The CIF Southern Section released the playoff divisions for the coming spring sports season. 

The Santa Ynez High School softball team will remain in Division 5, according to the competitive equity formula results released last week.

In 2018, the Pirates advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs last season after qualifying for the postseason as a wild card card team. 

The Pirates finished 15-8-2 overall last season, the final year of the now disbanded Los Padres League. They finished 9-5 in LPL play, good enough for third place behind Templeton and Lompoc. 

The Pirates won their wild card and first-round games. The Pirates beat Arroyo 10-3 in the wild card round before topping Simi Valley Grace Brethren 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

Armani Garcia, as a sophomore, threw a no-hitter in the win over Grace Brethren as she struck out 11 batters.

In the second round against Riverside JW North, the Pirates scored three runs in the top of the first inning but could not hang on against the Huskies, losing 5-4.

"We had it," Santa Ynez coach Denicia Gills said back in May. "We played better than them. We had every opportunity."

Garcia earned the LPL's Pitcher of the Year award and was named the All-Area Pitcher of the Year. 

In 2017, Santa Ynez advanced to the Division 7 title game, where the Pirates lost to Sun Valley Village Christian in the final, 7-4. They went 20-8 in 2017 and 10-4 in Los Padres League play. 

The team's results from 2017 and 2018 are used to determine division placement in 2019. 

The Pirates were nearly placed in Division 6. The division placements are "based upon a two-year weighted power point total" according to the CIF Southern Section. There's a 25-percent value for the 2017 season and 75-percent value for 2018.

The placings are based on the strength of a team's regular season schedule results and playoff performance results against schools from within the Southern Section.

Opponents from outside the Southern Section currently carry a power point value of zero, according to the CIF. Playoff games are awarded bonus points for each round of advancement.

All that means is Santa Ynez' playoff performance in 2018 likely kept them in the same division for 2019. The Pirates' power point total used to place it in Division 5 for 2019 is 107.74. The highest total in Division 5 is Ontario Colony with, with 117.92 points.

Chaminade, the 2018 Division 5 champ, was bumped up all the way to Division 2. 

The CIF says that breaks in each division were set based on the number of schools it takes to find on average 30 automatic playoff qualifiers. Schools that do not report two years of data are not eligible for entry into the 2019 softball playoffs.

The Pirates will play a number of out-of-section games against Central Coast schools that have since moved to the CIF Central Section. Thirteen schools from the Santa Maria Valley and San Luis Obispo County have moved to the Central Section, leaving Santa Ynez, Lompoc and Cabrillo to move to the Channel League with Santa Barbara-area schools.

The Pirates will play in the Channel League with Santa Barbara, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos, Cabrillo and Lompoc.

Santa Ynez is scheduled to start its softball season on Feb. 9 with a games against Pioneer Valley. The Pirates also have Santa Maria and St. Joseph on its early-season schedule. 

Cabrillo is in Division 6 with a two-year point total of 99.54. Lompoc is also in Division 5 with Santa Ynez with a point total of 112.75. Dos Puebos is in Division 4 (126.46), Santa Barbara (97.32) is in Division 6 and San Marcos (137.43) is in Division 3.

Up next: Division placements for Santa Ynez baseball and other spring sports teams, including boys tennis.

Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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