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JUST PREPS | SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS PREVIEW

City Almost Done, Southern Section Begins

May 22, 1997|ERIC MADDY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The City Section is down to four softball teams in two divisions, with titles being decided Tuesday at UCLA. In the Southern Section, the playoffs began Wednesday with 212 teams qualifying in six divisions.

What to expect:

City Section Division 4-A

Second-seeded Woodland Hills El Camino Real earned a return to the final with a 2-1 victory over Granada Hills on Tuesday for its eighth victory a row. The Conquistadores will face top-seeded Granada Hills Kennedy in a rematch of last year's championship game, which El Camino Real won, 6-0. Kennedy advanced with a 4-0 victory over Carson.

Division 3-A

Third-seeded South Gate earned a return trip to the final with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Verdugo Hills, the defending champion. Pitcher Candace Esquivel scored the winning run and earned the victory to improve to 17-1. The Rams will play fifth-seeded Westchester, which upset top-seeded Venice, 9-2.

Southern Section Division I

Top-seeded Anaheim Foothill and defending champion Santa Ana Mater Dei head up the deepest division. Despite being a Division III school by enrollment, Foothill chose to move up. The Knights are led by sophomore shortstop Jaime Clark (.488, 29 RBIs) and senior center fielder Lauren Bauer (.506). Junior Lindsay Fossatti and sophomore Lauren Schwendiman share pitching duties. Mater Dei hasn't looked quite as sharp this season as in 1996, when the Monarchs went 30-1. Sophomore Marissa Young (.452, 24 RBIs; 9-2, 0.50 ERA) was unable to pitch for a month at midseason because of arm problems, giving freshman Tia Bollinger a chance. Bollinger (14-3, 0.07) lost only to Garden Grove Pacifica (twice) and Santa Maria Righetti.

Division II

The division could have the feature matchup of the championship weekend if top-seeded Irvine Woodbridge and second-seeded Righetti advance to the final. Woodbridge (29-2), a Division II finalist last season, carries a 24-game winning streak into the postseason, and that includes victories over Mater Dei and Arizona state champion Scottsdale Chaparral. Righetti (29-2) may not have the depth that Woodbridge boasts, but it has a battery that is tough to beat. Junior Jocelyn Forest (29-2, 0.24, 440 strikeouts) is considered by many to be the top pitcher in the state, and junior catcher Debralee Troesh and senior second baseman Brandy Greenwood lead the offense.

Division III

Any discussion of the bracket starts and ends with Pacifica (25-1). Although they have never won a softball crown, the Mariners have advanced to the quarterfinals the last three years and have mythical state and national titles awaiting them if they can get through their next five games. They have two of the best two-way players in the state. Amanda Freed (15-0, 0-25 ERA; .427 batting average) has thrown six no-hitters this year and is considered the best junior prospect in the nation; and Arizona-bound senior Toni Mascarenas (9-1, 0.36; .412) is equally at home in the circle or in the infield.

Division IV

Mission Hills Alemany is top-seeded on the strength of junior pitcher Kim Diener (18-3, 0.77) and the bats of Regina Yuhasz (.481), Meghann Reiss (.455) and Elena Lira (.451). The Indians are seeking the school's first section title in softball. Garden Grove Bolsa Grande, West Hills Chaminade and Santa Fe Springs St. Paul round out the seeded teams in a rebuilt division; none of the four seeded teams advanced past the second round last season.

Division V

Santa Maria St. Joseph is one of only three schools to win five section titles (Marina and Woodbridge are the others), and the Knights have an excellent chance to make it six. Senior pitcher Kerri Duncan and senior shortstop Angeli Guerrero are the keys. Second-seeded Santa Ana Calvary Chapel relies on junior shortstop Christy Ring (.551) and the senior pitching tandem of Linda Van Hook (10-2) and Keri Przygocki (11-3).

Division VI

Top-seeded Temecula Linfeld is a return finalist. The Lions rely on senior Janelle Gonzales (11-1, 0.37; .520), senior third baseman Amy Bateman (.441) and junior center fielder Jenny Pahl (.447). Second-seeded Boron has gotten impressive pitching from junior Summer Richardson (17-2, 255 strikeouts), who has not given up an earned run this season.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Key Softball Playoff Dates

CITY SECTION

* Finals--Tuesday at UCLA. Division 4-A, 5 p.m.; Division 3-A, 3 p.m.

SOUTHERN SECTION

* First round--Friday, designated home sites.

* Second round--Tuesday, designated home sites.

* Quarterfinals--May 29, designated home sites.

* Semifinals--June 3, alternate sites.

* Finals--June 6-7, Lakewood Mayfair Park. Game times to be announced.

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