As the calendar approaches late May, the races in various baseball and softball leagues around the county are starting to heat up — none moreso than the SWYL baseball chase, which reached a new level of craziness Monday afternoon.
Liberty had a chance to take a one-game lead on the field with eight games remaining, but the Patriots couldn't hold a 10-6 seventh-inning lead on Bakersfield in a makeup for a game re-scheduled because Liberty was at a Las Vegas tournament earlier in the season.
The Drillers' five-run seventh-inning was a huge boost to a team that has lost a lot of close games lately, but in the bigger picture, it did this to the SWYL standings:
I can't say I remember anything quite like this in high school baseball, where one or two teams have usually separated themselves from the field by this point (examples from this year are Garces in the SEYL, Taft and Bakersfield Christian in the SSL and Golden Valley and Ridgeview in the SYL).
Instead, the first half of the league season in the SWYL has basically decided nothing. And the thing is, this doesn't really seem random: Every team brings some strengths and weaknesses to the table. Frontier won the Fresno Easter Classic, has an ace in Allan Winans and a great middle of the order anchored by third baseman Eddie Torres. Centennial has perhaps the league's best all-around player in outfielder Andrew Daughtery and an explosive offense but is affected by injuries to its pitching staff. Liberty is just getting ace pitchers Christian Sinnott and Kaidan Meadows back from injuries, but the Patriots haven't quite hit top form. Bakersfield has perhaps the league's best pitcher in USC commit Mason Perryman. Stockdale has do-everything Max Carter and a solid nucleus. Even Independence's young talent isn't overmatched as it has been in years past.
There are eight games to play for each team, two each week against the same opponent. Buckle in.