It's been five years since an area program has won a CIF-Southern Section baseball championship.
That title was won by Oaks Christian in 2013, via a 4-0 victory over El Rancho in the Division 4 final. The year before that, Newbury Park took home the Division 1 crown in a 2-1 victory over Corona at Dodger Stadium.
Is this the season a Ventura County team racks up the next Southern Section baseball championship?
Area basketball teams are still playing, winter rains are falling in earnest and March Madness is all over the headlines. Which means, of course, it's time to Spring Forward!
High school's spring sports are well underway, which carries with it a number of key talking points for county teams. Here are five of the most meaningful questions to consider for the always dramatic spring season:
Is a CIF-SS baseball championship on the horizon for a county team or teams?
Grace Brethren came close last season, falling 2-1 in eight innings to top-seeded Tahquitz in the Division 4 title contest.
Still, it's been a frustrating drought for a county rich in baseball tradition. County teams delivered seven Southern Section championships and nine finals appearances from 2000 to 2013.
Since then, Grace Brethren a year ago is the only program to qualify for a championship game.
As usual, the regions offers up a slew of serious contenders. As always, baseball remains the most challenging sport to bring home a championship.
Upping the ante this spring is the fact that three of the county's top teams — Newbury Park, Oaks Christian and Moorpark — will compete in grueling Division 1. Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Agoura, Rio Mesa, St. Bonaventure and Calabasas are all slated for Division 2.
Grace Brethren, off its playoff run a year ago, has moved up to Division 2.
Another big season for softball?
It's been a remarkable run for area programs, with four championships and five title-game appearances in the last four seasons.
There's no reason the trend won't continue in 2018, though challenges are obvious:
Camarillo and Oaks Christian will compete in upper-echelon Division 1 and Buena jumps up to join Agoura, Newbury Park, Simi Valley and Rio Mesa in Division 2.
Is there another county "super team" at hand for boys volleyball?
In a word — OK, two words — probably not.
Oak Park's uniquely talented group the last four seasons included Adam and Alex Parks, now both at UCLA. The Eagles became a bona-fide contender even in Division 1.
There may not be an aggregation like that in the county this season, but, yes, there are serious contenders.
One team to watch is Channel Islands, which has become a powerhouse in its own right the past two seasons, albeit in lower divisions.
The Raiders have begun the season at 10-0 and boast several top-notch players.
Channel Islands has been elevated to Division 2 this season along with Agoura, Buena, Camarillo, Moorpark, Oaks Christian, Oxnard, Rio Mesa, Royal, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.
The region's other top programs — Westlake, Newbury Park, Oak Park and Calabasas -— will operate in upper-crust Division 1.
Who are the county's next kings and queens in track and field?
Tara Davis, Lauren Rain Williams and Robbie Otal are among the region's stellar seniors a year ago who have graduated.
So who's got next?
While there may not be many stars of that magnitude, the cupboard is never bare in Ventura County.
Keep an eye on top boys standouts Miles Zoltak of Thousand Oaks and Chase Wells of Oxanrd (200, 400); Riley Hunt of Simi Valley (110, 300 hurdles); and Carlos Aviles (shot put discus) and Derek Pekar of Ventura (long jump).
Talented girls this season include Jenna Mencarelli and Maya Sharp of Westlake (100, 200); Sylvia Cruz-Albrecht of Oak Park (800, 3,200); and Rowan Cuadrado of Oaks Christian (high jump).
Youth shined a year ago, with Rio Mesa girls freshman Teagan Monroe winning a pair of CIF-SS individual championships in Division 3 and freshman Tea Laughlin of Ventura taking second in the 100 backstroke in elite Division 1.
They will be back to make a splash this spring, along with a solid group that includes Jason Lu of Newbury Park, Sarah Clark and Jeremy Marcin of Westlake, Tori Ball of Oxnard and Caitlin Potter of Foothill Tech.
Loren Ledin is Prep Editor of The Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 805-437-0285.
Through March 12
Division 1 — 1. Ayala, 2. Yucaipa, 3. Norco, 4. Beckman, 5. El Modena, 6. Esperanza, 7. Camarillo, 8. Paraclete, 9. Redondo Union, 10. Sierra Canyon.
Division 3 — 1. Temecula Valley, 2. Arcadia, 3. Citrus Valley, 4. Maranatha, 5. Fullerton, 6. Warren, 7. San Luis Obispo, 8. California, 9. Northwood, 10. Redlands. Other: 11. Grace Brethren.
Division 7 — 1. Temecula Prep, 2. University Prep, 3. de Toledo, 4. Dominguez, 5. Fillmore, 6. Milken Community, 7. Bolsa Academy, 8. Antelope Valley, 9. St. Genevieve, 10. La Sierra Academy.
Division 1 — 1. Los Alamitos, 2. Norco, 3. Mater Dei, 4. Orange Lutheran, 5. Garden Grove-Pacifica, 6. Los Altos, 7. Camarillo, 8. Santiago, 9. Saugus, 10. La Habra. Other: 12. Oaks Christian.
Division 4 — 1. Paloma Valley, 2. Downey, 3. Calabasas, 4. Godinez, 5. San Juan Hills, 6. Glendale, 7. Burbank, 8. South El Monte, 9. Sultana, 10. Alta Loma.
Division 5 — 1. JW North, 2. Aquinas, 3. La Canada, 4. La Reina, 5. Palm Springs, 6. Chaminade, 7. Temple City, 8. El Segundo, 9. Santa Paula, 10. Whittier Christian. Other: 11. Grace Brethren.
Division 7 —1. Santa Clara, 2. Twentynine Palms, 3. Costa Mesa, 4. St . Mary's, 5. Hawthorne MSA, 6. Grove, 7. Firebaugh, 8. Dominguez, 9. Campbell Hall, 10. Marymount.
Division 1 — 1. Newport Harbor, 2. South Torrance, 3. Redondo Union, 4. Mira Costa, 5. Corona del Mar, 6. Loyola, 7. Huntington Beach, 8. Servite, 9. Alemany, 10. (T) Westlake, Beckman.
Division 2 — 1. Orange Lutheran, 2. Lakewood, 3. Peninsula, 4. Irvine, 5. Quartz Hill, 6. San Juan Hills, 7. Thousand Oaks, 8. El Toro, 9. St. John Bosco, 10. Bishop Montgomery.
Division 3 — 1. South Pasadena, 2. Etiwanda, 3. Mark Keppel, 4. Aliso Niguel, 5. Simi Valley, 6. Crespi, 6. Ventura, 8. Culver City, 9. Burbank, 10. Rancho Cucamonga. Other: 13. Royal.