By Ray Hamill — It was mixed news this week for the McKinleyville teams in the North Coast Section MaxPreps rankings, with the baseball team taking over top spot in Division IV and the softball team dropping one spot to No. 2.
The Panthers are in the thick of an exciting battle for the Big 5 championship in baseball, with NCS positioning on the line as well.
McKinleyville’s arch rivals, Arcata, was No. 1 in the division last week, before being leapfrogged by the Panthers this week.
McKinleyville, which took two of three games from Arcata recently, is 14-1 on the season, with the Tigers at 17-2.
The two teams’ only losses this spring have come against each other, and they are tied in ranking points, with Mack earning the top spot courtesy of a harder schedule.
Interestingly, the Tigers are ranked No. 11 overall in the NCS, one spot ahead of McKinleyville.
Also in the mix for the Big 5 crown, the Eureka Loggers are building momentum in the race for the NCS postseason seedings as well.
The Loggers, who play a doubleheader at Del Norte on Friday, swept three games from Fortuna last week to stretch their winning streak to five straight.
Just as importantly, the Eureka boys continue to climb the NCS Division-III rankings, moving up three spots to No. 5.
Eureka is No. 23 overall in the NCS, still well behind both Arcata and McKinleyville, although the rankings will count for little when the Loggers play both of their Big 5 rivals over the next two weeks.
The St. Bernard’s boys (13-5) also are on the move, climbing to No. 2 in Division V, up one spot from a week ago and trailing only Berean Christian.
South Fork (10-3) is also climbing, rising to No. 1 in Division VI and putting the Cubs in prime position to repeat as NCS champions.
In softball, meanwhile, McKinleyville lost for the first time this season last weekend, dropping two of four games at the Shasta tournament.
As a result, the Panthers (16-2) slipped behind Cloverdale in the Division-IV rankings.
The Mack girls are No. 18 overall in the NCS.
In Division III, the Eureka girls (11-2) actually have dropped one spot from a week ago, falling to No. 6 despite having won eight straight games.
The Loggers are on collision course with McKinleyville for the league title, with the two teams scheduled to play a three-game series in two weeks, which will likely decide the Big 5 title.
Eureka is now No. 35 overall in the NCS, still 17 spots back of McKinleyville.
Arcata (11-6) dropped two spots this week to No. 6 in Division IV.
In Division V, St. Bernard’s (9-6) also drops one spot to No. 4, with Hoopa Valley two spots back.