New Softball State Top 20

Junior Paige Von Sprecken has been wrecking the batting averages of opposing players as the pitcher for the Yorba Linda softball team. The Mustangs are still No. 5 in this week's rankings. Photo courtesy Yorba Linda High School.

Junior Paige Von Sprecken has been wrecking the batting averages of opposing players as the pitcher for the Yorba Linda softball team. The Mustangs are still No. 5 in this week’s rankings. Photo courtesy Yorba Linda High School.

California of San Ramon surges up to No. 17 as state’s lone newcomer this week. Unbeaten Archbishop Mitty also gets a bump into the top five. The rest of the top group, however, is dominated by Orange County.

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Five of the first six ranked squads in this week’s Cal-Hi Sports top 20 for softball continue to hail from a place that 100 years ago was mostly populated with orange groves.

This week’s featured team, Yorba Linda, gets some love despite losing another heartbreaker to league rival Pacifica, 1-0. The team’s only other loss this season was to Pacifica in the title game of the Michelle Carew Classic. Meanwhile, Yorba Linda owns wins over ranked Amador Valley and Esperanza, and bubble team Los Alamitos.

“We’re trying to beat Pacifica,” said Yorba Linda three-year varsity head coach Sharon Farrell, who started the program four years ago when the school opened.

The Mustangs lost two games last year to their Empire League rival, but one of them was another nail-biter.

“We lost to them 1-0 in 10 innings last year,’ sighed Farrell, who played at Brea Olinda and then Chapman College, and got into coaching when her daughter played travel ball.

The 1-0 loss last week came about after a top of the sixth single was misplayed into a three-base advance that according to Farrell scored on a “dinker” hit to produce the game’s only run.

The Mustangs then loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the sixth but could not score.

Despite only being in its third year of varsity competition, Yorba Linda is a veteran team.

“It’s a really close knit team this year. Everyone has everybody’s back,” Farrell remarked. “We have six seniors that started as freshmen and have played together since the school opened. They know what they’re capable of doing.”

University of San Diego-committed junior right-handed pitcher Paige Von Sprecken didn’t give up a run until the first game of the Carew Classic against Amador Valley. She has a 0.64 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched.

Five of the six seniors are committed to play in college. Taylor Townsend is Connecticut-bound, Cindy Okamoto is going to Harvard, Amanda Dirks is a Loyola Marymount-commit, Dana Hendry is going to Rutgers, Holly Fauria is Cal State San Marcos-bound and Dani Fernandez is undecided.

Von Sprecken, Dirks, Fernandez, Townsend and her sophomore sister, Jordan Townsend, are all hitting over .400 this season.

Mitty moves to NorCal top spot

Although Archbishop Mitty hasn’t faced teams from Southern California, and sophomore pitcher Desiree Severance isn’t as dominating in her first year in the varsity circle as the last two Monarchs’ pitchers before her (Keilani Ricketts and Vanessa Alvarez), they do have one of the top juniors in the nation at shortstop, Cal-committed Jazmyn Jackson, and it’s hard to argue with a 21-0 record that includes a win at the Livermore Stampede over the new No. 17 California of San Ramon team that knocked off Amador Valley last week.

As a result, head coach Brian Yocke has his girls in a familiar spot, and that’s on top of the NorCal rankings.

It is, however, the first time in Yocke’s three years at Mitty’s helm that the team has gone this deep into the season undefeated.

“The biggest key so far is everyone is contributing offensively, top, middle and bottom of the order, we’re taking it one day at a time, and the girls are focused on the ‘process’ that I’m big on,” Yocke told Cal-Hi Sports.

Besides Jackson, three seniors are college-committed. Cat Calloway is going to Harvard, Kiersten Nordin is Cal Poly-committed and Ashley Chestnut is going to UC San Diego.

Here are this week’s rankings (after games of Saturday, April 20; previous ranking in parentheses; does not include any games from Monday or Tuesday of this week):

1. (1) Mission Viejo 21-1
The pitching took care of business in two shutouts last week, 5-0 over visiting Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita, and 3-0 against visiting San Clemente. Sophomore pitcher Taylor McQuillin got both wins to up her record to the same as the team. She gave up four hits with 11 strikeouts against Tesoro and two hits with seven fanned versus San Clemente. Many statewide softball experts feel there may not be anyone to challenge the Diablos in South Coast League play, or even in the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs.

