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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL PREVIEW

At A Glance

March 10, 2001

THE PROVEN

* THOUSAND OAKS (25-6-1)--Despite the losses of shortstop Jenny Cochran, who will miss the season because of a shoulder injury, and her replacement, Michelle Spencer, who recently injured a knee and is out indefinitely, the defending Marmonte League champions are loaded. Seven starters return, including Nicole Angelo, an All-Southern Section Division I pitcher who was 25-5 with a 0.29 earned-run average last year. Sheridan Fowler, a four-year starter who batted .393 last season, will move from third to first base.

* CRESCENTA VALLEY (29-2)--Hard-throwing Meredith Cervenka is the only reason the defending Pacific League champion Falcons are ranked. Crescenta Valley lost six starters to graduation from its Division II semifinalist team and Cervenka is left vulnerable with an inexperienced defense and anemic offense behind her. Nonetheless, a soft schedule plus a dominating pitcher equals another 20-victory season.

* HART (23-6)--Ace Amanda Fortune has taken her game to Illinois, but the defending Foothill League champions are not without exceptional pitching. Left-hander Lindsey Kontra and Casey Pickard, both of whom have committed to Division I universities, will keep opponents in the dugout. Senior Sara Dean is among the most talented catchers in the region.

* SIMI VALLEY (18-9)--The Pioneers lost a handful of talent to graduation, but with sophomore Mandy Kilionski returning to the circle, Simi Valley is again a contender. Catcher Jenni Shields, who has committed to Boston University, middle infielder Nicole Brazier and third baseman Christina Haddad will provide capable support.

* EL CAMINO REAL (22-5-1)--Battery mates Melissa Coogan and Christina Enea will continue their dominance in the City Section, where no finer pair can be found. Coogan (20-4) and Enea combined on 91 hits, 47 runs, 12 home runs and 72 runs batted in last season. Seven starters return from a team that suffered a surprising loss to Carson, 1-0, in a City Championship semifinal.

CAMARILLO (23-9)--The Scorpions begin the season without a marquee pitcher for the first time in a decade. But early assessments by opposing coaches are favorable. If Alana Mendoza and Beth Boskovich can ignite a run-producing offense, Camarillo should not play the role of the underdog too often.

AGOURA (9-13)--Few are as excited about the season as second-year Coach Brandy Brennan. And for good reason. The Chargers are young, talented and fired up. Six of the seven returning starters are sophomores, including ace Lyndsay Tsumpes, who allowed only one hit in 18 innings against Valencia and Highland last weekend.

WESTLAKE (16-12)--Early victories over Quartz Hill and Canyon have given the chronically inconsistent Warriors an impressive start under first-year Coach Garry Fetman. Six starters return, including second baseman Katie Kearns, who has committed to Cal State Northridge. But without ace Erin Voeltz, a four-year fixture for the Warriors who has moved on to Georgia Tech, Westlake will have its hands full in the pitching-rich Marmonte League.

RIO MESA (15-10-1)--The Spartans lost only one starter from a team that started strong but faded toward the end because of injuries and academic problems. Junior pitcher Chanel Tripp, who broke a finger late last season, is healthy. Division I prospect Chrissy Hildebrandt, who batted .371 with 17 RBIs last year, will split time between catcher and third base.

CHAMINADE (18-13)--First-year Coach Jessica Creith inherited one of the toughest schedules in the region but said she welcomes the challenge. The Eagles return five starters from a Division IV finalist team, including ace Christina Lupacchini and first baseman Lindsey Weinstein, who is headed to Kansas.

THE PROMISING

* HIGHLAND (19-8)--Six starters return from the defending Golden League champions, including four-year battery mates Nichole Rawson and Ashlie D'Errico. The Bulldogs, who have a reputation as a hard-hitting team, went without a hit for 11 innings against Agoura sophomore Lyndsay Tsumpes last weekend.

* HUENEME (18-8)--Considering the Vikings improve each season under third-year Coach Nichole Victoria, Hueneme is poised to challenge Camarillo and Rio Mesa for the Pacific View title. Five starters return, including senior slugger Erica Mijares, who batted .494 with 42 hits and 26 RBIs last season.

* KENNEDY (21-4)--With eight starters returning from a team that lost by a run in the semifinals of the City Championship to eventual champion San Pedro, the Golden Cougars are solid contenders. Junior outfielder Kristin Cookson batted .405 and scored 26 runs last season for the defending Valley Mission League champs.

* VALENCIA (19-10)--Six starters return from a very young team which upset Simi Valley, 3-2, in a 17-inning, first-round game of the Division II playoffs last year. The Vikings will start five sophomores and a freshman. Senior catcher Lauren Watson, who batted .424 with 15 RBIs last season, is headed to Brigham Young on scholarship.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Preseason rankings of regional high schools:

*--*

Rk Team (League) '00 Rec. 1 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 25-6-1 2 Crescenta Valley (Pacific) 29-2 3 Hart (Foothill) 23-6 4 Simi Valley (Marmonte) 18-9 5 El Camino Real (West Valley) 22-5-1 6 Camarillo (Pacific View) 23-9 7 Agoura (Marmonte) 9-13 8 Westlake (Marmonte) 16-12 9 Rio Mesa (Pacific View) 15-10-1 10 Chaminade (Mission) 18-13

*--*

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