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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
PREVIEW

Premier Teams Hope to Show They're for Real

March 18, 1998|DAVE DESMOND

Here's a look at how teams shape up heading into the high school softball league races:

FOOTHILL LEAGUE

Things don't figure to change here, where Saugus and Hart annually battle for the title. In recent years, that decision has gone to Saugus, which has won 33 consecutive league games. All-Southern Section pitcher Nicole Giordano has graduated, but the Centurions (3-1) have six starters back. Second baseman Amanda Melton, right fielder Julie Watson and catcher Val Reyes will be keys. . . . Hart (5-1) may have the league's top pitcher, sophomore Amanda Fortune (4-0), who was 21-7 last year. Leadoff hitter Courtney Sherlock and sophomore shortstop Jocelyn Evans lead an improved offense . . . . San Jose State-bound right-hander Jennifer Tyler (3-1), who has 31 strikeouts in 28 innings, and sophomore pitcher Malia Sullivan (2-1) give Burroughs (5-2) and first-year Coach Pat Lynch a solid rotation. Identical twins Shaland Romero (.533) and Danette Romero (.333), the Indians' middle infield, are top hitters. . . . Senior shortstop Nicole Giampaolo tops six returning starters at Valencia. Freshman Lauren Watson will be a key at catcher. . . . Former Arizona All-American and Burbank graduate Debby Day has returned to her alma mater to rebuild the program. Burbank, 6-16 last season, is 3-3. Senior shortstop Chantal Pershing and junior second baseman Amanda Ivey will be keys for the Bulldogs. . . . First-year Coach George Bustos has assembled an impressive coaching staff and hopes to rebuild a struggling program at Canyon.

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FORECAST

Foothill

1. Saugus

2. Hart

3. Burroughs

4. Valencia

5. Canyon

6. Burbank

GOLDEN LEAGUE

With junior left-hander Jodie Cox in the circle, Quartz Hill (4-1-1) is favored to win at least a share of its seventh league title in eight seasons. Shortstop Amber Slaton and right fielder Penny Wood were all-league selections last year. Sophomore catcher Olaya Salazar has been a pleasant surprise and leads the team in batting. . . . Highland showed last week it could be a contender, defeating Quartz Hill, 3-1, in the semifinals of the Hart tournament. In that game, backup pitcher Nicole Rawson pitched a three-hitter for the Bulldogs (5-0), who beat Hart in the final. Kelly Presten pitched the first no-hitter in the program's seven-year history earlier in the season. . . . Palmdale (3-0) tied Quartz Hill for the league title last season and should challenge again. Senior outfielder Kristi DiMarco, a two-time Times' All-Valley selection, batted .376 and stole a league-high 32 bases as a junior. Pitcher Mikki Goldwater had a 0.54 ERA last season. . . . When sophomore Candy Johnson pitches, Lancaster can compete with anyone. She shut down league champion Quartz Hill last season. . . . Antelope Valley and Littlerock are rebuilding under first-year coaches. Antelope Valley Coach Kristi Speir and Littlerock Coach Tammi Zammardi were teammates at Humboldt State.

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FORECAST

Golden

1. Quartz Hill

2. Highland

3. Palmdale

4. Lancaster

5. Antelope Valley

6. Littlerock

MISSION LEAGUE

Chaminade hopes to unseat longtime league champion Alemany. The Eagles (1-2-1) have one of the region's best pitchers, junior Maureen LeCocq, a two-time Times' All-Valley selection, and junior catcher Lauren Rousselet. Sophomore shortstop Courtney Whale has been a pleasant surprise. . . . Alemany is 3-3, but one loss was to state powerhouse Righetti and the other two were to Hart. In the three-game stretch, Alemany went 35 consecutive innings without a run. Long Beach State-bound pitcher Kim Diener was 22-4 last season and drove in a league-best 32 runs. . . . Harvard-Westlake's Anna Russell yielded fewer hits than any Mission League pitcher last season. But since then she has been plagued by elbow problems and is 0-1 for the Wolverines (2-1). The sophomore right-hander's recovery will be the key to their season. If Russell is unable to pitch, senior Val Alter will get the call. . . . Louisville is 3-0 despite losing outfielder Becky Witt and six other starters to graduation. Sophomore shortstop Christina Jordt and the all-league battery of pitcher Stefanie Urman and catcher Jemma Santos will be keys to Louisville's playoff hopes. . . . Notre Dame has two good pitchers, junior Patricia Wetzel and freshman Amanda De La Cerda. All-league first baseman Karen Tobin also is a key.

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FORECAST

Mission

1. Chaminade

2. Alemany

3. Notre Dame

4. Harvard-Westlake

5. Louisville

6. Flint. Sac. Heart

PACIFIC LEAGUE

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