By Ray Hamill — Two H-DN softball teams have been moved up a division by the North Coast Section this year, although that doesn’t appear to be affecting their rankings much.
After winning back-to-back NCS championships in 2019 and 2022 — there were no playoffs in 2020 and 2021 — the Hoopa Warriors and McKinleyville Panthers find themselves in more competitive brackets this spring.
And while it took both teams a little while to get going this year because of all the rain, both teams have settled in and MaxPreps is taking notice.
The Hoopa girls, meanwhile, are 11-2 and ranked No. 3 in Division 4, trailing only No. 1 Cardinal Newman and No. 2 Del Norte.
Considering the student enrollment of both McKinleyville and Hoopa, it’s quite impressive that both are ranked as high as they are among far larger schools within their new divisions.
Every other school in the top 10 in Division 3 has at least twice as many students as McKinleyville, while Hoopa is by far the smallest school in the top 10 in Division 4, with only three private schools even close.
It’s difficult to see how the Loggers are not ranked higher than their Big 5 rivals.
Unbeaten Pinole Valley (17-0) is No. 1, followed by Maria Carrillo at No. 2.
The Hoopa girls, meanwhile, have won 11 straight games to kickstart their season after dropping their first two games, and they are cruising toward another league championship.
They also have a healthy 2-2 record against Division-4 schools, having beaten Arcata twice and lost to Fortuna twice, and they have upcoming Division-4 matchups against No. 6 Fort Bragg and No. 13 Kelseyville.
Other local teams featuring high in the MaxPreps rankings include Fortuna at No. 4 in Division 4 and St. Bernard’s at No. 8 in Division 5.