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Once-Lowly Los Amigos Is Winning in Softball

April 14, 1998

Pacifica no doubt will roll through the Garden Grove League to another softball title, but the battle that's taking place behind the Mariners has the makings of a feel-good story.

Los Amigos not only stopped a six-year league losing streak this season, but the Lobos are battling for second place. Since ending a 65-game losing streak in 1995, when they finished 1-21-1, the Lobos have won only five games. They have doubled that total this season with a 10-3 record. Los Amigos is 4-1 in league.

Third-year Coach Gregg Aguilar said a couple of things have happened that turned the team around.

"The team jelled and finally understood what talent they have amongst themselves," said Aguilar, 23. "And it's better to not fight among themselves. Also, I'm a younger coach, and the respect level wasn't there when I took over, and now I think they believe in me and the coaching staff."

Pitcher Kim Guillen (10-3) is leading the county in victories, using off-speed pitches to induce the ground balls that have been gobbled up by the defense, which has been critical to the turnaround.

"We're averaging two errors per game instead of eight to 10 errors per game like the last two years," Aguilar said.

The leading batter, Elise Burke, is a freshman. The other top hitter, Suzy Reyes, is a senior catcher who survived the program's abyss.

"They are extremely excited," Aguilar said. "The core of my team has been with me since they were freshmen."

The Lobos start only two seniors to go along with four juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

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Brethren Christian sophomore Stephen Garcia, took first place in the 127-pound weight class at the Cadet World Greco-Roman wrestling Thursday at Northwestern University.

With the victory, Garcia, who finished fifth in the state high school championships, earned a spot on the USA World Cadet Championship team that will compete in the world trials in South Africa in June.

Sophomore teammate Michael Simpson, finished third in the 117-pound class. If either of the top two finishers are unable to compete in South Africa, Simpson, who finished fourth in the state, will be the replacement.

Also, wrestling at Northwestern, but not placing, were Brethren Christian's Daniel Cadwallader (92 pounds) and Calvary Chapel's Frank Gill (121 pounds).

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Though Brea Olinda was the state's highest ranked girls' basketball team most of the year and finished the season at 33-1, the Ladycats were displaced by Harbor City Narbonne (32-4, including three forfeit losses) in Cal-Hi Sports' final poll.

"Usually, you drop when you lose," Sink said. "Those things happen when championships are decided on factors other than [direct] competition. They have a good team, no doubt."

The rationale, largely, was based on Narbonne dismantling some of the state's top-ranked teams in the playoffs, including No. 3 Berkeley, 67-46, in the Division I state championship game.

"I see a case for Narbonne, not that I think they're a better team than us," Sink said. "Berkeley ran with them, and that's hard to do. We might not have employed that tactic for the whole game.

"[But] they're a very good team, and we'll see next year. We might see them twice. They had a great game against Berkeley, and that was the rationale.

"We'll have a good team next year. It should a good game. We'll be OK."

Brea plays a home game against the Gauchos on Jan. 23, 1999, and could also face Narbonne in the Tournament of Champions in Santa Barbara, which is shaping up as the premier high school girls' tournament in the country.

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Correspondent Melanie Neff contributed to this report.

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