There are no state playoffs in California, but winning the CIF Southern Section Division I title like POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Norco did last Saturday is perhaps a more difficult task than winning an actual state title anywhere else in the nation.
The Cougars cemented their No. 1 ranking by defeating defending champion Santiago (Corona, Calif.) 6-4 in the CIFSS title game and capping a 30-2 season.
Reasons that the CIFSS Division I bracket is so tough include the size of the section (it's bigger in number of schools than 44 states), the single-elimination format and the section's desire to place most of the top-level programs in the top division.
With previous No. 2 Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) and No. 4 Plano East (Plano, Texas) both losing last week, there were changes in the top five of this week's rankings. Porter Ridge (Indian Trail, N.C.) moved up to No. 2 while Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.), which has been done with its season for nearly a month, has now inched up to No. 3.
There probably won't be too much movement in the rankings, however, for the rest of the season. There are only a handful of states in the Midwest and East regions still playing softball. The season ended last weekend in California, Oregon, Texas and North Carolina.