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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | THE COLLEGES

Mohney Right On Mark

April 16, 1998|VINCE KOWALICK

Len Mohney may never rival the success of Mike Gillespie as baseball coach at College of the Canyons.

But that has never been the point.

Mohney made clear in 1987 that he did not intend to fill the shoes of Gillespie, who left after 16 seasons at Canyons to become coach at USC.

More than a decade later, while quietly maintaining success and approaching a career milestone, Mohney makes clear he has no aspirations to follow in his mentor's footsteps.

"I'm not looking to go to USC or anything like that," Mohney said with a laugh. "I have enough around here to keep me busy.

"But who knows?"

Certainly not Mohney, 43, an unlikely coaching candidate who nevertheless has carved out an impressive career through loyalty and consistency.

Mohney (296-181), in his 12th season in his only head-coaching position, is closing in on career victory No. 300, a plateau that might be reached next week.

Yet, while Mohney might pause to reflect, no celebrations are planned.

Canyons (18-12, 9-8 in Western State Conference play) clings to third place in the WSC South Division and is in pursuit of a third consecutive WSC title and ninth in Mohney's tenure.

Mohney, a former Canyons utility player and assistant to Gillespie for 10 seasons, inherited a program steeped in tradition and success.

The Cougars won three state championships in six seasons during the 1980s, including 1986, Gillespie's final season. Gillespie compiled a 419-132 record and won 11 conference titles.

Mohney, a member of Canyons' first teams in 1973 and '74, made good his first season at the helm, leading an inexperienced team to a seventh consecutive conference title and the Southern California regionals.

Mohney managed that season despite being hospitalized because of intestinal inflammation and the death of his mother.

Since then, conference titles have continued to come and a continuity has remained. Assistant Andy Allensworth has served as Mohney's assistant since the beginning.

Chris Zavatsky, another longtime assistant, was a relief pitcher and captain for Mohney's first team.

Last season, Canyons reached the Southern California Reginal finals. The Cougars, however, have not returned to the state finals since Gillespie's days.

Not that it matters.

"It's a great level to coach at and a great community and I'm happy," Mohney said. "I do have a lot of memories and I love to tell stories. There have been too many guys who have played for me here to pick the best."

*

Canyons plays host to first-place Glendale in a key WSC South Division game today at 2:30.

Glendale (21-10), for years a conference doormat, is in first place at 12-5 and inching closer to its first conference title since 1981.

A prime reason for Glendale's success is pitching. The Vaqueros rank third in the WSC in team earned-run average and Gerald De La Pena and Wes Hutchison rank among the WSC's top seven pitchers.

De La Pena, a graduate of Hoover High, is 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Hutchison, a former standout at Burroughs, is 4-2 with a 2.05 ERA. Hutchison ranks second to Barry Zito of Pierce in the WSC with 39 strikeouts.

Offensively, Eli Albertson (.391), Freddy Sanchez (.379) and John Campanella (.365) lead Glendale.

*

Valley and Bakersfield square off today at Valley in a crucial WSC softball game. Valley (14-7 overall) is first at 7-2 in the WSC South Division. Bakersfield (17-13-1) is a game back at 6-3.

Valley players rank second, fourth and sixth among WSC batting leaders: Norma Dorado (.714), Maria Luna (.500) and Angie Arroyo (.500).

*

WSC playoffs: The WSC men's tennis championships take place Friday through Sunday at Santa Barbara City. Pierce entered the week 12-1 and 10-0 in WSC. The WSC women's championships take place today through Saturday at Ventura College. Ventura (6-7) is fourth in conference behind first-place Cuesta, Santa Barbara and Hancock. Play begins each day at 2:30. . . . The WSC men's and women's diving championships take place Saturday at Citrus at 2:30. Ventura ranks third in conference among men and women. . . . The next WSC golf match is scheduled for Monday at Rio Bravo Country Club in Bakersfield. . . . The WSC men's and women's track and field preliminaries take place Saturday at Santa Barbara City at 11 a.m.

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