New Softball State Top 20

After four years of coaching both girls basketball and softball, Corona Santiago's John Perez (right) is concentrating on guiding one of the state's top softball programs.

After four years of coaching both girls basketball and softball, Corona Santiago’s John Perez (right) is concentrating on guiding one of the state’s top softball programs.

Five newcomers from the preseason rankings, led by Great Oak of Temecula, make their mark as many of the preseason ranked teams have early losses. Mater Dei of Santa Ana holds on to final spot in this week’s list.  

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By Harold Abend
Contributing: Paul Muyskens, Mark Tennis

The top two preseason teams taking losses has forced a team yet to start its season to the top of the heap, but with the kind of firepower it has, Amador Valley of Pleasanton is very deserving of the ranking.

The still pretty young team is led by junior fireballer and slugger Johanna Grauer, the 2012 State Sophomore of the Year who committed to Arizona State as a freshman. Six other starters return, including Northwestern-bound senior outfielder Krista Williams, UC Davis-committed junior shortstop Ashley Lotozynski and junior catcher Victoria Molina, who has an offer from Stanford but may go Ivy League.

“We’re not paying attention to the rankings,” remarked first-year head coach Teresa Borchard when told her team was moving to the top spot. “It’s the rankings at the end of the season that count.”

To stay on top with the kind of schedule they’re playing will be a challenge for the Dons. The improved schedule also is one reason why it was decided to move them up. Without, especially an upcoming trip to Southern California, and the team’s ranking would have been unchanged. Amador opens next week in the Queen of the Mountain tournament in Pleasanton, now being run by former Amador Valley coach and UCLA All-American Julie Marshall, whom Borchard assisted the past six seasons.

Amador Valley also plays in the Michelle Carew Classic (hosted by Canyon of Anaheim) and then the Livermore Stampede. “The girls are honored to be playing at the Carew Classic and excited about the competition,” Borchard said.

“The girls are hungry to get going and prove themselves,” continued Borchard. “They know any given game any team can win so we’re going to come out and play every game like it’s the NCS championship.”

(After games of Wednesday, March 6; preseason ranking in parentheses)

1. (3) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 0-0
Despite the Dons not starting play until they open next Thursday against Concord Clayton Valley at the Queen of the Mountain tournament, the highly-talented Dons assume the catbird seat. Pretty much all the talent from the 26-1 team that lost 1-0 to new No. 3 James Logan in the CIFNCS D1 title game is back.

2. (10) Santiago (Corona) 8-0
It looks like the decision by veteran head coach John Perez to give up coaching the Sharks girls’ basketball team to concentrate on softball has paid off right away, with his girls sporting the best record in the state since play began in late February. After a 10-7 record last year as a junior that saw her lose to highly-ranked teams, San Diego State-bound pitcher Erica Romero has all the wins, a 0.47 ERA, and 67 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched. Offensively, no one of the Sharks has really hit for big numbers, but five different girls have homered, seven girls have three or more RBIs, and seven have four or more hits. Santiago has a Thursday game this week against 3-0 Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) in the title game of the Jarupa Valley tournament.

3. (5) James Logan 1-0
The defending CIFNCS Division I champions opened the season on Tuesday with a 5-2 win over Castro Valley. On Friday night against Pleasanton Foothill, the team will retire the jersey of former Colt, Cal star, USA team member, and Olympic Silver Medalist Vicky Galindo.

4. (7) Woodcreek (Roseville) 2-0
With teams above them losing, and with the Lady Timberwolves meeting those very teams as part of the Michelle Carew Classic field, Coach Art Banks and the girls get rewarded with a three-spot bump after opening a last week with a 6-0 win over crosstown Oakmont, and following that up on Tuesday with a 4-3 victory at Loomis Del Oro. They face Elk Grove Pleasant Grove on Thursday.

5. (1) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 1-1
The preseason top team got off to a precarious start, losing its first game at home in its own Best of the West Invitational 1-0 to Moorpark in the morning game, before bouncing back with a 4-2 win over Valencia West Ranch in the afternoon game. They start play Thursday in the MaxPreps Tournament of Champions at Mohave High in Arizona.

6. (2) Norco 1-1
The preseason No. 2 team opened with a 6-5 win over La Palma Kennedy, then suffered a 2-1 loss to El Modena of Orange. Like Pacifica, the Cougars are headed to the TOC in Mohave.

7. (4) Esperanza (Anaheim) 5-1
The Aztecs opened with four-straight wins last week in the Cypress tournament by a combined score of 17-2, and then lost to the hosts 2-1 in the championship game. They bounced back earlier this week with an 11-4 win over Fullerton Rosary.

