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1998 SOFTBALL PREVIEW

Small Schools

March 10, 1998

* Capistrano Valley Christian: 10-9, 7-3 in 1997. Coach: Delmar Fralick (first year). Prospects: The Eagles, second in the Academy League, try to match last season's performance with one senior, three sophomores and eight freshmen. If they do, sophomore pitcher Lauren Capriotti (4-3) and freshman pitcher/catcher Diane Hardcastle will be largely responsible.

* Connelly: 5-9, 4-6 in 1997. Coach: Kimberly Zavodnik (second year, 5-9). Prospects: Junior outfielder Melanie Maton and sophomore first baseman Teresa McNamara, who have shown a knack for leading a very young team (three juniors, nine sophomores, three freshmen) head a group of six returning starters. Second baseman Maureen Ward (second team all-league) gets help from newcomer Michelle Gonzalez, a sophomore shortstop who provides power in the middle of the lineup.

* Fairmont: 2-12, 1-9 in 1997. Coach: Paul Sage (first year). Prospects: Junior catcher Missy Lucia is the anchor of the Huskies' lineup and is one of two returning starters, along with junior outfielder Crystal Page. Two sophomores--infielder Vanessa Burns and outfielder Darcy Jackson--also return, and help should come from sophomore third baseman Bobbie Jean Norris, a transfer from Savanna. But six of 11 Huskies have never played softball previously, and they are without a pitcher.

* Heritage Christian: 4-11, 4-6 in 1997. Coach: Debbie Lund (first year). Prospects: First baseman Melinda Williams, third baseman Jennifer Heitman and second baseman Emily Wanke will be counted on heavily because the team is composed of five sophomores and six freshmen. Junior pitcher Krystal Williams and sophomore catcher Shawna Murphy also return as starters on a team hoping to beat out Liberty Christian for second place (behind Norwalk Pioneer Baptist) in the Express League.

* Liberty Christian: 11-6, 7-3 in 1997. Coach: Armando Fernandez (first year). Prospects: the Minutemen hope to make a charge to the Express league title without any seniors, though they return six sophomores from last season's team who should benefit from a year's maturity: catcher Tristan Fernandez, first baseman Crissy Davis, third baseman Briana Barton, outfielders Sharon Halpin and Felicia Jao, and pitcher Tonielle Antonesse. Also returning is junior shortstop Tiffany Potter.

* St. Margaret's: 21-5, 10-0 in 1997. Coach: Nancy Linaweaver (fourth year, 47-19). Prospects: The Tartans, Division VI semifinalists last season, are favorites to repeat as Academy League champion. Sisters Abbey and Amber Arnold were All-CIF selections: Amber (9-3, 0.39 ERA) had 162 strikeouts in 89 innings, and Abbey (10-2, 0.52 ERA) had 155 strikeouts in 79 innings. Offensively, Abbey (.479, 29 RBIs) scored 31 runs while Amber (.467, 28 RBIs) scored 30. Three sophomores are second-team all-league performers: first baseman Heather Webb (.441), second baseman Katie Massrey (.254) and third baseman Tasha Huo (no errors).

* Southern California Christian: 18-2, 10-0 in 1997. Coaches: J.T. Cameron/Gary Huntley (first year). Prospects: The Flames won the Arrowhead League title last year and have six starters back, including junior Delci Huntley (15-1, 0.97 ERA), the league MVP and an All-CIF pitcher. She is joined by second-team All-CIF shortstop Claudette Morrell (.465, 3 HR, 20 RBIs), and two all-league players--first-team first baseman Natalie Hernandez (.451, 21 RBIs) and outfielder Erika Nelson. Sophomore second baseman Jesse Loya (.405, 10 RBIs) and junior outfielder Stephanie Schinhofen (.375) also return.

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