2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 19-3
The girls had two games last week that show that the Monarchs’ grip on the Trinity League might not be a vise-grip after a 15-9 slugfest victory over previous No. 18 Orange Lutheran and a 2-1 squeaker over Fullerton Rosary. Games this week are against JSerra Catholic and Santa Margarita.

3. (4) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 18-5
From unranked to No. 8, No. 4 and now No. 3 in the past three weeks is what the preseason No. 1 ranked Mariners have done. Last week’s big win, of course, was 1-0 over No. 5 Yorba Linda. If this team were to run the table from here on out and win the CIFSS Division I playoffs, there are those who might say combined with winning the Michelle Carew Classic that head coach Mark Campbell and his girls belong back in the top spot regardless of what Mission Viejo does.

4. (7) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 21-0
The Monarchs had some trouble with WCAL rival Valley Christian in an 8-7 victory, and respectable Santa Clara Wilcox was game in a 5-3 non-league win, but the week ended in a league blowout of Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco. On Wednesday, they travel cross-town to Presentation.

5. (5) Yorba Linda 17-2
The young Mustangs lost a heartbreaker, held their spot, and stayed in front of Amador Valley from Northern California this week. They could not, however, stay in front of undefeated Mitty.

6. (8) Esperanza (Anaheim) 20-2
Two wins last week with lone losses to Cypress and Yorba Linda gets the Aztecs a two-spot bump in this week’s rankings. The way head coach Ed Tunstall has the Aztec girls playing, winning five-straight since a 5-3 loss to Yorba Linda in the Carew Classic, may make them a noisemaker in the CIFSS D1 playoffs.

7. (9) Great Oak (Temecula) 11-3
The girls got back two of the seven spots they dropped last week and move back into the top spot in the Inland Empire. This is because they swept a pair over previously ranked Vista Murrieta of Murrieta and other ranked teams that lost. Next up is Temecula Chaparral on Wednesday.

8. (6) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 14-2
Offense has been the Achilles heel of the young Dons and it showed in a 1-0 loss to new No. 17 California of San Ramon. After giving up a run in the first inning, Johanna Grauer went on to throw a three-hitter with nine strikeouts, but the Dons were only able to scatter five singles and couldn’t score.

9. (3) Santiago (Corona) 20-4
The Sharks lost both games to Corona and Riverside King prior to the second weekend of the Spring Fling where they walloped previously-ranked Saugus and then beat a Valencia West Ranch team that has some upset wins. Let’s face it, there are going to be teams beating each other all season in the Inland Empire.

10. (10) Vintage (Napa) 22-0
The ranked team that continues to have the best record in the state had two more wins last week in Monticello Empire League action. Despite the record, the Crushers still can’t go in front of teams with schedules that will see them take some losses. The result is they hold fast at their present spot and fall in between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from the Inland Empire.

11. (12) Norco 19-5
Coach Rick Robinson’s club gets to move back up to 11th and just two spots behind Corona Santiago mostly due to a 12-3 win last week over Corona. Two days earlier, Corona and legendary coach Jo Ann Byrd beat Santiago. Norco also gets to play Santiago again on Thursday of this week.

12. (11) James Logan (Union City) 14-1
The Colts posted two league wins last week but have nowhere to move up, and in fact they must drop a spot to make room for Norco. Despite a lone loss, head coach Teri Johnson and her girls can’t go ahead of Vintage or Santiago, or now Norco, based on those three teams’ strength of schedule.

13. (13) El Diamante (Visalia) 22-1-1
With just a lone game last week, the Miners finished the first half of West Yosemite League play with a 1-0 win over Golden West of Visalia. Sierra Hyland allowed just one hit while striking out five to lower her ERA to 0.94. Steve Johnson had the game’s lone run batted in as the Miners won their 13th in a row.

14. (14) Moorpark 17-3
Since their loss to No. 11 Norco, the Musketeers have fired off 11 wins in a row, including wins last week in Marmonte League action of 4-2 over Simi Valley and 12-1 win over Westlake of Westlake Village. Amanda Lorenz doubled and homered twice while driving in three runs in the mercy rule shortened win over the Warriors.

15. (15) Chino 16-2
Going over one month without losing, the Cowgirls went on the road and defeated Ontario 11-0 in their lone game last week. Currently 8-0 in the Mt. Baldy League, they will once again play just one game this week with a matchup against Montclair. Chino’s two losses this season have come against No. 1 Mission Viejo and No. 2 Mater Dei of Santa Ana in one-run games.

