What to do with Carew tournament finalists Pacifica and Yorba Linda? We finally make the move of the duo to No. 9 and No. 10. Also going in as newcomers this week are Lakewood and Soquel.
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Without giving you anywhere near all the pearls of wisdom he imparted in an hour-long phone conversation, we’re using the input of Michelle Carew Classic Tournament Director and retired longtime Canyon of Anaheim coach Lance Eddy to help us sort things out for this week’s rankings after the apple cart was not only upset, it was turned upside down by a pair of teams Eddy saw in Anaheim this past weekend.
In a new twist, we used coach’s comments and evaluations as part of our selection process for Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, so why not try it for softball for one week using a recognized expert that just saw some of the best teams in the state?
We also solicited the input of noted Southern California softball analyst, ESPN contributor, and travel ball coach Bret Denio since he was at both the Carew Classic and the Woodbridge Tournament this past week.
It should shock no one that preseason No.1 Pacifica of Garden Grove is back in the mix after winning the Carew Classic.
After starting off the season a bit shaky with a season-opening loss in its own Best of the West tournament, the Mariners lost to Mater Dei in Arizona, and then their hitting shoes fell off in three more losses.
Since a 2-0 loss to Aliso Niguel of Aliso Viejo, the Mariners have won seven straight, including the five games in the Carew Classic where they avenged the loss to Aliso Niguel and outscored opponents 20-5 combined.
Florida-committed junior Nicole DeWitt was the star of the tournament and was named MVP after going 10-for-17 with four runs, two RBIs, two doubles and a home run. In the championship game 4-0 victory over Yorba Linda, she went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
As for Yorba Linda, the girls from just up the street from where the tournament was held are only in their third season of varsity softball, and although they came into the Carew Classic outscoring opponents 101-0, it wasn’t against the most stellar group of opponents in the Southland.
Coach Sharon Farrell’s squad certainly turned some heads when San Diego-committed junior pitcher Paige Von Sprecken turned in a dazzling performance to lead her team to a 3-1 victory over previous state and national No. 1 Amador Valley in the tournament opener.
The Mustang girls weren’t through bucking. Before finally falling to Pacifica, they beat Cienega (Vail, Ariz.) 6-1, took out previous No. 7 and current No. 11 Esperanza, 5-3, and won 2-1 over a very solid Los Alamitos.
“Von Sprecken pitches every inning for them so by the time it got to Pacifica she was a bit tired, but Yorba Linda is a very good team,” Denio told Cal-Hi Sports.
Still, with their showing, the young Yorba Linda girls have exploded onto the scene and crack the top 10 by grabbing the No. 9 spot in this week’s rankings.
Here are this week’s rankings (after games of Monday, April 8; previous ranking in parentheses; results from Tuesday of this week not included):
1. (2) Mission Viejo 17-1
With Amador Valley losing, and despite having no games last week, the Diablos ascend to the catbird seat based on their overall resume and the fact they were sitting in the second spot. They have a loss to Norco, but they dealt Great Oak its only loss and they have wins over ranked teams Saugus and Bishop Amat and solid Bubble team Los Alamitos. Although it’s not reported to date on Mission Viejo’s page on OCVarsity.com, Bret Denio confirmed that Arizona-committed sophomore Alyssa Palomino has 13 home runs, a number that would be the reported state leader. “She can flat out hit,” Denio remarked. Oregon State-commit, junior Alysha Everett, already has three home runs in six games since returning from a broken finger. Oklahoma State-committed sophomore left-hander Taylor McQuillin is the girl in the circle. According to Denio, she has good movement, tops out at 63-64 miles per hour and has an excellent variety of pitches.
2. (4) Great Oak (Temecula) 9-1
The long wait is almost over. After not playing since the March 16 loss to Mission Viejo, the girls get into action on Wednesday in a home and home series with a Murrieta Valley bunch that Lance Eddy says is an upstart team that may give Great Oak some problems. With a resume that includes solid wins and a lone loss to Mission Viejo, the Wolfpack get a two-spot bump this week.
