The Cal Poly Pomona women's softball team may have had mixed feelings after receiving a berth in this week's NCAA Division I regionals.
Not that the Broncos were unhappy about receiving a playoff bid after finishing fourth in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. But their regional opponent will be Cal State Fullerton, which won the conference and is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
"Getting a regional bid is the biggest thing," Pomona Coach Carol Spanks said. "We don't really care whom we play."
The best-of-three series at Fullerton opens with a single game at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The second game is at 1 p.m. Saturday and that will be followed by the third game, if necessary.
Pomona, ranked No. 12 in Division I, enters postseason play with a 42-21 record (22-12 in PCAA) and Fullerton is 55-8 (31-5 in PCAA). It is the sixth straight year in the playoffs for both teams.
If games against Fullerton the last two seasons are indicative, the Broncos have their hands full. Pomona is 2-8-1 against the Titans during that span. The Broncos also have struggled to a 5-7 all-time record in postseason play. Pomona's best finish was fourth place in 1985.
The Broncos may be facing Fullerton at the right time, though. The Titans have struggled since their NCAA-record 34-game victory streak was snapped by Pomona on April 21.
"We have a lot of respect for Fullerton, but we have a lot of confidence in our ability," Spanks said. "We've earned the right to be there. We've beaten them before and we've had a lot of close ballgames against each other that could have gone either way."
The series will showcase two of the premier pitchers in the nation. Pomona is led by senior Rhonda Wheatley and Fullerton by senior Connie Clark. Wheatley has a 35-19 record with 3 saves and an 0.53 earned-run average this season and Clark is 29-3 with an 0.46 ERA age and 219 strikeouts.
Wheatley, who has the most career wins in Division I history with a four-year record of 139-58-2, has not fared as well against the Titans this season with a 1-4 mark and 0.91 ERA.
But Pomona's top two hitters, junior center fielder Alison Stowell and junior third baseman Betsy Burr, have played well against Fullerton. Stowell is batting .417 against the Titans and Burr .308. For the season, Stowell is hitting .311 with 2 home runs and 25 runs batted in and Burr is batting .312 with a team-leading 34 sacrifices.
Pomona's top power threats are junior first baseman Kandi Burke, who has 5 home runs, 28 RBI and a .288 average, and Wheatley, who has 5 homers and 21 RBI. Another standout has been junior shortstop Dana Ramos, a walk-on transfer from Golden West College who has a team-leading 33 RBI.
The winner of the series will advance to the World Series from May 20 through 24 at Omaha.
Senior pitcher Rhonda Wheatley, who has led the Cal Poly Pomona women's softball team to the NCAA playoffs for four straight years, has been named Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. co-player of the year with pitcher Connie Clark of Cal State Fullerton.
Wheatley, a standout at Workman High of Industry, was joined on the All-PCAA first team by Pomona shortstop Dana Ramos and outfielder Alison Stowell, a junior from Walnut High.
Third baseman Betsy Burr was selected to the second team as a utility player.
Senior first baseman Tim Pawley, who led Azusa Pacific University to the first Golden West Athletic Conference baseball championship, has been named NAIA District III player of the year.
Pawley, an Arcadia High standout, shared top honors in the district with Azusa Pacific's Tony Barbone, named coach of the year for the second season in a row after guiding the Cougars to a 32-21 record and a berth in the district playoffs. Pawley, who was among his team's leaders in most offensive categories, batted .405 with 17 homers and 63 runs batted in.
Pawley was joined on the all-district first team by six teammates: junior outfielder Ralph Acosta, junior designated hitter Leonard Avalos, senior catcher Scott Winterburn, junior shortstop David Titchenal, junior second baseman Javier Murillo and junior pitcher Dean Weaver.
Acosta, a transfer from Rio Hondo College, and Avalos, a transfer from Citrus College, were among team leaders in several categories. Acosta batted .408 with 13 homers and 52 RBI and Avalos hit .371 with 16 homers and 60 RBI.
Azusa Pacific, which posted a school-record .340 team batting average, also received excellent offensive production from Murillo (.362), Winterburn (.337) and Titchenal (.327). Weaver, the team's top pitcher, had a 9-3 record and 4.19 earned-run average.
Thirteen girls and four boys from San Gabriel Valley high schools have been named winners of the 1986-87 CIF Southern Section Academic Awards.