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SOUTHERN SECTION SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS : Four County Teams Alive in Drive for 3-A Championship

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ten Orange County teams started in the 32-team Southern Section 3-A softball playoffs, including three of the top four seeded teams, but only four county teams remain for today’s second-round games, which begin at 3 p.m.

The biggest surprise was unseeded Tustin, which upset second-seeded Irvine, 3-1, last week. Laguna Beach, Woodbridge, Mission Viejo, Capistrano Valley and University also were eliminated.

Other county teams remaining in the 3-A playoffs are top-seeded El Toro, fourth-seeded Saddleback and unseeded Trabuco Hills.

Trabuco Hills is the only county team playing at home today.

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Saddleback and Tustin, the top two entries from the Sea View League, are in different brackets, setting up the possibility of an all-Sea View League final.

Today’s games:

El Toro (22-8) at Trabuco Hills (20-8)--This is a matchup of El Toro’s power pitching against Trabuco Hills’ power hitting. Trabuco Hills senior Linda Lunceford, a solid shortstop, has a .523 average as the leadoff batter. Her sister Christy, a sophomore catcher, is hitting .360 from the cleanup spot.

Paige Lauby (12-2) led El Toro with 178 strikeouts and an 0.07 earned-run average through the regular season, followed by Jennifer Jourden (6-2) and Marta Bickert (5-3).

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Lauby, a senior, also leads El Toro in hitting with a .282 average.

Saddleback (20-2) at Ramona (23-2)--Saddleback receives solid pitching from sophomore Desiree Abrego, who pitched the Roadrunners to the quarterfinals last year.

During the regular season, she had an 0.17 ERA with more than 200 strikeouts. Saddleback has three .400-plus batters and three others hitting .300 or better. Priscilla Sarmiento (.429) leads the way, followed by Nikkanni Andrews (.413), Claudia Rodriguez (.400), Leann Larriva (.387), Abrego (.352) and Cyndie Avila (.300).

Ramona packs some punch at the plate with five players batting better than .300, including outfielder Ida Diaz, a .517 hitter. Pitcher Angel Jaramillo is batting .413.

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Tustin (15-9) at Mayfair (17-10)--Tustin travels to Lakewood to take on Mayfair, an at-large team with only two seniors on its roster.

The Tillers are led by pitcher Shannon Ellis, who finished the regular season with an 0.61 ERA, 158 strikeouts and a .415 batting average. Teammates Alison Potenza, Laura Teal and Christine Garner are hitting over .300.

Mayfair is led by pitcher Stacy Van Essen, who has an 0.53 ERA and is batting .455.

In the 4-A playoffs:

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The second round begins Wednesday, but Villa Park and Rolling Hills agreed to play today at Rolling Hills at 3 p.m. Rolling Hills Coach John Vredenburgh had a scheduling conflict.


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