It didn't take long for Juan Ponce of Hueneme High and Greg Spink of Rio Mesa to establish themselves as long-ball threats.
Ponce, a senior outfielder, hit four home runs in his first five at-bats, two in each game March 5 and 6 against Harvard-Westlake and Taft. Ponce's home runs accounted for six runs.
"You just don't see that," said Reg Welker, in his 13th season as Hueneme coach. "I never see that. And I'm a dinosaur."
The same day Ponce hit his second pair of homers, Spink, a senior right-hander, belted three home runs against Beverly Hills. Spink's homers included a three-run shot and accounted for five runs.
Heading into this week's games, Ponce is batting a team-high .467 (seven for 15) with seven RBIs. Spink is batting .526 (10 for 19) with 12 RBIs.
Last season, Spink did not hit a home run. Ponce hit one.
Why the power burst?
"This year, I've been working out hard," said Ponce, who stands 5 feet 6 and weighs 185 pounds. "My main concern is to look at the ball and hit line drives like they teach us at practice.
"One of my friends said he'll take me out to dinner if I hit another one. I said, 'Wait until the end of the season.' "
The re-sodded field at Hueneme has been slow to solidify, which might require Friday's Channel League opener against Santa Barbara to be moved to a neutral site. "It's just not ready yet," Welker said. "Right now, we're the Hueneme orphans." . . .
Rudy Swanger leads Rio Mesa with a .579 batting average (11 for 19). . . . Derek Swafford of Ventura, who will attend Northwestern on a football scholarship, is another fast starter this season. He had a home run and six RBIs last week against Inglewood.
Simi Valley's 3-0 loss to Millikan on Saturday in the championship final could be viewed only as good news for league opponents. The Pioneers, ranked second nationally by USA Today and Baseball America, were 4-1 entering league play. "I guess they are beatable," Channel Islands Coach Al Tarazon said. "That's a good thing." . . .
Channel Islands senior right-hander Cesar Puga has allowed only two earned runs in 12 innings--more than he pitched all of last season when he was a reserve. Puga is 1-1. . . . Adrian Castellon is batting a team-high .429 (six for 14) for the Raiders. . . .
Simi Valley relief ace Trevor Leppard has received scholarship offers from University of San Diego and Cal State Northridge, according to his father, Tom Leppard. Leppard also has received interest from several other schools, including USC, UCLA and Arizona State. . . .
Colby Keener of Camarillo is batting .375 (six for 16) and all of his hits have been for extra bases. Keener, a senior catcher, has four doubles, a triple and a home run. . . . Agoura senior right-hander Joe Smith struck out 11 en route to pitching a five-hitter in a 3-2 victory against Grant. Smith is 1-1. . . . Agoura's Kevin Sass is batting .524 (11 for 21). . . .
Don't call Simi Valley ace Sara Griffin (3-0) one-dimensional. Griffin, a junior right-hander, did not allow an earned run in three pitching victories in four Simi Valley tournament games last week. She had 25 strikeouts and walked three. Griffin, the tournament MVP, also went nine for 14 (.643) with two home runs.
Crespi right-hander Keith Evans seems to have recovered from elbow problems that sidelined him for most of last season. Evans, 2-0 with 12 strikeouts in nine innings, has allowed four hits and one unearned run. . . . Celt sophomore outfielder Brad Farlow is eight for 10 with seven RBIs and four runs scored. . . .
Jeff Suppan, Crespi's star right-hander, is 1-1. He lost, 3-1, to Millikan, which then beat Simi Valley to win the El Segundo tournament. Suppan is 0-3 against Millikan. "I don't think they have his number," Coach Scott Muckey said. "They scored three runs against him. That will usually win for (a pitcher)." . . .
Harvard-Westlake threw away a potential double play in the sixth inning of its 11-5 loss to Rio Mesa on Saturday in the Westside tournament. That opened the door for the Spartans to score eight unearned runs in the inning, erasing a 5-1 deficit.
Statistics through Monday.
Staff writers Jeff Fletcher, Vince Kowalick and Paige A. Leech contributed to this notebook.
Baseball Top 10
Selected by sportswriters of The Times
Lst. Rk Wk Team League Rec 1 1 Simi Valley Marmonte 5-1 2 2 Notre Dame Mission 5-0 3 6 ECR W. Valley 5-1 4 3 Crespi Mission 4-1 5 4 Kennedy N. Valley 5-1 6 10 Taft W. Valley 5-1 7 5 Hart Foothill 4-1 8 - Buena Channel 5-1 9 - Palmdale Golden 5-0 10 9 Monroe Mid-Valley 4-2
Basketball Final Top 10
Selected by sportswriters of The Times
Rk Team League Rec 1 Thou. Oaks Marmonte 26-2 2 N. Hollywood East Valley 25-2 3 Simi Valley Marmonte 24-7 4 Notre Dame Mission 25-7 5 Crescenta Vall Pacific 22-5 6 Monroe Mid-Valley 23-4 7 Ventura Channel 22-4 8 Hart Foothill 18-8 9 San Fernando N. Valley 15-9 10 S. Clara Frontier 21-6