16. (16) Marina (Huntington Beach) 19-2
Junior Tera Blanco recorded both wins last week to improve her record to the same as the team. She first beat crosstown Edison 10-0 and then came a 6-1 win over Newport Beach Newport Harbor. Against both foes, Blanco tossed one-hitters with eight strikeouts. This week’s games are against Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos.

17. (NR) California (San Ramon) 13-3
The Grizzlies, like the rest of the teams from the CIF North Coast Section, are starting to catch up with the other sections on games played. The result is after a 1-0 victory last week over Amador Valley, head coach Joe Callaway and his girls come back into the rankings after dropping out with two losses at the Livermore Stampede, where they lost 2-0 to Mitty and 8-3 to Elk Grove Pleasant Grove when Lindsey Chalmers didn’t pitch. Their other loss was 1-0 to Amador Valley in the Queen of the Mountain title game. Last week, Chalmers finally got a win over Amador Valley on a five-hitter with seven strikeouts. Kwyn Cooper tripled to lead off the bottom of the first and scored on a squeeze by Jessica Catson – and that was it for the scoring. The Grizzlies’ overall resume more than pays for the stinker loss to Pleasant Grove and lands them in a decent spot for this week’s rankings.

18. (17) Lakewood 17-5
The Lancer girls only had one game last week and it was a 19-6 shellacking of Compton. Head coach Andy Miramontes has a combination of good hitting and good pitching, and the team impressed many at the Carew Classic. Baylor-committed junior centerfielder and leadoff hitter Jessica Scroggins is hitting over .400, and senior Kent State-bound pitcher Janel Hayes has used a combination of decent velocity and hitting her spots to post a 14-2 record this season. Up this week are Long Beach Jordan and Long Beach Poly.

19. (18) Orange Lutheran (Orange) 19-6
Facing the No. 2 team in the state, the Lancers flexed their bats and scored nine runs against a Mater Dei pitching staff that was allowing an average of under a run and a half per game. It still wasn’t enough to pick up the win as they suffered a 15-9 defeat. Samantha Arents had two doubles, drove in three runs and led a seven-run uprising in the final inning. Orange Lutheran bounced back to end the week with a 10-0 win over JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano.

20. (19) Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 14-4-1
The Barons took the home-and-home series with arch-rival Eastlake, 11-2 at home and 6-3 on the road. Despite that, like the two teams in front of them, they have to drop a spot to make room for California and its better overall body of work. In the first win over Eastlake, Utah-bound senior shortstop Hannah Flippen hit a home run. After going 5-for-6 in the two games with four RBIs and four runs scored, she’s Flippen out so far this season to a .508 batting average, with three home runs 18 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

Team That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 20 Bishop Amat (La Puente).

Teams on the Bubble:
Alhambra (Martinez) 13-1-1; Banning (Wilmington) 17-2; Beckman (Irvine) 13-2; Bishop Amat (La Puente) 14-4; Buchanan (Clovis) 18-8-1; Canyon (Anaheim) 14-8; Carlmont (Belmont) 19-2; Casa Roble (Orangevale) 16-4; Chino Hills 18-6; Cypress 15-5-1; Edison (Huntington Beach) 14-8; El Camino (Woodland Hills) 16-3; El Modena (Orange) 12-10; Elk Grove 15-6; Foothill (Santa Ana) 12-9; Gilroy 11-7; Golden West (Visalia) 17-5; Highland (Palmdale) 16-1; Kennedy (La Palma) 10-7; Leland (San Jose) 18-2; Livermore 10-6; Los Alamitos 13-10; Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 16-2; Monte Vista (Danville) 10-6; Murrieta Valley (Murrieta) 17-7; Notre Dame (Salinas) 12-6; Poly (Riverside) 17-7; Petaluma 15-1; Pinole Valley (Pinole) 11-4; Pleasant Valley (Chico) 25-2; Point Loma (San Diego) 16-4; Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 17-5; Rancho Buena Vista (Vista) 14-5; Redwood (Visalia) 21-4; Rocklin 17-3; Roosevelt (Eastvale) 14-7; Rosary (Fullerton) 15-8; Salesian (Richmond) 12-1; San Benito (Hollister) 15-2; Santa Teresa (San Jose) 17-4; Saugus 16-7; Sierra (Manteca) 15-2; Soquel 17-2; Tracy 17-4; Upland 11-5; Valencia 13-8; Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 12-9; West Ranch (Valencia) 12-11; Wheatland 19-1-1; Whitney (Rocklin) 15-5; Woodcreek (Roseville) 15-6.

Mark Tennis and Paul Muyskens contributed to this report. 

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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