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1998 SOFTBALL PREVIEW

Orange League

March 10, 1998

* Anaheim: 0-18, 0-10 in 1997. Coach: Kim Jeffers (second year, 0-18). Prospects: The Colonists have struggled, winning once in the last three years. The rebuilding process continues, led by sophomore Wendy Chacon, who played second base. Though their softball experience is limited, help may come from other sports, such as volleyball player Yesenia Rodriguez, who is batting third. Monique Sanchez and freshman Jamie Dowling will pitch. Senior third baseman Blanca Martinez returns and bats cleanup.

* Brea Olinda: 17-9, 9-1 in 1997. Coach: Sharen Caperton (14th year, 190-103). Prospects: The Wildcats are the favorites to win their third consecutive league title. They have seven starters back, including outfielder Geney Orris (.468, seven homers, 30 RBIs), a second-team all-county outfielder. Orris can also pitch; she was 11-6 with a 1.08 ERA last season. Junior Tiffany Whitton, a first baseman, could also see time in the circle. But the strength of Brea is its offense, which batted .334 last season and upset La Habra in the first round of the Division III playoffs, 6-0. Orris and third baseman Susan Shuplock (.506, 17 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, Penn State) are four-year varsity players and Whitton (.413, 14 RBIs) is a three-year player. Orris, with 24 career home runs, is approaching the section record (28) and Caperton is nearing the 200-victory plateau.

* Magnolia: 9-12, 5-5 in 1997. Coach: Debi Burlison (10th year, 109-96). Prospects: Opposing batters this season will get a steady dose of sisters Sara and Jessica Louwsma. Sara is a senior, Jessica is a sophomore, and Burlison thinks they make a good tandem. Last year, Jessica was a second-team all-league performer--one of five that included junior third baseman Candace Garcia, senior shortstop Wendy Hart and senior first baseman Christina Ontiveros. With Lynda Evans at second base and Nicole Resch as catcher, the Sentinels have a solid defense and a potentially strong offense.

* Savanna: 4-19, 2-8 in 1997. Coach: Dan Plamann (third year, 11-33). Prospects: Jamie Racke, a senior first and second baseman, was a first-team all-league pick and leads three starters back this season. Junior third baseman Lori Lambaren was a second-team choice. Sophomore Dallas Lambert returns as catcher. Outfielders Shannon Gamache and Krystal Gonzales also return. Outfielder Deon Ernest, a transfer from Katella, could play a pivotal role if the Rebels are to move up in the standings and challenge for a playoff spot. Plamann is high on his newcomers, especially freshmen Stephanie Quam and Mary Ciminesi.

* Valencia: 13-15, 6-4 in 1997. Coach: John German (first year). Prospects: Four starters return for the Tigers, including all-league first-team first baseman Erica Harding (six homers, 23 RBIs), and second-team catcher Annie Dedic. Senior pitcher Aubrey Zamora and sophomore third baseman Rebecca Robinson also return to the starting lineup. Outfielder Karrie Horwich is the third senior on a team with a balanced mix of juniors, sophomores and freshmen.

* Western: 17-10, 9-1 in 1997. Coach: Ivy Pinkerton (first year). Prospects: Pinkerton, who took over for Carl Whitson (12 years, 140-136), must be hoping that bloodlines hold true in the case of Audra Ratajczak, a sophomore center fielder. She is the sister of last year's league MVP, Adrienne Ratajczak (Pacific), who was a Times' all-county first-team pick. Second-teamer Brandy Moser, a junior, has moved to Indiana. There are four returning starters for the Pioneers, including Anna Zuniga, a senior catcher/pitcher; Jennifer Kline, a senior catcher/left fielder, and Christina Trujillo, a junior first baseman. Kline or sophomore Nicole Reyes (from the JV) must fill the shoes of graduated pitcher Andrea La Pena (17-8).

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