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1998 BASEBALL PREVIEW

The Top 10

March 03, 1998

1. Santa Margarita. The Eagles' eight returning players combined for 34 home runs and 140 runs batted in last year. Just as important, they remember blowing the Sea View League title.

2. La Quinta. Nearly the equal of Santa Margarita in everyday players. If catcher Gerald Laird can handle the pressure of being a potential first-round draft pick, the Aztecs could win their third section title in five years.

3. Fountain Valley. Coach Ron La Ruffa can't do anything about injuries, but you can bet he will not stand for the sloppy play that undermined the Barons last year.

4. Servite. The Friars will need their starters to stay healthy. But they have the types of starters who can carry them deep into the playoffs.

5. Esperanza. The Aztecs lost 17 players to graduation, but the defending Division I champions usually have plenty in reserve.

6. El Dorado. The Hawks' team colors are black and gold, but their collars are blue. They may not go all the way, but no team will work or play harder.

7. Mater Dei. After ace Nick Lovato, the Monarchs' pitching is questionable. But the 1-2 hitting punch of Brett Kay and Pat Manning make them formidable.

8. Canyon. As two-time defending section champions, the Comanches will have to play themselves out of the top 10. Century League rival Foothill would love to be the one doing the shoving.

9. Tustin. The Tillers would be the clear favorite to win the Golden West League title if Servite wasn't also there.

10. Sonora. The Raiders get the nod over Laguna Hills for the last spot because their pitching appears better.

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