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COLLEGES / IRENE GARCIA : Loyola Finds Some Gems on Diamond

April 23, 1993|IRENE GARCIA

With no scholarships to offer, the Loyola Marymount softball team struggles to attract the caliber of athletes required to be force in Division I.

Fifth-year Coach Ed Aronin is making best of the situation, however, and for the first time in school history, the Lions have a player batting over .400. Loyola (10-16) also has its best record since the 1989 club finished 12-17.

On March 23, the Lions beat Northeastern Illinois, 5-3, for its first victory in five years against a Division I opponent.

"It's still extremely difficult," said Aronin, who also coaches the Notre Dame Academy girls' basketball team. "Last year we had an average of five players per practice. . . . Supposedly in two years we will get two scholarships."

The Lions have been led by sophomore Judey Petix. The 19-year-old center fielder leads the team with a .411 batting average and has 23 hits, nine runs batted in and has scored eight runs.

The 5-foot-9 left-hander was the most valuable player on the Loyola club soccer team last year.

"Speed is her best asset," Aronin said. "As a defender she can get to any ball really quick. She's also a good contact hitter who rarely strikes out."

Petix was a soccer and softball player at University High in San Diego. As a senior, she was a named to the All-Western League second team as an outfielder.

Petix says her freshman season at Loyola was frustrating because the Lions finished 3-17.

"It was like a club team last year," she said. "This year we have a lot more intensity. We've got more spark and we're more competitive. We even get a lot of people to come out and watch. Last year people would ask, 'We have a softball team?' Now we even have bleachers."

Junior Theresa Conway leads the team in RBIs with 14. Her most impressive statistic, however, is that she has yet to strike out in 195 career at-bats.

The Lions will complete the season this weekend with a doubleheader at UC San Diego.

Petix earned a Presidential Scholarship at University, which is awarded to the nation's outstanding academic achievers. The scholarship covers nearly half of her expenses at Loyola.

Earlier this month, Petix was nominated to the GTE Academic All-American team.

A humanities major, Petix has a 3.7 grade-point average and is enrolled in Loyola's honors program.

"It's been really difficult for me playing sports year-round," she said. "But sports helps me manage my time."

On a typical day, Petix attends classes from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., then attends softball practice until 5. After dinner, she is off to the library until midnight. Twice a week she participates in weight training with the soccer team.

Aronin, 49, is a retired trial lawyer who wants to dedicate his life to coaching.

"I want to do it full time," he said. "Now I have to see what area I want to lean toward."

After coaching the Little League version of girls' softball for five years, he took over the softball program at St. Bernard High in 1988 and led the Vikings to a 14-3 record and the second round of the Southern Section playoffs.

Last year he was named The Times' Westside girls' basketball coach of the year after leading Notre Dame Academy to the quarterfinals of the Division IV-AA playoffs.

Notes

The El Camino College women's tennis team is undefeated in South Coast Conference play at 11-0. The Warriors are 13-1 overall. . . . The Harbor College baseball team is in first place in the South Coast Conference at 10-2-1. The Seahawks are 22-8-1 overall. Third baseman Tristan Paul and second baseman David Rosato lead the team in batting with averages of .423. Center fielder Rolando Avila is batting .404. . . . Southwest College's Kyhann Woods leads the state in the long jump with a leap of 24-feet-9 3/4. . . . The El Camino women's 1,600-relay team (3:54.94) and sprint medley relay teams (1:45.00) are ranked No. 1 in the state. The Warriors' Liz Sutton ranks second in the state in the 400 meters (1:01.64) and Israel Pose ranks fifth in the 5,000 meters (14:41.24).

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