OVERALL TOP 10
1. Buchanan 28-5 (2010)
2. Clovis West 29-4
3. Centennial 25-6
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5. Clovis North 28-5
6. Stockdale 20-8
7. Frontier 22-13
8. Central 17-13
9. Liberty-Bakersfield 20-11
10. Fresno 21-8
D-I: 1. Buchanan; 2. Clovis West; Centennial
D-II: 1. Clovis North; 2. Frontier; 3. Hanford (22-7)
D-III: 1. Fresno; 2. Hanford W. (21-12); 3. Independence (17-11)
D-IV: 1. Kerman (23-8); 2. Fowler (24-4); 3. Chowchilla (18-8)
D-V: 1. Corcoran (19-7); 2. Fresno Chr. (21-6); 3. Lindsay (18-10)
D-VI: 1. Firebaugh (16-9); 2. McFar. (15-9); 3. Strath. (9-15)
Lower scores can be expected after the National Federation of State High School Associations mandated the use of lower-performance, nonwooden bats this season. The move was pushed particularly hard in California after several accidents in which pitchers were struck in the head with batted balls. The new bats are made of a composite material that produces a slower exit speed off contact. "The days of grip-it-and-rip-it are over," Buchanan coach Tom Donald said.
Section champions Hanford (D-III), Washington (D-IV) and Fowler (D-V) have been elevated a division as part of the section's administrative move to achieve competitive equity.
A sensitive Fresno Unified issue has had 2010 North Yosemite League Player of the Year Anthony Hawkins transfer from McLane to Fresno. He gained immediate eligibility with a successful appeal at the state level after initially being denied by section commissioner Jim Crichlow. As a sophomore at McLane, Hawkins hit .378 with nine home runs, 30 runs, 23 RBIs and 10 steals.
Centennial, a 2007 D-I champion that pushed Buchanan into extra innings before losing 7-6 in last year's semifinals, brings a loaded team to Bullard for a 1 p.m. Wednesday opener. The Golden Hawks, however, will arrive at Mike Noakes Field minus Grant Watson, a senior who hit .476 and won seven games last season. He's a 20-points-per-game scorer for the school's basketball team, which will play at Clovis in a playoff game Wednesday night.