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BASEBALL 1977 PREVIEW : The Top 10

March 04, 1997|MIKE TERRY

1. Canyon

The consensus is that the Comanches, who are also top-ranked in the USA Today preseason poll, are the one great county team starting out. Should they win the National Classic tournament and defend their Division II championship, they will finish that way.

2. Capistrano Valley

Last year, the Cougars began the season No. 1 but still could not dislodge Mater Dei from atop the South Coast League standings. Capistrano Valley is loaded with pitching, led by senior standout Rik Currier.

3. Mater Dei

Yes, it's hard to spot another top-flight pitcher on the roster to complement left-hander Mike Kolbach. And the lineup might not have quite the muscle it did the last two seasons. But the Monarchs usually play well enough to earn a spot among the top five teams.

4. Esperanza

This may be a reach, but the Aztecs, after early injuries to their pitching staff, were among the best in the county in the second half of the 1996 season. Most of that team is back, healthy and hungry; Esperanza has been without a baseball section title since 1993.

5. Fountain Valley

The Barons survived the soft spots in their pitching staff because they got a 15-win season from Steve Schenewerk, who has moved on to Pepperdine. Fountain Valley has reached the Division I final the last three seasons and won twice.

6. La Quinta

Opponents grumble at the quality players who flock to Coach Dave Demarest's program. But it's hard to argue with the success rate that hasincluded 37 consecutive Garden Grove League victories, four consecutive league titles and two Division III championships.

7. Servite

Last season's Golden West League championship was not an accident. Servite's playoff taste--getting eliminated in the second round by Redondo Beach Redondo Union--should only stimulate the Friars this season.

8. Sonora

Be it complacency or the belief that the three-run homer was just an at-bat away, the Raiders underachieved in 1996. The defending Division II champions were dumped by Upland in the first round of the playoffs. Expect Sonora to have learned its lesson--and gained a dash of humility.

9. Katella

Another perennial top-10 team the last few seasons. Even though Katella doesn't have quite the hitting it had the last couple of years, the Knights are still a potent group.

10. El Dorado

The Hawks are solid and deep; they return the most all-league players in the Empire League.

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