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PREP EXTRA

Spring Break Menu

Top Competitions Involving Some of Nation's Best Teams Provide a Holiday Banquet for the Sports-Hungry Fan

April 01, 1999|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Most Southland high schools are on spring break this week or next, but the prep sports schedule still features some of the best competition of the year.

Several premier baseball, softball and track and field events--and a basketball tournament for underclassmen--will be played the next 10 days.

The following is a fan's guide of where to be and what to see:

BASEBALL

National Classic tournament, April 5-7 at Cal State Fullerton, Placentia El Dorado and Anaheim Esperanza high schools, and Amerige Park in Fullerton.

A few years before Alex Rodriguez became a superstar shortstop for the Seattle Mariners, he traveled to Orange County with his Florida high school team and played in a tournament that is annually one of the best in the nation.

This year's 16-team tournament includes six teams from California, five from Florida and one each from Arizona, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

The California teams are highly regarded Rancho Bernardo, Palm Desert, Anaheim Esperanza, Placentia El Dorado, Santa Ana Mater Dei and Anaheim Servite.

Mater Dei is attempting to send Coach Bob Ickes out a winner. Ickes is in his 25th and final season with the Monarchs.

Palm Desert is in the tournament for the first time after applying for entry the last several years. The Aztecs were 23-4 last season.

"We've been very successful down here in our area, but sometimes I don't think we play with the confidence we need when we play the schools in Orange County and the L.A. area," Palm Desert Coach Darol Salazar said. "Playing in this tournament is going to help with that confidence. We're going to be playing with some of the top teams in the nation."

Among the prospects who will be competing is pitcher Brett Myers of Englewood (Fla.) High. Myers, 6 feet 4, 210 pounds, had 104 strikeouts in 66 innings last season.

Big West Invitational tournament, Friday-April 7 at Ryan Lemmon Stadium at Windrow Park, Irvine.

Long Beach Millikan is the defending champion of this 16-team tournament that also features Long Beach Wilson, 13 Orange County schools--including defending Southern Section Division IV champion Huntington Beach Ocean View--and San Francisco Riordan.

Millikan pitcher Andy Tisdale was the most valuable player in last year's tournament and he is back on the mound for the Rams.

Huntington Beach Marina won the tournament in 1994, '95 and '97. El Toro won in 1996.

RBI/Chet Brewer tournament, semifinals and final Saturday at USC. Championship game at 3 p.m.

Fifteen City Section schools and Bell Gardens of the Southern Section began pool play last weekend and have been competing in games at Pepperdine, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Los Angeles and East Los Angeles College.

Bell Gardens will play Gardena in one semifinal at 10 a.m. and Venice will play Huntington Park in the other at 1 p.m.

The fifth annual tournament is designed to give inner-city athletes the opportunity to compete at some of the finest facilities in the nation.

SOFTBALL

Best of the West tournament, Monday-Wednesday at Hagerman Softball Complex, Santa Maria.

This tournament expanded from 21 to 28 teams this year and is annually regarded as the best regular-season softball event in the state.

Teams from almost every one of the CIF's 10 sections will be represented, including a Southern Section contingent that features defending tournament champion Simi Valley, Santa Ana Foothill and host Santa Maria Righetti.

Teams are guaranteed five games. Competition begins each day at 8 a.m. and concludes with an 8 p.m. game.

How good is the competition?

Last year, Foothill arrived as the No. 1 team in the nation and lost twice.

"The tournament is centrally located, so you have teams from the Southern Section coming up to play teams they don't normally see and teams from the North and other areas that want to test themselves against the best competition," said Righetti Coach Richard Cornejo, who is in his 20th season at the school.

TRACK AND FIELD

Arcadia Invitational, April 10 at Arcadia High, 4 p.m.; running events begin at 6:15.

This is the 32nd running of what is regarded as one of, if not the best, invitationals in the country. Last year, six nation-leading marks were set.

Sprinters Darrell Rideaux and Kareem Kelly of Long Beach Poly and hurdler Marcell Allmond of Santa Fe Springs St. Paul--all defending state champions--are among the top boys who will compete.

Top girls from California include: Nakiya Johnson of Chino Hills Ayala, who last summer ran 52.09 in the 400 meters--the 10th-best prep time in U.S. history; Sara Bei of Santa Rosa Montgomery, the defending state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200; and hurdler Nicole Denby of Riverside North, who this winter equaled the national prep indoor record for the 60-meter hurdles at 8.33; and Lauren Fleshman of Canyon Country Canyon, the runner-up at the Foot Locker national cross-country championships.

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