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SOFTBALL / PAIGE A. LEECH

DiMarco Doubles as Coach and Fortuneteller

August 29, 1996|PAIGE A. LEECH

Coach Pete DiMarco doesn't claim to be clairvoyant--except, perhaps, when it comes to Big League Little League softball in the Antelope Valley. On that subject, he has keen insight.

"For the past three years, I've often thought of what would happen if we could put the best of these players together to play instead of playing against each other," DiMarco said. "And I always knew if the time ever came, the results would be exactly what they turned out to be."

World champions is what the Antelope Valley Big League All-Stars turned out to be after beating Williamsport, Pa., 2-0, in the championship game of the Big League World Series in Kalamazoo, Mich., last week.

DiMarco and Frank Slaton brought Big League softball to the Antelope Valley last year. In 1995, Big League consisted of one team, which had to travel to the Riverside area each weekend to qualify for the divisional and regional playoffs.

Last year, that team nearly advanced to the World Series, but fell one game short, losing in the regional final in Mesa, Ariz. But it was clearly the start of something big.

"Based on our success last year, we lit a fire," DiMarco said. "All of the sudden the girls came out of the woodwork."

This year the league ballooned to four teams, consisting of players ages 16 to 18 from the Antelope Valley. After a 22-game league season, 15 all-stars were chosen from those four teams and they were mostly the same girls DiMarco had set his sights on three years ago.

"When all the girls signed up, all the right characters came into play," he said.

The all-star team, consisting of girls from Palmdale, Quartz Hill, Paraclete, Highland and Boron highs, and Antelope Valley College, cruised through divisional and regional playoffs and into the World Series in Kalamazoo.

In the final against Williamsport, Vicky McKay of Paraclete pitched a four-hitter and Highland's Kellie Reid, who batted .231 in all-star action, drove in the game's only runs in the first and sixth innings to claim the title.

Through the playoffs, McKay pitched 61 innings, allowed 27 hits, nine walks and one earned run, and struck out 57.

"Vicky McKay is a good as they come," DiMarco said. "She can pitch on any team anywhere."

Providing the bulk of the offense were Paraclete's Kristal Nessa (.359), Quartz Hill's Amber Slaton (.349), Palmdale's Kristi DiMarco (.306) and recent graduates Kristi Globig (.343) of Highland and Theresa Beltrami (.316) of Palmdale.

*

When a team is a good as the California Commotion, practice isn't necessarily, well, necessary.

The Commotion, a Valley-based women's Open Division team, headed to last week's Amateur Softball Assn. national tournament in Stratford, Conn., without so much as one practice or game under its belt.

The Commotion originally consisted of seven Olympic players and the team opted to skip summer tournaments because of the playing conflicts in Atlanta.

But it obviously didn't matter. The Commotion, which lost three of the original seven Olympic members to other commitments, defeated the Southern California Jazz, 10-0, on the mercy rule in the championship game.

"We went there to take care of business and finish what we started last year," said Coach Kirk Walker, who grew up in the Valley and is head coach at Oregon State. "That was a big issue for us."

While most teams are required to qualify for the national tournament, the Commotion received an automatic bid because it finished second to the Redding Rebels in the national tournament a year ago.

The Commotion, which includes former area high school standouts Amy Chellevold (Thousand Oaks), Sheila Cornell (Taft), Jenny Dalton (Glendale) and Karen Walker (El Camino Real), made the most of their short time together.

"It was immediately a cohesive unit from Day One," Kirk Walker said.

And not a moment too soon. Day One was the day before the team's opener in the tournament, the day the Commotion finally got together for a practice.

Chellevold, an assistant at Arizona, was named an ASA All-American, and Cornell, a U.S. Olympian and UCLA graduate, earned second-team honors.

The Commotion lost to right-hander Sara Griffin and the Jazz, 2-1, forcing a winner-take-all game 20 minutes later. Griffin, a Simi Valley High graduate, is entering her junior year at Michigan.

*

Resumes have been sent out and Camarillo High Coach Nichole Victoria is playing the waiting game.

Victoria, 23, The Times' 1996 Ventura County coach of the year who guided the Scorpions to the Southern Section Division I final, is seeking a college job.

With aspirations of one day becoming a head coach at a Division I university, Victoria has applied for assistant and graduate assistant positions at Washington, Texas A&M, Purdue and Ball State.

Victoria, a Camarillo alumna and UCLA graduate has not resigned her position with the Scorpions.

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