3. (3) James Logan (Union City) 7-0
Coach Teri Johnson’s team will have a questionable resume all season, but it’s a group that has only lost one game in the last two years and that was to Amador Valley early last season, a loss that was avenged in the NCS D1 title game. As a result, the Colts don’t get to move up, but they can move back in front of Amador Valley, just like they finished at the end of last season.
4. (1) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 11-1
The Dons took a loss, which isn’t the end of the world but their lack of hitting was noted by Eddy who still gives them high marks with lots of praise for junior sensation Johanna Grauer. “Not only does she throw hard, she’s very multi-dimensional.” Denio was also impressed with the young Dons. “They’re a very good team and they came back real well.” Its unfortunate, but as long as the CIF North Coast Section continues to limit softball teams to 24 games out of what they believe is the best interests of the student athletes, its teams will be at a distinct disadvantage hitting-wise in tournaments where NCS teams have seven games played and some other teams have as many as 15 games completed. “As a parent, I understand but as a coach it makes it very tough,” Dons’ head coach Teresa Borchard remarked.
5. (6) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 16-0
The Monarchs were the favorites to win the Livermore Stampede with Amador Valley down south, and they did just that with the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan in attendance. They lost to Amador Valley last year in the Livermore Stampede and that team has the same girls while Mitty has almost the same bunch but not quite. Coach Brian Yocke and the girls get to come up a spot this week but can’t pass Amador Valley.
6. (10) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 15-3
The second set of Monarchs beat Garden Grove 15-1 and Irvine Northwood 9-2 on Saturday at the Woodbridge tournament and Millikan of Long Beach 6-2 on Monday. Right here is where we will beg to differ with the very reputable rankings of OCVarsity.com softball writer Carlos Arias. He has Pacifica ahead of Mater Dei in the Orange County pecking order. He also has Yorba Linda ahead of Mater Dei. We just have Mater Dei higher than both because of a head-to-head win over Pacifica. Having a win over Norco is pretty good, too.
7. (8) Santiago (Corona) 14-2
With Norco taking two losses at Carew, some of the luster came off of Tuesday’s matchup, but it was still a huge game for both teams. The result of it won’t be reflected until next week’s rankings. Santiago was playing its first game since March 27.
8. (NR) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 15-5
This is where the Mariners climb after their strong showing at the Michelle Carew Classic. Yes, they won the top tournament in California, but five losses on the slate don’t get erased, either. Eddy says part of the reason for the losses is the team had some problems early on, but five losses is something that can’t be overlooked all at once.
9. (NR) Yorba Linda 14-1
Coach Sharon Farrell’s team came into Carew outscoring opponents 101-0 and after a second place finish that margin is now 117-10. Yorba Linda can’t relax, either, despite that finish. The team will get tested in league this week by bubble team Cypress and a La Palma Kennedy group that has a win over Pacifica.
10. (9) Vintage (Napa) 17-0
It’s tough when you beat your arch-rival Napa for the first time in seven years and have to drop a spot, but that’s what has happened to the Crushers. It’s just there’s no way Pacifica or Yorba Linda can go behind Vintage. Still, the Crushers from the Wine Country are a top 10 team. When the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan talked with 2006 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year and current Freedom (Oakley) assistant coach Amanda Williams at the Livermore Stampede, it was discovered Vintage sophomore pitcher Emily Oestreich had some lessons with Williams. Against Napa, she did give up a home run in a 6-2 victory, but she pitched a six-hitter and had 12 strikeouts.
11. (7) Esperanza (Anaheim) 17-2
The Aztecs had a nice finish at the Michelle Carew Classic after only one loss to Yorba Linda, and they get high marks from Eddy who actually likes them better than Santiago. Still, they have to drop in behind Pacifica and Yorba Linda and we can’t punish Vintage any more than one spot. “Very solid team and pitcher (Hayley) Copeland is amazing,” Eddy remarked. Copeland, a South Carolina-committed junior, tossed a perfect game with 13 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Murrieta Valley in the fifth-place game.
12. (5) Norco 16-4
After the Cougars lost 3-1 to El Toro of Lake Forest at the Carew, Eddy said head coach Rick Robinson used his second pitcher and some other non-starters and they lost again 8-7 to Cienega after a 9-2 win over previous No. 20 Woodcreek. They can gain back some ground if they defeated Santiago on Tuesday.
