There were obvious questions about El Segundo High pitcher Derek Fowler at the start of the season.
Foremost was whether he was healthy enough to be a factor after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder midway through his junior season.
Fowler has answered the question in resounding fashion.
In his past two games, the 6-foot, 170-pound right-hander turned in one of the most remarkable back-to-back pitching performances in the South Bay in recent years. During that span, he has given up only one hit and three walks and has 30 strikeouts.
First, he threw a one-hitter and struck out 17 in El Segundo's 4-0 victory over San Luis Obispo at the SLO tournament. For an encore against Culver City on Friday, he tossed a no-hitter and struck out 13 in a 9-0 victory.
On the season, Fowler has a 6-2 record and 1.35 earned-run average. He has 75 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings.
Fowler's performance has been one of the biggest reasons why the Eagles (15-8, 9-1 in league) have taken the Ocean League lead. Longtime El Segundo Coach John Stevenson thinks Fowler's best days are ahead.
"I think that will be the case whether it's in high school or beyond," Stevenson said. "He's always had arm problems, but he's finally at the point where he's been able to work through it."
That could mean big problems for winless Morningside (0-9) on Friday when Fowler makes his next start. It also bodes well in the playoffs for El Segundo, which has another outstanding starter in Jack Hawley (4-0).
"I feel good about this team's potential," Stevenson said. "Everything has been more than I expected. This has been a real surprise."
The most surprising of which has been the pitching of Fowler.
COMING OF AGE
The season didn't start with lofty expectations for the San Pedro High baseball team.
With seven sophomores and juniors in the team's starting lineup, the best days for the Pirates appeared at a year away.
That was before San Pedro won 14 of its first 16 games and moved into a share of first place in the Pacific League with Carson. The success has even caught Coach Jerry Lovarov by surprise.
"If somebody had told me we'd be 14-2, I'd have even questioned it," Lovarov said.
He said the team has flourished behind a combination of good defense and timely hitting.
"We lost kids to eligibility and we plugged in with a lot of young kids and they've simply improved as we've gone along," Lovarov said.
Among the top players for the Pirates have been sophomore shortstop Frank Kunich and junior Ryan Klepper, who has made a transition from first base to catcher.
As well as the Pirates have played, Lovarov is quick to remind his team that its most difficult games are ahead. They have two more games against Carson, today at Carson and in the regular-season finale for both teams May 16. San Pedro also has league games remaining against Banning and Gardena.
But Lovarov doesn't appear overly concerned.
"They're all good teams, but I think we can compete with them," he said. "No question about it."
It has been a waiting game for the Cal State Dominguez Hills women's softball team this week.
The Toros (32-16, 10-5 in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.), who finished second to perennial power Cal State Bakersfield in league play, are hoping to receive a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs when the pairings are announced Monday.
Dominguez Hills has been ranked No. 5 in the Division II West Region but is in good position to move up after a strong regular-season finish. The top four teams in the region are expected to advance to the playoffs.
The Toros, playing in their first season under Coach Stephanie Fleischaker, have been led by the pitching of sophomore Tamara Sagert with a 31-15 record. She has already set five single-season school records including wins (31), complete games (46) and shutouts (14).
At least the Loyola Marymount women's tennis team is consistent.
For the eighth year in a row, the Lions finished in third place at the West Coast Conference Championships last week in San Diego. Once again, Loyola finished behind perennial powers Pepperdine and San Diego.
But with six freshmen on the 10-player roster, the Lions appear in good position to improve in upcoming seasons. Their top two players this season were freshmen Mara Colaizzi and Amy Labetich.
Colaizzi finished with a 28-9 record in singles play and Labetich was 27-14 in singles and 21-14 in doubles. In finishing at 22-10, the Lions also tied the school record for wins and posted their best winning percentage ever at .688.
The women's tennis teams at Marymount and Harbor colleges have each advanced singles and doubles players into the state community college regionals Friday and Saturday at Long Beach City College.
Marymount has qualified Devon Sedlacek, the South Coast Conference champion in singles, and Justine Germanides and Sedlacek in doubles. Harbor has advanced freshman Grace Galvez in singles and freshman Norma Dickinson and Galvez in doubles.