Sure, the Orange Empire Conference baseball season ended 10 days ago. And sure, there already have been two rounds of the state playoffs with a third to start Friday.
But, somehow, it doesn't seem all that different from the Orange Empire Conference season.
First, Orange Coast and Rancho Santiago colleges played Saturday to decide which team would advance to the third round of the playoffs. Rancho Santiago won, 2-1, in the fifth meeting this season between the teams, both Orange Empire Conference members.
With the victory, Rancho Santiago earned a berth in one of the two Southern California Regionals.
Rancho Santiago (29-15) will take on Cypress (31-13), another Orange Empire Conference member, at 11 a.m. Friday in the first round of the double-elimination regional at Rancho Santiago. The Dons defeated Cypress in three of four games this season, but Cypress won the conference title by one game over Rancho Santiago and Orange Coast.
"We can't worry about what happens all season," Rancho Santiago Coach Don Sneddon said. "We could have beaten them, 20-0, four times and it wouldn't matter. This is a whole new start."
Los Angeles Harbor (29-13) plays Palomar (21-15-1) at 3 p.m. Friday at Rancho Santiago. The losers' bracket game is at 10 a.m. Saturday at Fullerton College and the winners will play at 11 a.m. Saturday at Rancho Santiago. The regional final is Sunday and its winner advances to the state tournament at Sacramento City College, May 26-28.
By winning the conference title, Cypress got a 13-day break, but Coach Scott Pickler doesn't think the layoff will affect his team.
"You try and make your practices as much like games as possible," Pickler said.
Both Sneddon and Pickler said pitching that decides the regional. And when it comes to pitching, Cypress should hold an advantage over Rancho Santiago. Cypress used three starters--Jeff Patterson (9-3), Dennis Burbank (12-4) and Rich Lodding (7-2)--all season. Rancho Santiago went with Jack Bailey (12-4) and Willie Navarrette (11-4).
Records? Navarrette's complete-game victory over Orange Coast Saturday gave him a Rancho Santiago single-season record 140 1/3 innings pitched. But he might not hold the record too long. Teammate Bailey has pitched 139 1/3 innings this season.
Navarrette, a sophomore left-hander, has pitched 248 1/3 innings in his community college career and has a good chance to set a school record by surpassing Mike Schwabe (1985-86), who pitched 257 1/3 innings.
Navarrette needs three more victories to tie Schwabe's career record of 25. Because of a misprint in the Rancho Santiago media guide, Navarrette was thought to have broken the record Saturday.
The Cypress softball team travels to San Diego Mesa today at noon to complete its best-of-three second round of the playoff series. Cypress won Saturday's opening game, 4-2, but Sunday's game was rained out.
If Cypress loses the first game today, the teams would play again immediately afterward.
The winner of the series advances to the state tournament, which starts Friday at Golden West. Cypress is 34-12 and Mesa is 28-14.
At noon, the Cypress/Mesa winner plays San Mateo (34-10) and Fullerton (35-10) plays Foothill (28-7). At 2 p.m., West Valley (34-13) plays Moorpark (34-10) and Fresno City (29-21) plays Palomar (34-5). The double-elimination tournament continues Friday night, Saturday and Sunday at Golden West.
Back in March, when Mike Mayne said he was stepping down as baseball coach at Orange Coast, he had thoughts of working as an assistant at a four-year program or for a professional organization.
But Mayne now says he will stay at Orange Coast and work as an assistant. Scott Groot, now an assistant at Orange Coast, will be head coach.
"A lot of people are saying that I'm leaving OCC," Mayne said. "It's not true. I'll be there just like always, only as an assistant coach. I'm just getting away from some of the administrative duties that the head coach has to look after."
Community College Notes
The Orange Coast and Golden West women's tennis teams play at 2 p.m. today at Ridgeline Country Club in Orange for the Southern California dual-meet team championship. Orange Coast won the Southern California individual championships over the weekend with 19 points. Golden West was second with 18 points. . . . The Orange Coast freshmen eight crew has been invited to the Intercollegiate Rowing Championships June 1-3 on Lake Ononodaga in Syracuse, N.Y.