13. (13) El Diamante (Visalia) 19-1-1
It’s been a scoring bonanza for the Miners in recent weeks. They plated 29 runs in their two wins last week over Hanford and Redwood of Visalia. And in their last seven wins, they have scored a total of 88 runs. Leading the barrage has been sophomore Rylee Pierce, who on the season leads the team with 40 runs batted in. Sierra Hyland also is now up to 15-0 in the circle while she also has driven in 25 runs.
14. (14) Bishop Amat (La Puente) 11-2
Coach Jesse Mendez’s Lancers had last week off from games, which was the main reason why they stayed the same in this week’s rankings. Since starting 0-2, Amat has won 11 in a row and will take that win streak into Thursday’s game against Bishop Montgomery of Torrance.
15. (15) Chino 13-2
Likely anxious to get back to a week with more than one game, the Cowgirls had last week off after playing just one game the week before. Looking to remain undefeated in Mt. Baldy League, Chino plays Colony of Ontario and Montclair this week.
16. (17) Rocklin 13-1
Having the week off two weeks ago, the Thunder were able to get back on the field to pick up a 5-3 win over Granite Bay last week but their game against Nevada Union was rained out twice, according to coach Marissa Hardy. Hoping to reschedule that game sometime in the next two weeks, Rocklin faces Del Oro of Loomis and Roseville this week.
17. (18) Saugus 11-4
It has been a season of streaks for the Centurions and they are enjoying one right now with a seven-game win streak heading into this week. Two wins last week came by 11-0 and 9-0 scores against Alemany of Mission Hills. The team plays Valencia and Hart of Newhall this week in a pair of Foothill League games.
18. (NR) Lakewood 14-5
This is a team that Lance Eddy really likes and the result is they get to come in as the third newcomer after a 2-1 eight-inning loss to Amador Valley in the consolation championship of the Carew Classic.
19. (NR) Soquel 15-1
The fourth newcomer this week is the No. 2 team behind Mitty from the CIF Central Coast Section after wins last week over Atascadero and Pacific Grove in the Salinas tournament. Soquel’s lone loss is to bubble team Notre Dame of Salinas and they avenged that in the Circle of Champions title game. They also own a win over another bubble team, perennially tough Carlmont. Junior Anna Gurr had been doing most of the pitching according to fifth-year head coach Shawn Gallardo, but a calf injury has meant another junior, Makenna Provancha, has been seeing more duty.
20. (11) Marina (Huntington Beach) 13-2
The Vikings were all set to move up this week, and everyone in the Southland figured they would be playing Mater Dei for the Woodbridge title. After winning two games on Saturday at the Woodbridge, however, the Monday bug bit Marina and the team lost 4-0 to El Modena of Orange.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 12 California (San Ramon), No. 16 Canyon (Anaheim), No. 19 Vista Murrieta (Murrieta), No. 20 Woodcreek (Roseville) 9-6.
Teams on the Bubble:
Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo) 16-6; Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 10-4-1; California (San Ramon) 8-3; Canyon (Anaheim) 11-7; Carlmont (Belmont) 15-2; Carondelet (Concord) 10-2; Chino Hills 12-6; Cypress 14-2-1; El Modena (Orange) 11-7; Elk Grove 11-5; Foothill (Santa Ana) 11-7; Gilroy 10-4; Golden West (Visalia) 15-3; Kennedy (La Palma) 8-6; Leland (San Jose) 15-1; Livermore 8-4; Los Alamitos 12-7; Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 12-2; Lutheran (Orange) 16-4; Notre Dame (Salinas) 10-5; Moorpark 13-3; Poly (Riverside) 16-6; Petaluma 10-1; Pinole Valley (Pinole) 9-3; Pleasant Valley (Chico) 15-1; Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 15-4; Roosevelt (Eastvale) 10-3; Rosary (Fullerton) 12-5; San Benito (Hollister) 12-2; Sierra (Manteca) 14-1; Tracy 13-3; Torrey Pines (San Diego) 10-6-2; Valencia 10-7; Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 9-6; Wheatland 13-1-1; Whitney (Rocklin) 11-5; Woodcreek (Roseville) 9-6.
Mark Tennis and Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend