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SOFTBALL

Pacifica Benched for Tournament

March 20, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON

After four years of attending the highly regarded Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz., Pacifica sat it out this season.

Not by choice.

The Garden Grove Unified School District has limited athletic teams from traveling further than 50 miles.

"The major reason, they're telling us, is liability," Coach Rob Weil said. "The second is the low [Stanford 9] scores. These are the major reasons. And missing 1 1/2 days of school, too."

Al Sims, administrative assistant for evaluation and research in the school district, said that "the high school scores have been pretty flat over the last three years."

Pacifica's dominance in Southern Section play--the Mariners have reached the section finals the last four years and won three in a row before losing last season--coincided with its attendance at the TOC, which brings together some of the nation's top programs.

Prior to 1997, the first year of the tournament, Pacifica had never reached a section final.

According to Weil, the grade-point average of the Pacifica varsity is 3.47--four-hundredths less than an A average.

"It was a great tournament for us because of team camaraderie, it got us prepared and ready for league and the [section] playoffs," Weil said. "I respect their decision. In our case, I think it would continue to benefit our program if we were able to go to this tournament. . . . But I'm just a softball coach, and I'm spoiled."

Several county teams attended the tournament. Canyon, which had been unranked in Orange County, established itself as one of the county's top teams by reaching the semifinal against top-ranked Foothill. Canyon is ranked No. 2 this week, catapulting over fourth-ranked Pacifica, which has played only one game this season.

"Like I told my principal, we were in the top 25 in the nation in the [National Fastpitch Coaches Assn.] poll the last two years, and that's something our kids take pride in," Weil said. "They push each other, tutor each other. [Assistant coach] Janet Fettig is a teacher. It's not just about athletics, it's also about academics, and I think the players should be rewarded for that if [the district is] striving for those high goals."

Junior Mallorie Lenn would like to be rewarded.

"It was good because we got to know each other. . . . and get a feel for how the season was going to be," Lenn said. "We improved a lot as a team, and also improved mentally because we know what we'll have to face going into the season."

LOOKING AHEAD

Today, Laguna Hills will play its first games at its new field, located adjacent to the school, in a doubleheader against Trabuco Hills. Kennedy plays host to Rosary at Cypress Arnold Park in a battle between top-five teams. Rosary also plays at No. 1 Foothill on Thursday.

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

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

SOFTBALL TOP 10

Times' Orange County Rankings

*--*

Pos. School League Rec 1. Foothill Century 9-1 2. Canyon Century 9-3 3. Kennedy Empire 4-2 4. Pacifica Garden Grove 0-1 5. Rosary Serra 5-2 6. Mater Dei Serra 7-4 7. Marina Sunset 6-1 8. Esperanza Sunset 6-1 9. Dana Hills South Coast 5-2 10. Los Alamitos Sunset 2-5

*--*

Others: Capistrano Valley, Loara, Santa Margarita

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