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In Baseball Playoffs, Simi Valley Should Look Out for No. 1

May 14, 1986|JOHANNES TESSELAAR | Times Staff Writer

Mike Scyphers, baseball coach at Simi Valley High, knows his team is not a cinch to win the Southern Section's 4-A Division championship.

"No. 1 teams have been upset all the time," said Scyphers, whose Pioneers are ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section and No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball magazine. "In fact, I can't remember the last time a team won it after being ranked No. 1."

In fact, it has been 16 years since the top-ranked team entering the playoffs won the championship in the 4-A Division. In 1970, Lakewood was seeded No. 1 and won the title by beating Ventura, 5-4.

Since then, only one top-ranked team has even reached the championship game--the 1975 Lakewood team that lost to Hoover, 2-1.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Scyphers said. "It's just not going to happen because we're No. 1."

The Pioneers (23-3) play host to Muir in the opening round Friday. Muir, as Simi Valley fans would probably like to forget, is the team that beat the Pioneers in the 4-A basketball championship game two months ago.

Lower Watts: Quincy Watts hadn't even recovered from winning the 440-yard dash at Friday's West Valley League track and field finals when the call came for the 220, another of Watts' events.

"I didn't even stretch, I was so tired," he said. "I was behind my blocks, bending over and feeling dizzy. I just got in there and ran."

And as usual, he won. Earlier that day, the Taft sophomore had won the 100-meter dash.

But the way he felt before and after the 220 convinced him that he can't run three individual events at the City quarterfinals this week.

The reason: Not enough time between races.

Watts said he needs about 45 minutes to recover from a race. The time between the 440 and 200 meters is only 25 minutes. So instead of running the 100, 200, 440 and anchoring the 400-meter relay during the City finals, Watts will run in the 100, 200, 400-meter relay and mile-relay.

"I think I'll probably be able to do it my junior or senior year," Watts said.

Taft Coach Tom Stevenson said Watts' chances of winning the two sprints will be increased because he won't run the 440.

"And if the mile-relay team can get about four points in the City, I'll be happy," Stevenson said.

Experience needed: Simi Valley enters the baseball playoffs on a 16-game win streak. A year ago, Simi Valley won its first 18 games, earned a No. 1 ranking in the Southern Section, then finished the season losing five of 11 games. The Pioneers lost in the second round of the playoffs to Long Beach Poly, 9-3.

The difference this season, Scyphers said, "is the maturity and character that we've gotten out of our seniors."

Simi Valley received attention last season with its fast start, and Scyphers thinks that has helped now that the Pioneers are the No. 1 team in the nation.

"Last year, it was more like we were playing for tournaments than league," Scyphers said. "This year, we didn't do that. We lost in two tournaments early on, but it wasn't the end of the season."

Half-court press: Coach Jeff Pressman has adopted a soft-sell approach for his Montclair Prep baseball team. Even though his Mounties are ranked No. 1 entering the Southern Section 1-A playoffs, Pressman is hardly talking in terms of another title. He's won four in the Small Schools Division.

"We'll have to beat five good teams," he said. "But I don't think anyone is going to take any pleasure in playing us."

And that may be as far as Pressman will go to hype the Mounties.

Still, Montclair Prep will be tough to beat in the playoffs. The Mounties, who won the Alpha League with a 13-1 record (20-3 overall), are an experienced team. Thirteen players, including eight starters, are back from a team that advanced to the 1-A quarterfinals last season.

"We've had a very good, consistent offense," Pressman said. "There are no weaknesses in the lineup. You can't pitch around anybody."

Every starter is hitting at least .300. Curtis Minks leads at .457.

Minks is a left fielder who was supposed to be the Mounties' No. 1 pitcher this year after performing well in the playoffs last season. But arm problems have limited him to just 8 innings this year.

Pitchers Scott Hauser and Scott Randall have filled the void. Hauser is 8-0; Randall is 7-1. Reggie Smith Jr., probably the Mounties' most talented player, has been a stopper in relief, posting a 4-0 record.

Pressman said this team is probably his second best to the 1981 team that won the Small Schools championship. Montclair Prep also won the Small Schools title in 1978, 1979 and 1982.

Montclair Prep begins the first round of the playoffs Friday at home against Mary Star of the Sea. The 1-A final will be played May 31 at Dodger Stadium.

"That is probably a tremendous amount of incentive for our team," Pressman said, "to get to Dodger Stadium. That would be the biggest thrill of my coaching life."

Jack McCrory has resigned as basketball coach at Royal High in Simi Valley to accept a similar post at Bear River High in Grass Valley, a community north of Sacramento. Bear River is a new high school that will open its doors in the fall with no senior class. Seniors will be added in 1987.

Aside from coaching the basketball team, McCrory will serve as athletic director and an assistant coach in the football and track programs. McCrory was the Royal basketball coach during the past two seasons. Royal tied for third place in the Marmonte League last season but did not advance to the playoffs.

His replacement has not been named.

McCrory said the decision to leave Royal was personal.

"It's going to be hard to leave my good friends at Royal," McCrory said. "But it's a positive move because I think this is a better place to live and a better place to raise kids."

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