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1997 SOFTBALL PREVIEW : OLYMPIC LEAGUE

March 11, 1997|DAN ARRITT

Brethren Christian: 6-11-1, 2-8 in 1996. Coach: Dave Clifton (sixth year, 58-40-1). Prospects: The Warriors' strength is their team unity and defense, but inconsistent hitting and inexperienced pitching could be a downfall. Pitcher/first baseman Jessica Echaves was a first-team all-league selection her junior season and much of Brethren Christian's hopes lie with her. Seniors Melissa Cape and Natasha Saran occupy key positions at catcher and shortstop, respectively, and Clifton expects big seasons. Eight starters return, including most of the infield.

Cerritos Valley Christian: 15-6-1, 6-4 in 1996. Coach: Ed Campos (first year). Prospects: Campos takes over for Eleanor Dykstra, who left after 20 seasons. Dykstra wasn't the only loss. Pitcher Susie Shoales, catcher Crystal Rosenthal and second baseman Erin Fluck--all section all-Division V players in the past--graduated. Sophomore Tracy Halma has to fill Shoales' sizable shoes, and first baseman Shannon Kester, an all-league player, will lead the returning players.

Calvary Chapel: 19-10, 8-2 in 1996. Coach: Rose Imbriano (second year, 19-10). Prospects: Calvary Chapel is the clear-cut favorite to repeat as league champion after winning its first title in 1996. The Eagles have a potent offense. Amanda Holloway transferred in from Pacifica and Imbriano expects her to bring a lot of power to the club. Multi-sport star Christy Ring (.631) led the county in batting as a sophomore last season and earned first-team Times all-county along the way. Senior Keri Przygocki (14-4, .355 batting average), was named league most valuable player after going 8-0 against the other Olympic League teams. Sophomore second baseman/outfielder Anna Jones (.315) was another all-league selection and Imbriano expects her and Przygocki to hit for more power this season. Freshman center fielder Lindsey Stice provides speed from the left side of the plate and in the outfield. Calvary Chapel could emerge as a top 10 team in the county.

Ontario Christian: 16-6, 6-4 in 1996. Coach: Tom Van't Land (seventh year, 62-51). Prospects: The Knights reached the semifinals before losing to Division V champion Santa Monica Crossroads, 3-0. Junior left-hander Melissa Thayer (16-5, 1.88) and senior shortstop Ruth Van't Land (.463, 27 runs, 23 stolen bases) return from that team; both are two-time all-Division V players.

Orange Lutheran: 13-9, 3-7 in 1996. Coach: Kirk Norton (second year, 13-9). Prospects: Pitching and defense are what Orange Lutheran do best, and those two factors will determine how much success the Lancers have. Orange Lutheran is also experienced, with nine returning lettermen and seven starters on this season's roster. All-league sophomore pitcher Erin Norton (.519, 1.20) brings a solid bat and a sound arm into this season, and she will find some relief in the circle from junior pitcher Tiffany Johnson (1.80). Offensively, there is a big drop after Norton with the next highest returning average, belonging to sophomore infielder Molly Slane (.233).

Whittier Christian: 10-13, 5-5 in 1996. Coach: Gary Guy (third year, 17-24). Prospects: The Heralds' strength lies in their experience. Seven starters return from a fairly successful campaign. Seniors Melissa Blank (.246), Krista Rojas (.225) and two-time all-league pitcher Joey Miller (9-13, 0.97, 148 strikeouts) will provide most of the leadership, while junior all-league shortstop Jodi Allesi (.320, 12 RBI) will give the Heralds some punch in the middle of the lineup. Other key players will be sophomore all-league third baseman Celina Camarillo (.290, 11 stolen bases) and junior infielder Julie Smith (.261).

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