Strange week for Orange Lutheran creates some interesting decisions. Plus, more on Moorpark, which teams just missed the cut and big games to watch for this week.
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Most California softball aficionados believe that if anyone has a chance to beat state No. 1 Mission Viejo in the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs it’s the Moorpark girls from southeastern Ventura County.
Their resume includes wins over No. 2 Pacifica (Garden Grove) and No. 7 Mater Dei (Santa Ana), but in their next game at the Best of the West tournament they were thumped 11-0 by Norco, and that has kept them down in the mid-teens of the state rankings. The Musketeers’ other two losses were early on to previously ranked Anaheim Canyon and a solid Valencia West Ranch.
Since the Norco loss, head coach Meaghan Stotts and her girls have won 15 straight going into a Tuesday matchup with host Thousand Oaks, including a 12-0 record in the very formidable Marmonte League.
What’s even more amazing is the last seven games have been without Loyola Marymount-committed senior pitcher Rachael Farrington, a Cal de-commit that is injured.
“My sophomore Kassidy Simons is doing a great job,” remarked Stotts, a Moorpark teacher and alum that played at Arizona and has been at the Musketeers’ helm for 10 years.
Another sophomore is doing well, and that’s last year’s State Freshman of the Year, Amanda Lorenz. Although she hasn’t hit a home run in the last two games, she’s still tied for the state lead with 16 round trippers. Lorenz is also hitting .648 with 39 RBIs and 38 runs scored. Her on-base and slugging percentages are through the roof at .706 and 1.423, respectively. It’s no wonder Florida offered her at the beginning of her freshman season – and she accepted.
It also helps that Stotts has a 20-girl roster with eight other girls besides Farrington and Lorenz that will play at the next level.
Senior Danielle Brown is bound for UC Davis, senior Nicole Pufahl is a Louisville-commit, senior Kaitlyn Wilkins is committed to St. John’s, senior K.C. Saxe is Southeast Missouri-bound, CSU Northridge is where senior Madison Fleming is headed, senior Haylee Haas is going to Bryant University, junior Erika Hansen is committed to Bradley, while senior Alexa Curt is looking at Ivy League schools, particularly Harvard and Dartmouth.
“Right now the focus is on finishing league strong,” said Stotts when asked about playoff aspirations. “Sure, that would be great if we had the opportunity to go that deep and possibly play Mission Viejo. We’d be really pleased.”
Even though Orange Lutheran came up with a 6-3 upset on the road at Mater Dei, it was preceded by a loss to a Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) team that is only .500 and 2-4 in Trinity League play.
Despite the Mater Dei win, the Lancers have seven losses with more than one stinker amongst them, so they reluctantly had to be dropped from the No. 19 spot this week even though they retained their No. 7 spot in the OCVarsity.com rankings done by Carlos Arias.
The question of who to bring in wasn’t easy, either. It wasn’t going to be another Orange County team like nine-loss Anaheim Canyon, the No. 8 team in Arias’ rankings.
It came down to two teams from the Bay Area. One was the Petaluma team from up the block from my abode, and a team that just took out an Alhambra (Martinez) team that was knocking on the door of the rankings, and the other was previously ranked San Benito of Hollister.
After talking to 2011 State Coach of the Year Scott Smith of San Benito, a decision was made to trump Petaluma’s 2-1 win over Alhambra with the overall body of work by San Benito.
The biggest reason the Haybaler girls are back in the rankings is senior pitcher Megan Sabbatini is on fire.
The University of San Diego-bound pitcher has overcome an early season non-softball arm injury, and getting sick in Las Vegas that caused head coach Smith to hold her out of a 6-5 tournament loss to Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson.
After a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory last week over Salinas Notre Dame, Sabatini is now 17-0, has only given up one run in Monterey Bay-Gavilan League play, and tossed a perfect game and a no-hitter to go with last week’s performance.
“Megan’s on a roll now,” Smith remarked. “She’s throwing sixty-percent better than last year. She’s become a pitcher instead of just a thrower.”
At least when the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan stopped by the Petaluma game on Tuesday afternoon, we could tell our neighbors that our local girls are No. 21 in the state.
Big games coming up
Provided neither No. 6 Amador Valley (Pleasanton) loses to Danville Monte Vista on Tuesday or No. 16 California (San Ramon) gets taken down by Livermore Granada, the Caravan will make the trek to Pleasanton to watch game two of the East Bay Athletic League grudge match that the Grizzlies lead after a 1-0 victory last month at home.
The offensive problems Amador Valley has had seem to have been remedied. Since the California loss, the Dons had some problems in a 1-0 win over Danville San Ramon Valley, but then have won 10-0, 10-0, 6-0, and 10-0 over Pleasanton Foothill, Livermore, Concord Carondelet and Livermore Granada, respectively.
The run that California scored on a lead-off triple by Nevada Las Vegas-bound Kwyn Cooper coupled with a squeeze is the only run Arizona State-bound junior and 2012 State Sophomore of the Year Johanna Grauer has given up since a run to No. 18 Lakewood in the 2-1 consolation championship victory of the Michelle Carew Classic.
We will be tweeting live from that game on Thursday.
Players that shined
Kaylee Carlson (Pacifica, Garden Grove)
To say the North Carolina-bound junior right-handed pitcher has shined is an understatement. Last week, in a 7-0 victory over Placentia Valencia, she pitched a perfect game. The lanky 5-foot-11 Carlson struck out 17 consecutive batters sandwiched between two infield popups and two ground outs. Earlier in the week, in a 9-1 victory over Anaheim Western, Kaylee pitched a one-hitter, allowing a run with four walks and six strikeouts. Since becoming the girl head coach Mark Campbell has depended upon in the circle, Carlson is 14-0 with a 0.34 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched. The only extra base hits she’s given up are two doubles. Prior to last week, she already had two no-hitters and two one-hitters under her belt.
Alyssa Palomino (Mission Viejo)
The sophomore slugger that’s slugging it out with another sophomore for the class’ top honor this year, just tied that girl, Amanda Lorenz of Moorpark, for the state lead in home runs. She hit No. 16 last week in a 13-5 win over Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita. The Arizona-committed Palomino, the granddaughter of former world champion and Los Angeles area boxing legend Carlos Palomino, is also hitting .533 with a .648 on-base percentage. Besides being powerfully-built and strong, Palomino is quick as well, having stolen six bases in six attempts.
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