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SOFTBALL

Aliso Niguel Puts Injuries to Rest as Softball Season Begins

March 06, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON

Aliso Niguel is injury-free this season--so far. That wasn't the case last year.

Center fielder Shannon Anderson, who batted .356, missed five weeks with broken ribs. Right fielder Lindsay Schafer had mononucleosis for four weeks and watched her batting average plummet from .478 to .361. Even Chezare Sievers, the Wolverines' all-county second baseman, missed three games with a pulled muscle.

The Wolverines are No. 2 in The Times' Orange County preseason ranking.

"I think we're very good. I really do," Coach Joe Miller said. "It took us a little while to get going last year because we were without some players, and most of our losses were early in the season in close games. But [the injuries] definitely played a role."

Miller predicts Anderson will have a terrific season.

"Shannon came back for the last league game, against Woodbridge, and she had the winning RBI to sew up the league title," he said. "Defensively and offensively she's as good as anybody anywhere. She's got a great arm, runs really well--she's an outstanding player."

Anderson has already signed with Auburn, and left fielder Kalena Peterson has signed with Providence. Third baseman Jessica Vernagilia will attend California.

Anderson and Peterson may give Aliso Niguel a strong outfield, but few outfields are better than that of top-ranked Foothill. If Erin Mobley leaves second base, which she moved to last season, the Knights will have three National Fastpitch Coaches Assn. All-Americans in the outfield, Mobley, Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion.

The Aces in the Outfield debate could be decided Saturday, when Aliso Niguel plays at Foothill in a doubleheader that begins at noon.

ON THE RISE

Troy coach Marlon Buttram has high expectations for his pitcher, Emily Hively. Buttram thinks Hively can be as good--or better--than all-county pitcher Lindsey Knoff, who is at Long Beach State.

The Warriors have a chance to be one of the surprise teams in the county, especially if Hively blossoms. Troy was 21-8 last season and beat Aliso Niguel in the playoffs.

Hively gave up only four hits in 12 innings in victories over Santiago and Edison on Saturday, and led off the first game with a home run. Troy plays Freeway League-rival Sonora in the semifinals of the Fullerton tournament today at Lions Field in a matchup against pitcher Carrie Wisen. The title game is at 7 p.m.

QUICK STRIKE

Corona del Mar won its first two games of the season Saturday. The program, in its second season after a two-year hiatus, has made significant strides.

"I had high hopes of being in the top three [in the Pacific Coast League] last year, but didn't have the talent to do it all," Coach Terry Cristiano said. "We were short-handed. I took everybody I could take, and had maybe seven ballplayers. You put one good season behind you, and the girls came out of the woodwork. I have five seniors this year, three are starters, compared to last year--I had no seniors on the team."

Shortsop/pitcher Mijanou Pham is a returning senior starter, and two of the seniors who came out of the woodwork, utility player Ashley Brown and third baseman Taylor McCormick, are also starting.

And in a reversal of fortune, Corona del Mar won its second game Saturday by overcoming a two-run deficit to beat Santa Ana, 6-4. A year ago, after winning its opener, Corona del Mar lost its second game after taking an 8-0 lead. "It's a more improved, more refined team already," Cristiano said. "I'd like to finish in the top two, and go to the playoffs. We were in fourth place last year. That would be a big deal to us."

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If you have an item or idea for the softball report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at martin.henderson@latimes.com

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