8. (12) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 4-0
Questions about the loss of pitcher Vanessa Alvarez after she’s gone off to Cal seem to be answered so far with head coach Brian Yocke using the sophomore duo of Desiree Severance (2-0) and Danielle Bowers (2-0) as replacements. It doesn’t hurt that the girls are hitting .426 as a team with 36 RBIs in the four games that include two wins over Fresno Clovis West.

9. (14) Mission Viejo 3-0
The Diablos not only beat preseason No. 8 Los Alamitos, they trounced them 12-2 in the afternoon game at the Best of the West Invitational. In the morning game they won 5-1 over La Puente Bishop Amat, and on Tuesday they pinned a 12-0 shutout on Laguna Beach. They open at the TOC in Arizona on Thursday with a Santa Ana Foothill team knocking on the door.

10. (NR) Great Oak (Temecula) 6-0
The Wolfpack weren’t even on the pre-season radar screen, but they are now after opening with six straight wins, including two over preseason ranked teams, 5-3 over current No. 12 Edison, and 3-2 over preseason No. 18 Mater Dei of Santa Ana. The other four victories are by a 31-0 combined score. Freshman Autumn Storms, who shares the pitching duties with senior Hannah Dewey, got the win against Edison and is 4-0, while Dewey bested Mater Dei.

11. (11) San Benito (Hollister) 0-0
Open this week on Saturday at the Annie Lynch Memorial Circle of Champions.

12. (6) Edison (Huntington Beach) 1-1  
The Chargers lost their opener to Great Oak, before bouncing back for an 11-0 win over Corona. They have no games this week with their next game at La Palma Kennedy.

13. (17) Chino Hills 4-1
With their lone loss coming in a 5-2 setback to Santiago in the third round of the Corona Tournament, the Huskies move up four spots after closing out the tourney with 6-1 and 8-0 wins over Riverside King and Valencia, respectively.

14. (8) Los Alamitos 1-1
The Griffins have defeated Vista Murrieta and lost to Mission Viejo.

15. (NR) El Modena (Orange) 2-0
Another newcomer that wasn’t on the radar screen in the preseason but is always in the mix in Orange County has opened with a bang, beating preseason No. 16 Saugus 4-0 to open the season. El Modena followed that up with a 2-1 victory over Norco.

16. (9) El Diamante (Visalia) 5-1
The top team from the CIF Central Section was rolling along at 5-0 in the Buchanan Tournament, and was able to win its first two games on Monday without star pitcher Sierra Hyland (injured foot, out one more week), but their luck came to an end after they lost 4-2 to Madera Liberty. El Diamante had the bases loaded but as in many tournaments, despite the game only being in the fifth inning, time expired.

17. (NR) Sheldon (Sacramento) 3-0
Veteran Coach Mary Jo Truesdale has those marbles she gives the girls after each victory rolling again after wins over St. Mary’s of Stockton, Fairfield Rodriguez and Sacramento Christian Brothers. As a result, the Huskies replace Elk Grove as the top team from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. The Huskies play Lodi on Monday before opening in the Queen of the Mountain with Concord.

18. (NR) Cypress 5-0
A third team that wasn’t on the preseason radar screen but busts into the rankings after a 2-1 win over Esperanza in the title game of their own tournament is head coach John Felicetti and his Centurions.

19. (NR) Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 2-0
The Barons were not really expected to be the top team this season in the CIF San Diego Section. However, after finishing No. 2 in the San Diego Union Tribune’s final rankings last year to a Torrey Pines team that dropped out this week together with pre-season No. 20 El Capitan (who they beat 4-1 on Wednesday) makes Coach John Carlson and his girls the new top team and the section’s only representative. Bonita Vista also has a 12-1 win over San Diego Mira Mesa.

20. (18) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 2-1
The Monarchs’ lone loss is 3-2 to fast rising Great Oak. Because of that team starting so impressively, they get to hold onto final spot, however strong consideration was given to a Belmont Carlmont team that has outscored four opponents 29-0 combined or a 3-0 Tustin Foothill team that plays Mission Viejo in Arizona on Thursday.

Dropped Out: Pre-season No. 13 Torrey Pines (San Diego) 1-0-2, No. 15 Elk Grove 1-1, No. 16 Saugus 2-1, No. 19 Lutheran (Orange) 3-2, No. 20 El Capitan (Lakeside) 0-2

On the Bubble: Alhambra (Martinez) 0-0, Cajon (San Bernardino) 3-1, Canyon (Anaheim) 2-0, California (San Ramon) 0-0, Carlmont (Belmont) 4-0, Chino 2-0, Central (Fresno) 4-0, Colton 0-0, Foothill (Santa Ana) 3-0, Heritage (Brentwood) 1-0, Kimball (Tracy) 5-0, Leigh (San Jose) 1-0, Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 3-0, Marina (Huntington Beach) 2-0, Petaluma 0-0, Sierra (Manteca) 3-0, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 1-1, Valencia 3-2   

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