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CIF Sac-Joaquin Section softball championships: Finals previews, brackets, players to watch for Divisions 1-4

Hilmar, Woodland Christian, and Big Valley Christian have already won CIFSJS titles, but four more will be decided on Saturday.

Three divisions in the Sac-Joaquin Section have crowned 2022 softball champions, but Divisions 1, 2, 3, and 4 are still up for grabs. Heading into championships on Saturday, May 28, SBLive has you covered with finals previews and playoff brackets for each division below.

Note that all remaining games are to be played at Sacramento City College except the Division 3 game, which will take place at Delta College.

DIVISION 1: PLAYOFF BRACKET

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: No. 1 Sheldon (26-5) vs. No. 3 Lincoln Stockton (24-4-1) – 1:30 p.m.

Like we said going into the semifinals, top-seeded Sheldon is the favorite to win Division 1, but the margin is so small that it hardly exists. In fact, Lincoln is one of the few teams to beat the Huskies this season, coming by a score of 2-1 in their second game of the year. So to call either team winning an upset would be a stretch, although Lincoln's March 3 win did come at home whereas Lincoln will be on the road on Saturday.

Sheldon has a scary lineup featuring Reina Zermeno, Dakota Kennedy, Imani Black, and D'Auna Johnson, in addition to two-way star Jaylee Ojo. With primary starter Breanna Romero followed up by Ojo when needed, Sheldon has the pitching to navigate a Trojans squad that has a scary lineup in its own right.

That includes Jordan Hays and two-way stars Danielle Hunter and Peja Goold. Goold pitched a gem when the Trojans beat Sheldon in March – and just about every other time she's been in the circle this season for that matter. She's tossed dominant shutouts in all three playoff games so far, against Stagg, Whitney, and Folsom, and she's now 16-3 with a 0.85 ERA in 131 innings of work.

Goold can almost singlehandedly win Lincoln a game against just about any team in the section, with only Central Catholic having substantial success against her this season. Only once has she allowed more than two earned runs this season, but with the good pitching Lincoln will be facing in turn and Sheldon's offensive dominance as of late, two runs might not be good enough to win the Trojans this game. Either way, if you take out home field advantage, it's a tossup.

DIVISION 2: PLAYOFF BRACKET

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: No. 1 Del Oro (25-4) vs. No. 2 St. Francis (26-3) – 4 p.m.

Although there were plenty of legitimate contenders in the Division 2 bracket, it comes as no surprise that the two top seeds and top-ranked teams in the division, Del Oro and St. Francis (Sacramento), will meet in the finals.

While St. Francis is the lower seed and will be the away team, it comes in with arguably a bit more momentum. Since getting beaten soundly by Sheldon to get knocked out of Delta League title contention, the Troubadours have put together an impressive six-game winning streak. They shut out Vintage and Pleasant Grove, allowed only one run each in wins against Elk Grove and Cordova, and have now shut out River Valley and again Elk Grove. The same stars leading the charge in terms of pitching – UConn committed twins P Hope Jenkins and C Grace Jenkins – are also their top hitters.

St. Francis has been lights-out lately and has a solid chance of bringing home a championship on Saturday. But Del Oro has a slight edge here. Not only did the Golden Eagles defeat St. Francis 4-0 when they met in the regular season, but they even beat Delta League champion and top seed in Division 1, Sheldon, by a score of 7-3. For the record, the head-to-head matchup was a Del Oro home game instead of a neutral one, plus both of those games were well over two months ago. And, in between them, Del Oro fell to Elk Grove which St. Francis is 3-0 against this season. But it's fair to call top-seeded Del Oro a narrow favorite here.