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1997 SOFTBALL PREVIEW : SEA VIEW LEAGUE

March 11, 1997|MELANIE NEFF

Corona del Mar: 9-15, 0-10 in 1996. Coach: Scott Gorton (second year, 9-15). Prospects: The Sea Kings, light on depth and experience, improved their team speed with the arrival of Lindsey Lucas (.290), a junior outfielder from Calvary Chapel, and freshman second baseman Julia Livingston. They join six returning starters, including all-league first-team senior Hayden Aley (3-8, 1.80 earned-run average, .261 batting average), junior shortstop Megan Henning (.400 on-base average), senior outfielder Erica Zoelle (.269 batting average) and senior first baseman Penny Marston (.250).

El Toro: 19-13, 6-4 in 1996. Coach: Jim Daugherty (12th year, 218-122). Prospects: The Chargers lost a lot at the top of the order when two-time Times All-County left fielder Dana Gulick (.363, 15 runs, 15 stolen bases) and second-team center fielder Jennifer Hamer (.307, 15 RBIs) graduated. Gulick is at Arkansas, Hamer at Louisiana State. All-league pitcher Suzanne Guy (9-4, 1.06), a junior, will have to step up her game, along with returning senior second baseman Anne Skidmore (.226), senior shortstop Rachael Wennekamp (.257) and sophomore third baseman Jennifer Morey (.278).

Irvine: 22-7-1, 7-3 in 1996. Coach: Lisa Baker (eighth year, 140-43-1). Prospects: Baker, Times Coach of the Year after a surprising season, reached the second round of the playoffs. Massachusetts-bound outfielder Debbie Tomoguchi (.424, 17 runs, 31 RBIs), a Times all-county first-team player, leads nine returning starters, including junior Colleen Young (15-4, 0.65) and three second-team all-league players: senior catcher Missy Brigman, junior outfielder Edel Leyden and sophomore outfielder Brett Nakabayashi (.346, 15 stolen bases).

Newport Harbor: 9-11, 2-8 in 1996. Coach: Mike Mullen (fifth year, 41-45-1). Prospects: The Sailors have more experience than they've had in Mullen's five years, but there's a question mark at pitching: senior Molli Mullen (2.42 ERA) is coming off chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin's Disease. Outside the circle, senior catcher Stephanie Gosselin (.477, 11 runs, 13 RBIs) leads six returning starters, which include senior center fielder Lori Metcalf (.272), sophomore shortstop Shawn Talley (.277) and Mullen (.292).

Santa Margarita: 16-11, 5-5 in 1996. Coach: Tammy Delp (second year, 16-11). Prospects: The Eagles upgraded their speed with freshmen outfielders Krystal Fonte and Erin Dobrowolski, but the burden of leading the team still falls on junior shortstop Kristen Morley (.409, 28 runs, 10 RBIs), second baseman Christina Ashley (.329) and pitcher Jackie Farmer (10-4, 0.84). Among the other eight returning starters are third baseman Jessica Bartholomew (.293), catcher Nikki Piscitelli (.291), and right fielder Lisa Kahle (.282).

Woodbridge: 28-6, 10-0 in 1996. Coach: Alan Dugard (sixth year, 150-41). Prospects: The Warriors have won 14 consecutive league titles, and have been a section finalist the last three years--winning twice. There's every reason to believe they'll make a similar showing this season, beginning with two returning Times All-County first-team players, junior pitcher Christy Robitaille (21-5, 0.39, 192 strikeouts in 186 1/3 innings) and senior first baseman Ashley Boone (.349, 16 runs, 12 RBIs). Mix in second-team third baseman, senior Lizzy Lemire (.364, 23 RBIs), and the foundation is there for another solid year. Lemire has committed to Notre Dame. Among the five other returning starters are junior second baseman Nichole Thompson (.304, 11 RBIs), and junior outfielder Lisa Watanabe (.301, 12 stolen bases).

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