5-A Baseball Semifinals
Beverly Hills (19-8) vs. Esperanza (20-8) at El Dorado High, 3:15 p.m.
Beverly Hills has been one of the highest-scoring teams in the playoffs with 26 runs in 3 games. The Normans overcame a 5-0 deficit and upset top-seeded El Dorado, 13-11, in the second round. Doug Saunders finished a big week for Esperanza against fourth-seeded Simi Valley with 2 homers and 2 innings of hitless relief. Saunders has 3 saves in the playoffs and is batting .470 with 9 home runs. Saunders has 8 saves this season and 11 in his career. Saunders, who has signed with the University of Illinois, has hit 7 homers in his last 8 games. Esperanza is attempting to become the first school to reach the large-school championship game in three straight seasons since Lakewood in 1975-77. Junior right-hander Roger Weems (9-4), who has won three of the Aztecs’ four postseason games, will start.
3-A Baseball Semifinals
Saddleback (22-6) vs. El Toro (17-13) at UC Irvine, 3:15 p.m.
Right-hander Sean Therien (7-3) will be the starting pitcher for Saddleback, the county’s only seeded team remaining in the playoffs. Therien pitched a complete game and allowed only four hits in his only start of the playoffs against Coachella Valley. Right fielder George Saldana, who hit two home runs in the quarterfinals against Dana Hills, leads the Roadrunners with 5 homers, 27 RBIs and 27 runs scored. Freshman Rob Johnson (3-3) will start for El Toro. Johnson has won two playoff games and has an earned-run average of 0.54 in 13 playoff innings. The Chargers’ first five batters in the lineup are hitting .429 or better in the playoffs. Both third baseman Adam Brass and second baseman Brian McNamara have seven hits in the playoffs. Don Goodbrand (6-1), who last pitched April 27 before developing tendinitis in his right shoulder, will be the first pitcher out of the bullpen if Johnson gets into trouble. El Toro is attempting to become the fifth team from the South Coast League in the past six years to reach a championship game.
4-A Softball Semifinals
Fountain Valley (24-6-1) vs. St. Paul (19-6) at Heritage Park, 3 p.m.
St. Paul, which finished second in the Angelus League, is coming off an emotional 22-inning quarterfinal game against second-seeded Righetti. St. Paul won 1-0, led by junior right-hander Keri Kropke (19-3), who struck out 30. Kropke, whose earned-run average is 0.08, pitched a perfect game in the first round against Torrance and a 1-hitter in the second round. Last year, St. Paul knocked Fountain Valley out of the playoffs in the first round, 1-0, and lost to Thousand Oaks in the quarterfinals. The Barons beat Thousand Oaks in Thursday’s quarterfinals, 2-1, in 8 innings. It was Fountain Valley’s toughest playoff game: the third-seeded Barons outscored their opponents, 23-2, in the first two games. Freshman pitcher Rae Rice (19-5) has pitched a four-hitter in each playoff appearance. The winner of this game will face the winner of Buena-St. Joseph in the championship.
3-A Softball Semifinals
Kennedy (23-5) vs. Charter Oak (25-3) at Royal Oak High, 3 p.m.
Top-seeded Kennedy rolled over Covina, 7-0, in the quarterfinals. Freshman pitcher Cheryl Longeway has pitched three consecutive shutouts in the playoffs and the Irish put together a strong offensive attack against Covina, led by Laurie Graper with 2 triples and 4 RBIs. Fourth-seeded Charter Oak knocked off Western, 3-0, in the quarterfinals. Pitcher Caryn Askey (16-2), who is headed for Cal Poly Pomona, pitched a 2-hitter in that game. This is Charter Oak’s third straight appearance in the semifinals. The team has lost the previous two years.
Valencia (23-6) vs. La Mirada (25-2) at Cerritos College, 3 p.m.
Valencia’s Michele Granger (22-1) has pitched a perfect game and two one-hitters in the playoffs. Her latest effort was a 2-0, nine-inning victory over Buena Park in the quarterfinals. Granger scored the winning run on a ground-rule double by catcher Valerie Finley, who has recovered from a mid-season injury. The semifinal round has been the jinx on Granger’s quest for a Southern Section title. The Tigers have been eliminated in the past two years. Second-seeded La Mirada beat Diamond Bar, 3-0, in the quarterfinals. La Mirada is led by junior pitcher Dena Mullins (19-2), whose ERA is 0.21. The team’s batting average is .308, led by Nicole Stelter. La Mirada lost to Charter Oak in last year’s quarterfinals.
2-A Softball Semifinals
Woodbridge (23-6) vs. Arroyo (21-0-1) at Mountain View High, 3 p.m.
Top-seeded Woodbridge, last year’s 2-A co-champion, is led by pitcher Tiffany Boyd (22-4), who has yet to give up an earned run. Boyd pitched her ninth no-hitter of the year in quarterfinal victory over La Serna. She also is leading the team with a .349 batting average. Undefeated Arroyo is seeded fourth. Arroyo edged Mission Viejo, 4-3, in the quarterfinals. The team is led by pitcher Julie Todd (16-0). Arroyo is a powerful hitting team with five players hitting more than .500, led by center fielder Marcela Castano, who is batting .571 with 28 RBIs and first baseman Alicia Marrone, hitting .528 with 8 home runs and 58 RBIs.
Laguna Hills (19-9) vs. Corona (21-4) at Alicia Park, 3 p.m.
Laguna Hills, last year’s 2-A co-champions, are peaking at the right moment, led by pitcher Margo Melendrez (18-8), who pitched a 1-hitter in the quarterfinals against Santa Fe. Melendrez also is leading the team in hitting more than .600 in the playoffs. Corona (22-4) knocked off San Clemente, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. Corona, which lost to Laguna Hills in last year’s semifinals, is led by pitcher Kari Pucci (16-0). Catcher Francine Watson had both RBIs in the semifinal victory.