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1997 SOFTBALL PREVIEW : CENTURY LEAGUE

March 11, 1997|MARTIN HENDERSON

Canyon: 22-11, 7-3 in 1995-96. Coach: Lance Eddy (14th year, 222-123-3). Prospects: Canyon hopes to end Foothill's run of six consecutive league championships. Canyon upset third-seeded Newbury Park to reach the Division I semifinals before losing to Mater Dei. Pitcher Veronica Lopez (16-7, 1.05 earned-run average), The Times all-county second-team utility player, batted .411 with 13 runs and 16 runs batted in. She is joined by another all-league first-teamer, senior shortstop Ro Lutz (.230, 19 runs), second-team junior center fielder Becky Tippets (.323, 20 runs), and third baseman Amber Kolle (.136), who stepped up in the Comanches' playoff drive. A possible trouble spot: Lopez's pitches will mean little if they aren't caught by one of the three freshmen trying to fill the position of Hawaii Hilo's Kristie Hiatt.

El Modena: 18-12, 5-5 in 1995-96. Coach: Rhonda Weyer (third year, 28-24). Prospects: It says something to make this all-league team, and El Modena had three first-teamers, catcher Carrie Bates (.383, 14 runs, 13 RBIs), pitcher Courtney Heil (16-12, 1.09) and outfielder Jessica Keenan (.261, 12 RBIs). Junior shortstop Chrissy Lake (.340, 15 runs) was a second-team all-league player. Bates has signed with North Carolina. The Vanguards reached the second round of the playoffs before losing to section champion Mater Dei. Eight starters return, and sophomore third baseman Dustin Vulcan could be a valuable addition.

Foothill: 29-3, 10-0 in 1995-96. Coach: Joe Gonzalez (eighth year, 165-45). Prospects: Sure, graduated pitcher Marie Gieron (22-3, 0.40) is gone to Creighton, and senior first baseman Robin Tessman (.437, 20 RBIs) is now at Orange. And a shoulder injury could keep all-league third baseman Jenny Beltran out until April 1. But two Times all-county first-team and one second-team players return: senior center fielder Lauren Bauer (.382, 33 runs, 22 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, three homers), sophomore shortstop Jaime Clark (.426, 29 runs, 31 RBIs, 16 stolen bases) and junior first baseman Lindsay Fossatti (.376, 16 runs, 26 RBIs, three homers). Fossatti was no slouch as a pitcher either, going 7-0 with a 0.13 ERA.

Orange: 11-13, 3-7 in 1995-96. Coach: Rocky Parker (first year). Prospects: Parker takes over for Jim Prelesnik, who compiled a 113-111 record over 10 seasons. Parker's task is to keep the Panthers competitive without standout Dara Marzolo (.424, 13 runs, four home runs, 14 RBIs), now at Cal State Fullerton. Trying to pick up the slack from that hole in the lineup are the three returning starters, sophomore infield/pitcher Kimi Boyce, senior infielder/outfielder Pam DeWitt (.396, 11 RBIs) and junior catcher Carole Espinoza, who was an all-league honorable mention player.

Santa Ana Valley: 4-23, 0-10 in 1995-96. Coach: Terry Orabona (fifth year, 18-75). Prospects: The Falcons are led by two all-league seniors, pitcher Yesenia Paniagua and center fielder Angie Rodriguez. Sophomore catcher Sharmaine Kendrick was a second-team selection. Other returners are sophomores B.B. De La Riva and Ana Velasquez. All-league shortstop Mayra Orejel opted to run track.

Villa Park: 13-15, 5-5 in 1995-96. Coaches: David Shelton, Laura Janzen (17th year, 237-154-2). Prospects: Shelton, who directed his teams to seven league titles, returns with a co-coach after a one-year hiatus. Senior pitcher Heather Culver, bound for South Carolina, sat out much of 1996 with an injury. Other leading candidates to make Villa Park a winner again are sophomore shortstop Kristina McCarty (three homers, 10 stolen bases) and junior pitcher Kristen Daniels (7-7).

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