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1997 SOFTBALL PREVIEW : GARDEN GROVE LEAGUE

March 11, 1997|DAVE McKIBBEN

Bolsa Grande: 15-11, 9-3 in 1996. Coach: Al Verellen (third year, 29-19). Prospects: The Matadors return five starters from a team that lost to El Modena in the first round of the Division I playoffs. The top players back are league MVP pitcher Mary Petrie (15-8, 137 strikeouts), first team all-league outfielder Erica De Los Santos and second-team all-leaguer Amanda Stone. Verellen has holes to fill at third base--all-league player Jill Tantardini graduated--and in center field. But this will not be a rebuilding year for Bolsa Grande. The Matadors probably won't contend with Pacifica for the league title but will be good enough to earn a playoff berth.

Garden Grove: 22-9, 9-3 in 1996. Coach: Cliff White (third year, 42-17). Prospects: Kathy Moore (13-5), the Argonauts' best pitcher last year, chose not to play this season; she already has a scholarship to New Mexico. Junior Erica Hammontree (.325, 12 RBIs), a catcher last season, will try to pick up the slack. Sophomore Nuvia Marti (.298), a first-team all-league pick, is the Argonauts' second pitcher. The only other returning starter is sophomore center fielder Cheri Nelson, a second-team all-league pick.

La Quinta: 10-13, 4-8 in 1996. Coach: Jackie Duncan-McConnell (first year). Prospects: Seven starters return from a group that was competitive last year. First team all-league player Jaclyn Fredrickson, a senior shortstop, gives the Aztecs stability up the middle and power-hitting first baseman/pitcher Heidi Foster should provide some offense. If Garden Grove or Bolsa Grande falter, the Aztecs could sneak into the top three.

Los Amigos: 1-21, 0-12 in 1996. Coach: Greg Aguilar (second year, 1-21). Prospects: The Lobos should be better than last year, but they are still young. Of the six returning starters, only first baseman/pitcher Quianna Wiley is a senior; four others are sophomores.

Pacifica: 26-4, 11-1 in 1996. Coach: Rob Weil (eighth year, 135-38). Prospects: The Mariners are ranked second in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, behind Mater Dei. They return six all-league players, including two first-team all-county selections--junior pitcher Amanda Freed (13-3, 0.14 ERA) and senior pitcher/infielder Toni Mascarenas (10-1, 0.28 ERA, .411 batting average), who is Arizona bound. They also have one of the county's top freshmen in outfielder Shauna Goessling, who will bat leadoff. If there's a weakness on this team, Weil couldn't find one. Anything short of a league and section title would probably be a disappointment with all this talent.

Rancho Alamitos: 5-18, 4-8 in 1996. Coach: Dave Paig (first year). Prospects: The Vaqueros should have no trouble improving last year's record. They return five starters, all seniors: shortstop Mandy Girouard, catcher Kristyn Hennes, right fielder Nicole McNemar, third baseman Ha Nguyen and left fielder Alexandra Villa. Paig is excited about freshman pitchers Kristina Hyllested and Trisha Heinlen, freshman second baseman Kelly Gates and sophomore center fielder Tameka Russell.

Santiago: 10-12, 5-7 in 1996. Coach: Corky Driver (10th year). Prospects: First-team all-league infielder Jackie Godinez (.500, 13 runs, 10 RBIs) heads the list of seven returning seniors. Senior Erica Pilkington (79 strikeouts) and freshman Alison Decker give the Cavaliers a solid pitching staff.

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