Miraleste High's baseball team took a turn for the worse Monday. Not in the Santa Fe League, where the Marauders appear headed for a top-three finish and a berth in the CIF-Southern Section 2-A playoffs.
Miraleste encountered troubles on its way to play Pater Noster in a league game at Scholl Canyon Park in Glendale.
In what might have been the wildest ride of the season, the Marauders were victimized by a confused bus driver, poor directions and a broken fuel line.
The ill-fated journey began to worry Miraleste Coach Ken Russell when he realized that the bus was heading east on the San Bernardino Freeway, in the opposite direction of its destination.
"That's when I knew we were in trouble," he said.
After correcting the driver, Russell said he helped guide the bus to the Glendale Freeway, where they were unable to find the intended off-ramp because of botched directions. Instead, they drove to the end of the freeway and ended up on a dead-end street.
But when the driver attempted to make a U-turn on a steep grade, several players noticed that gasoline was pouring out the bottom of the bus.
Russell immediately evacuated the bus and called the fire department from a nearby residence. As firemen hosed down the bus, Russell said his players sat watching the scene while eating ice cream purchased from a street vendor.
By the time another bus arrived, it was 4:30 and too late to play the game. It will be played today.
Said Russell: "Maybe we'll take a helicopter this time."
Rolling Hills swingman John Hardy, the two-time Bay League Player of the Year, has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the University of Pacific in Stockton, Titans Coach Cliff Warren said.
The 6-4 Hardy, who is projected to play either off-guard or small forward, averaged 27.7 points and 11.4 rebounds last season in leading the Titans to a 24-5 record and their third straight Bay League title.
Although regarded as one of the South Bay's top players and twice named to the All-Southern Section 3-A team, Hardy was not heavily recruited.
There is no denying his importance to Rolling Hills, however. In his two years as a starter, the Titans were 45-12.
The Bay League baseball race goes down to the wire today with five teams within one game of each other fighting for three berths in the CIF-Southern Section 5-A playoffs.
Beverly Hills (9-4) leads by one game over Rolling Hills, Palos Verdes, Santa Monica and Hawthorne (all 8-5). In league finales today, Beverly Hills plays host to Torrance, Palos Verdes plays at Rolling Hills, Santa Monica entertains Leuzinger and Hawthorne travels to Inglewood.
Because of the possibility of teams playing an extra game this week to determine playoff berths, some coaches are worried that pitching staffs will be pushed to the limit.
"I bet there's a game Friday or Saturday," Rolling Hills Coach Garry Poe said. "We're going to see some shortstop or center fielder on the mound."
Asked how the league will determine its playoff representatives in the event of a tie, Poe said: "I read (the league rules) and I couldn't begin to explain them. It's a mess."
Mira Costa (18-0) has been seeded No. 1 for the CIF-Southern Section 4-A volleyball playoffs and will play the winner of a wild-card match between Irvine and Laguna Hills at home in the first round Friday night at 7:30.
The Mustangs are gunning for their second Southern Section title. Coach Mike Cook guided them to the 4-A crown in 1984.
With a double against Rolling Hills last week, Hawthorne softball first baseman Erica Henderson ran her season total to 10, tying the CIF-Southern Section record shared by seven different players.
The senior had a chance to break the mark Tuesday but collected a triple and two singles in a 7-1 victory over Leuzinger that clinched the Bay League softball title for the Cougars (22-2 overall, 12-1 in league play).
Coach Noel Smith said he'll try to get Henderson the record today in the league finale against Inglewood.
The Redondo girls swim team won all 10 events to capture the championship of the Ocean League finals Friday at Culver City. Senior Dusty Crayton, junior Chrissy Johnson and sophomore Jennifer Kalinowski each won two events for the Sea Hawks.
Crayton placed first in the 200-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly, Johnson won the 50 and 100 freestyles and Kalinowski won the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle. Sophomores Siniva Kaneen (100 backstroke) and Leona Mason (100 breaststroke) each won one event.
Redondo advances to the CIF-Southern Section 2-A prelims starting at noon Friday at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach. The finals are Saturday.
PREP NOTES--Coaches at L.A. City Section high schools will be allowed to coach if they support the United Teachers-Los Angeles union and strike Monday in the event a settlement is not reached, the school district announced. . . . Hawthorne, which breezed through the Bay League track finals last week, will compete in the CIF-Southern Section 4-A prelims Saturday at Camarillo High at noon. . . . Preliminary competition in the CIF-Southern Section girls gymnastics championships will be conducted Saturday at Los Alamitos High.
South Bay's Baseball Top 10
Selected by Times Sportswriters Through Tuesday's Games
Rank, School, League: Record
1 El Segundo (Camino Real): 20-5
2 St. Bernard (Camino Real): 17-4
3 Mary Star (Santa Fe): 18-5
4 North Torrance (Ocean): 14-9-1
5 San Pedro (Pacific): 15-8
6 Banning (Pacific): 15-8
7 Bishop Mont. (Angelus): 13-10-1
8 Miraleste (Santa Fe): 15-8
9 Palos Verdes (Bay): 15-10
10 Rolling Hills (Bay): 12-10