NEW Softball State Top 20

The Los Alamitos softball team collected a large trophy for winning major tournament over the weekend in Bullhead City, Ariz. Photo: @LosAl_Softball.

The Los Alamitos softball team collected a large trophy for winning major tournament over the weekend in Bullhead City, Ariz. Photo: @LosAl_Softball.

Los Alamitos makes a statement by winning prestigious Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona and pushes hot start of the season to 8-0. Still, we don’t drop No. 1 teams that don’t lose so our preseason state No. 1, Pioneer of San Jose, is still No. 1.

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(After games of Saturday, March 12)
(Preseason ranking in parentheses)
(Paul Muyskens contributed writeups to this post)

1. (1) PIONEER (SAN JOSE) 4-0
While it’s true the Mustangs won’t be in a tourney close to the level of the TOC in Arizona, they did win their first three games 12-0, 5-0 and 10-0 and they’re led by a pitcher (UCLA-bound Holly Azevedo) who only gave up one run last season. If we weren’t comfortable with them staying No. 1 until they lose or even if one of the SoCal teams goes unbeaten, we wouldn’t have started them at the top. In our system, we don’t drop No. 1 teams unless they lose and won’t start doing that now. In 30 years of doing this (unlike anyone else in the business), that strategy has worked out way more times than it has not.

2. (6) LOS ALAMITOS 8-0
The Griffins didn’t just win the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona last weekend they crushed the competition to the tune of a 30-1 scoring margin. Ryan Denhart pitched a shutout against Pacifica (Garden Grove) in the semifinals and then gave up five hits with 10 strikeouts in an 11-0 win over Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the final. Mary Iakopo, Caitie Ladd and Jade Loe all hit home runs in the final as well.

Etiwanda head coach David Masucci must be enjoying coaching a group of mostly seniors this season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Etiwanda’s David Masucci must be enjoying coaching group of mostly seniors this year. Photo: Mark Tennis.

3. (9) ETIWANDA 12-0
Head coach David Masucci’s club began the season by winning the Dana Housley Tournament with a 7-5 win over preseason No. 2 Norco and kept on winning last week at the Jurupa Valley tourney. In the last two games of that event, the Eagles won 11-0 vs. Alta Loma and 12-0 vs. Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga. Megan Stevens homered twice in the season-opener and hit her fifth of the season against Norco. Both she and fellow senior standout Vanessa Taukieaho have both been hitting well above .500 in the team’s first 12 games.

In an all-Orange County pair of semifinals at the Arizona TOC (which does have top teams from around the West Coast), while Los Al beat Pacifica in one, it was the Monarchs topping defending champ Mission Viejo 4-2 in the other. Since the title game loss is Mater Dei’s only loss so far, the strong weekend showing gets the Monarchs a big jump in this week’s rankings.

It’s tricky for the CIF North Coast Section teams at this early point of the season because of their section’s antiquated rules that limits the number of games for its teams. The Dons, however, are scheduled to start playing this week and they’ll be in a doozy. They are traveling to Sacramento on Wednesday for a matchup against state No. 12 Sheldon.

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