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1997 SOFTBALL PREVIEW : GOLDEN WEST LEAGUE

March 11, 1997|MARTIN HENDERSON

Ocean View: 16-11, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: John Sansone (fourth year, 51-25-1). Prospects: Eight starters are back, and only two are seniors, including second-team all-league pitcher Sara Gulla (9-6, 1.02 earned-run average). The real heart of this team is its junior class, which includes shortstop Lovie Jung (.386, 22 runs, 12 runs batted in) and catcher Cara Vanderhook (.311, 11 RBIs), and second baseman Daniella Garcia (.292); the two former were first-team all-league players, and Garcia was a second-teamer. An injury forces Vanderhook to second base, and Garcia moves to catcher. The most dangerous bat in the lineup could belong to sophomore third baseman Leah Gulla (.446, 33 runs, 19 RBIs). Sophomore Tia Jordan will split time with Sara Gulla in the pitcher's circle. The Seahawks, in a three-way tie for first place, made a hasty Division II playoff exit, losing a wild-card game to El Toro, 1-0.

Rosary: 22-10, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Tom Tice (fourth year, 56-26). Prospects: Eight starters return to the first-place Royals, but they took a considerable hit, losing pitcher Julie Luna (16-6, 0.34), a Times all-county second-team player. Her replacement, junior Christy Ledford (3-1, 0.74), had notable victories over El Toro and El Dorado. Seven players were all-league on the first or second team, including shortstop Lesley Fulton (.400, nine RBIs in 14 games), center fielder Laura Fulton (.352, 18 stolen bases)--both of whom will attend Miami of Ohio next season--right fielder Marissa Perez (.382, three home runs, 15 RBIs), all of whom are seniors, and junior first baseman Theresa Cronin (.322, 15 RBIs). The Royals lost in the quarterfinals to La Mirada, 1-0.

Saddleback: 8-9, 3-7 in 1995-96. Coach: Cathy Buendia (first year). Prospects: The coach need look no further than the kitchen table for her pitcher, Linsey Buendia. Buendia (6-7, 0.98), who made an oral commitment to Chapman, is a three-time all-league first-team player who struck out 125 in 93 innings. Senior outfielders Melinda Rivera and Judy Hernandez lead the six other returning players who, in a tough league, are just hoping to make the playoffs.

Santa Ana: 4-20, 0-10 in 1995-96. Coach: Glenn Mitchell (eighth year, 24-128). Prospects: A tough spot for the Saints, only one senior returns among the five starters, but first-team all-league shortstop Leta Espinosa batted .364 with 34 stolen bases. Only five starters are back, including sophomore pitcher Lori Morales, who will be counted on heavily. Catcher Nelly Abarca, outfielder Lisa Bernal and first baseman Isaura DeLeon are returning juniors.

Tustin: 9-20, 3-7 in 1995-96. Coach: John Silvas (first year). Prospects: Junior shortstop Nicole Stokes (.440, 26 runs) had a county-high 39 stolen bases last year after stealing 34 as a freshman. Among the seven starters returning are senior catcher Jenny Odom (.367), junior third baseman Michelle Silvas (.323) and sophomore first baseman/pitcher Brook Brown. Freshman Melody Reff, a travel ball pitcher, could make an impact; she steps into the No. 1 role right away.

Westminster: 20-7, 8-2 in 1995-96. Coach: Conway deSha (second year, 20-7). Prospects: There's a lot to like about first-place Westminster, which returns intact, beginning with leadoff batter Kelly Hauxhurst, a two-time Times All-County player. Hauxhurst (.500, 34 runs, 27 RBIs) stole 39 bases, matching Tustin's Stokes for the county lead. Shortstop Krissy Keene (.433, seven HRs, 26 RBIs) was a Times' second-team DH. Sophomore Lacy Hauxhurst (.374, 18 runs, 23 RBIs), coupled with sophomore Ashley Maranto (9-4, 0.50) and senior Brenda Quinn (10-2, 0.62), give the Lions a solid battery.

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