Now that we've closed the curtain on winter sports with the last of the All-Mercury News teams having appeared in last week's Varsity Extra prep page, we turn our attention to spring sports.

In the deliberations for our first Mercury News rankings, it was pretty clear that undefeated Archbishop Mitty would be the No. 1-ranked softball team.

But baseball was another story.

There is a three-way tie for first place in the West Catholic Athletic League between St. Francis, Mitty and Valley Christian. Los Gatos, Willow Glen and Menlo-Atherton are the leaders in the top divisions of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County public school leagues.

So who is No. 1?

We're giving the nod to St. Francis, the defending Central Coast Section Division I champion. The Lancers (11-2, 6-2) have an outstanding ace in John Gavin and plenty of supporting arms.

"They've got the most talent,'' Mitty coach Bill Hutton said.

  • What we've learned in examining the season records of the top teams in our coverage area is that they all tend to beat each other.

    As noted, there's very little difference between the top three teams in the WCAL, all with two losses in league. Bellarmine, tied for fourth place with St. Ignatius, is 7-0 in nonleague play. St. Ignatius has losses to Westmont and Capuchino but has a win over St. Francis.


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    Los Gatos, at 15-3 and with two wins over a Wilcox team that beat Mitty, might be the best local public school. But Leigh, the second-place team in the Blossom Valley Athletic League's Mount Hamilton Division, beat Los Gatos twice.

    First-place Willow Glen has losses to Los Gatos, Wilcox and Palo Alto from the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division.

    Menlo-Atherton is undefeated in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play but has losses to Sequoia and Hillsdale of the PAL Ocean. Capuchino, another Ocean team, has gone 2-0 against the WCAL with wins over St. Ignatius and Archbishop Riordan.

  • Pitching depth will be the key when the inaugural CCS Open Division baseball playoffs arrive this postseason. The baseball Open Division has been implemented in order to get all the "A" league champions (WCAL, BVAL Mount Hamilton, SCVAL De Anza, PAL Bay, Monterey Bay League Gabilan and Santa Cruz Coast League) into one bracket and determine an overall CCS best team.

    The 16-team bracket will be filled out with teams that opt up and teams with the highest point totals.

    Most all the teams that make the Open will have at least one outstanding pitcher. Two or three likely will be needed to go deep into the Open playoffs.

    "There will be some great first-round matchups,'' Hutton said. "After that, pitching depth will be a key.''