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Contenders Prepare for High-Stakes Stretch Run

May 05, 2000|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

These should be an action-packed few days for junior college teams in the region.

Four softball teams are in the Southern California regional Saturday and Sunday, the Western State Conference Southern Division baseball race is coming to the wire and College of the Canyons is vying for the state men's golf championship.

The softball regional is set for four sites, each with four teams in a double-elimination format.

Canyons (37-5), seeded No. 5, and No. 12 Moorpark (22-14) meet in a matchup of WSC members Saturday at 2 p.m. at Cypress College. The Cougars defeated Moorpark, 2-1, in March.

The Cougars set a school record for victories in a season and won the WSC Southern Division title with a 21-0 record. But they failed to impress the seeding committee, which handed one of the host sites to three-time defending state champion Cypress (29-13-2).

"I feel our team was not given the respect and credit it deserved," Canyons Coach Ray Whitten said. "Cypress did not win [its] conference [Orange Empire] and I feel the committee voted on past records.

"But other than being highly irritated, I feel OK."

Antelope Valley (32-9), seeded No. 6, faces No. 11 El Camino (24-14) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Palomar College.

The Marauders are making their 11th playoff appearance. They are 6-1 this season against teams in the bracket, including 4-0 against El Camino. No. 3-seeded Palomar (40-6) defeated the Marauders, 7-1, in a tournament in March.

Ventura (25-16), seeded No. 8, plays No. 9 Southwestern (25-10) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Long Beach City College.

The four bracket winners advance to the state championships May 12-14 at Fresno.

In baseball, Canyons and Pierce are battling for the WSC Southern Division title entering regular-season finales Saturday.

Canyons (22-17, 17-9 in WSC action) hosts Citrus and Pierce (23-12, 18-8) hosts Valley. If the teams finish tied, Pierce holds the tiebreaker for seeding purposes in the Southern California regional because it swept the Cougars in three games this season.

The Canyons golfers also are hoping to make headlines. The Cougars are among the favorites at the state championships on Monday at Glendora Country Club.

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Whitten is always on the lookout for a potential recruit, even through the message on the phone answering machine at his office:

"If you bat .650 and run the bases like a rabbit, please leave your name and phone number. . . ."

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With about six weeks to go before the job posting closes, several coaches from the region are interested in the vacant men's basketball position at Canyons.

They include Greg Herrick, the women's basketball coach at the school; men's assistant Howard Fisher; Dean Bradshaw, former coach at Simi Valley High, and Bob Hawking, former coach at Simi Valley and Cal State Fullerton.

Len Mohney, athletic director at Canyons, wouldn't say who has applied.

"I've had calls from all over the nation," Mohney said. "It's a great job."

The new coach will replace Lee Smelser, who retired after 31 seasons with the Cougars.

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Baseball Coach Don Adams of Ventura College won't be sorry to see the Western State Conference season end Saturday.

Ventura is averaging nearly seven runs but giving up 10.6 in WSC play. The staff has an 8.89 earned-run average.

"I told someone I can't remember when I had to use [a scorebook] extension like this year," Adams said. "We've had to do it 10 times. Teams have batted around on us in an inning 10 times."

The Pirates have allowed 10 runs or more 15 times and are setting some dubious team records, including most runs (308) and hits (416) allowed.

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Does this feel like football weather to anyone?

It does to Coach David Banuelos of Pierce, who is staging a clinic for coaches on May 19-20 at the Holiday Inn in Woodland Hills.

Banuelos said those scheduled to speak include Coach Pete Shinnick of Azusa Pacific, Coach Scott Squires of Cal Lutheran, defensive coordinator Foster Andersen of Cal State Northridge, Coach George Hurley of Newbury Park and assistant Fred Grimes of Kennedy.

Cost for the two days is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Information: Banuelos at (818) 719-6415.

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