. 3 in league, but the Wildcats went through some big changes this season; first, was entering the CVC and second, the loss of some talented seniors that took the team to Regionals twice.

But a Kirsten Gideon-Parker coached team cannot be underestimated. The ‘Cats do have some seasoned veterans and a number of players that rank in the league’s top five among individual leaders.

Lincoln’s baseball team is No. 2 in the PVL. Under new head coach Jon O’Connor the team has high expectations, but the league has some strong baseball teams.

Placer is riding a 7-0 record in league and is 12-4 overall. If O’Connor can convince his club to play as they are capable, they could overtake the Hillmen with two more games remaining against the league leaders.

Lincoln’s golf team is also chasing Placer, but the Zebras are young and golf is a game of patience.

Also in the running are Whitney’s track and field team and Rocklin’s tennis team.