By Ray Hamill — It’s safe to say the Humboldt-Del Norte League is being well represented at the business end of the North Coast Section playoffs in baseball and softball.
This weekend, three local teams will be playing for a championship in their respective divisions, and three more will looking to join them by winning their semifinals.
That’s an impressive showing for both the Big 5 and Little 4, with one-third of the league’s teams getting to at least the final four within their division.
South Fork and McKinleyville, in particular, are enjoying historic seasons, with both schools in contention for an NCS baseball and softball double.
The Cubs clinched the historic double last year, following in the footsteps of their three conference rivals, each of whom has done it at least once (St. Bernard’s in 2009 and ’11, Ferndale in 2003, and Hoopa all the way back in 1979).
On Saturday, they’ll be hoping to make it back-to-back doubles.
Both South Fork teams are seeded No. 1 in Division VI, and both will host their championship matchups, with the boys taking on Credo at 1 p.m. and the girls playing Laytonville at 2.
A season for the ages
The Panthers are also enjoying a season for the ages in both sports and hoping to cap it with an historic first NCS baseball and softball double for a Big 5 school.
The two McKinleyville teams are each the highest remaining seed in the Division-IV brackets, and each will host a semifinal on Friday evening.
The baseball team, which is looking for a first NCS title since 2006 and its fourth all-time, is seeded No. 1 and will host No. 5 Fort Bragg at McKinleyville High at 5 p.m.
Right next door on the softball field, the No. 2 Panthers will host No. 3 Cardinal Newman with a place in next week’s decider on the line.
The Mack girls are looking for a first NCS crown in softball since 1988 and only the third ever for the Big 5, with Del Norte also winning in 2008.
Plenty of NCS history
Hoopa also has plenty of NCS history, with the girls winning the most recent of their five titles when they claimed back-to-back crowns in 2006 and 2007.
The No. 2 Warriors will play at No. 1 St. Vincent de Paul in Petaluma on Saturday at noon, and a win will give the program its sixth NCS crown, tying Ferndale for most ever by an H-DNL softball team.
All six of the local teams still involved in the playoffs have each won at least one NCS championship, with Arcata baseball taking the title three years ago, the program’s only ever title.
The Tigers are seeded No. 2 in Division IV and will host No. 3 St. Patrick-St. Vincent at the Arcata Ball Park on Friday at 5 p.m.
A win for both Arcata and McKinleyville will see the two face off for the NCS title in an all-Big 5 decider next Wednesday.
The H-DNL has seen plenty of success in NCS baseball in recent times, with a local team winning a title in each of the past five years and 12 championships combined in the past 13 seasons.
In softball, South Fork’s NCS title last spring is the H-DNL’s lone success over the past five years, although the league won 10 titles in an 11-year span from 2003 to 2013.