Two South Bay teams are seeded in the CIF high school baseball playoffs that begin Friday. However, they are not necessarily the two best South Bay teams.
As expected, Redondo is third seed in the 4-A Division. St. Bernard, which won the Camino Real League title, is seeded third in the 1-A Division.
The surprise is in the 3-A brackets, where El Segundo, ranked second or third the entire season, is not one of the four seeds. The Eagles apparently fell out of favor by losing a Pioneer League game last week to Miraleste, then splitting a double-header with Redondo.
As champion of the Pioneer League, El Segundo still gets to open at home. Being unseeded merely means that the Eagles will have to play a seeded team one round sooner.
As Redondo Coach Harry Jenkins says, the draw doesn't really matter at this point. "Win five," he told his team earlier this week. "Don't worry about who we're playing."
For the record, Redondo, the Bay League champion, is playing Millikan. In other 4-A openers Ocean League champ Torrance is at home against Newbury Park, North Torrance opens at El Dorado and Rolling Hills has to travel to second-seeded Lakewood.
The top 4-A seed is Simi Valley, rated the nation's No. 1 team by USA Today.
In 3-A playoffs, El Segundo plays host to Savanna and Leuzinger travels to Rio Mesa. The top seed in 3-A is Sonora.
St. Bernard will throw fireballer Tim Williams at Chaminade in a 1-A home opener. Mary Star drew No. 1 seed Montclair Prep and will play on the road.
In Small Schools, Prep League champion Chadwick will play either Masada or Windward.
All the games are scheduled to begin at approximately 3 p.m. Friday.
Teams that win four games to reach the division championships will play May 31 in Dodger Stadium for the upper division titles. The Small Schools Division will play at a different site May 30.
With a pitching combination of senior Damon Salisbury and sophomore Scott Davison, Redondo may have as good a chance as anyone to knock off Simi Valley. Jenkins says his one-two punch "is as consistent as my 1981 team" which featured two All-CIF pitchers, Dan O'Dell and Greg Carne.
Salisbury, a finesse type who didn't pitch in his first two years on varsity, is 11-2. Davison, a hard-throwing sophomore who was 7-0 as a freshman, is 10-2. Each plays shortstop when the other is pitching. Davison is also a tough out and is among team leaders in runs batted in.
"I'm real confident in both of them," Jenkins said. 'It's nice to have that (one-two punch) for once."
Redondo (24-4-1) has been winning all year and the offense has even improved in the last month, led by Davison, junior designated hitter Pete Shoenfield, sophomore first baseman Tom Doyle, senior left fielder Dan Campbell--who recently had a 9-RBI game--and catcher Jeff Lopez.
The recent scoring surge pleases Jenkins, who pointed out, "The hitting had been poor and we were still winning."
Lately the Seahawks have been winning big. The pitching and defense have been solid when they were winning the close ones. Salisbury, a two-year all-leaguer as an everyday player, has come through on the mound. While scouts marvel at the young Davison, Jenkins said Salisbury "has been kind of overlooked. He's been a very consistent three-year player."
Lopez, a three-year starter, and junior second baseman Mike Stone have been the focus of the defense.
"Lopez is an outstanding catcher," Jenkins said. "Stone has had a great year. He was a question mark but he's developed into the best second baseman in the area, I think. We made 16 double plays, a school record, and it's due to him turning it. Last year we had six."
Stone is slated to do next season what Salisbury did this year--become the No. 2 pitcher and play the infield when Davison throws.
Jenkins said throwing is the name of the game in 4-A this year. the team with a hot pitcher--not necessarily Simi Valley--will go all the way. "The 4-A has a lot of pitching, really strong," Jenkins said. "There are a lot of (pro) prospect-type pitchers. Get any of them hot, they can win it. I haven't seen Simi but with the kind of pitching there is (in the division) I don't think they will" run away with the title.
Despite the snub, El Segundo's four-deep pitching makes the Eagles a 3-A contender. They finished the regular season 23-5-1. The Eagles' top hurlers are senior Zak Shinall (10-3) and sophomore Heath Jones, younger brother of Cincinnati Reds rookie and former Loyola Marymount star Tracy Jones. Coach John Stevenson can also bring in 250-pound junior Scott Talanoa and junior Dan Parente.
Girls softball playoffs begin today, featuring two seeded South Bay teams: Miraleste, the second seed in 1-A, and Avalon, the fourth seed in Small Schools. All games are tentatively set for 3 p.m.
Openers for 4-A today are El Dorado at Bay League champion Rolling Hills and Redondo at Edison. Rolling Hills will put the Bay League's best pitcher, Andrea Bausch, on the mound.
North Torrance, featuring star pitcher Stephanie Skegas, is at home against Sonora and Torrance travels to Fullerton in 3-A openers Friday.
In 2-A match-ups, Camino Real League champ Mary Star plays host to Mountain View and St. Bernard is at Alemany Friday.
Once-beaten Miraleste, the Pioneer League champ, is at home against Cerritos Valley Christian in a 1-A opener, while El Segundo travels to Los Angeles Baptist and Leuzinger is at Calabasas today.