Crescenta Valley High's Jim Parque stands only 5-foot-9 but must look 10-feet tall to opposing batters.
The senior left-hander bound for UCLA has enjoyed a remarkable regular season. He will take a 10-2 record and an 0.40 earned-run average into today's first round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs.
He's also the area's strikeout king with 136 in 70 2/3 innings. Parque has struck out 10 or more in nine games and 14 or more five times.
He had double figure strikeouts in all but one of his eight league outings. He struck out 17 against Muir, 15 against Hoover and 14 against Arcadia.
"I knew he was going to be good, but he has done better than I thought," Coach Tony Zarrillo said. "He has gone above and beyond anything I expected. He's had a tremendous season."
With Parque on the team, it's easy to overlook Garrett Lee, a senior who also had a remarkable season. He was 4-1 with an 0.50 ERA in league games.
"He was overshadowed because Jim had such a great season," Zarrillo said. "But his league stats were very impressive. He has pitched wonderfully well for us, especially in the last month. We certainly would not be where we are if it were not for Garrett."
Lee is 4-3 with a 1.33 ERA.
Crescenta Valley's John Jenkins admitted that he might have been a little too relaxed when he won the 50-yard freestyle Saturday night in the Southern Section Division II swimming finals. He won by more than half a second but his time of 20.62 didn't match his 1993 record-setting 20.53 in 1993.
By the end of the evening, Jenkins' focus had changed. A raucous crowd of Loyola supporters seated behind the starting blocks had succeeded in firing him up for the 400 relay. "I wanted to make sure they didn't go home with everything," Jenkins said of Loyola, which had already locked up the team title. "We wanted to claim the last race as our own. I hadn't been that pumped up for a race in a long time."
The Falcons trailed Loyola by a length as Jenkins prepared for his anchor leg. After glaring at the Cub swimmer next to him, Jenkins made up the deficit in the first 25 meters and held on to win by a length.
Not Worst, Young
When you ask Rio Mesa baseball Coach Richard Duran about his team's worst-to-first season, he quickly interjects.
"I think when you look at the word 'worst,' we look at that in a positive way," said Duran, whose team was 10-14, 4-10 in league play last season. "When we finished last, playing in the Channel League, which is a difficult league, our kids learned how to play.
"We weren't really poor last year, we were just young. I look at last year as being the building block for this year."
In '94, the Spartans finished the regular season 18-6 and 11-3, and they could be better next season. The team has only three seniors. Among the top juniors are Chad Snyder (.440, 23 RBIs), Steve Arneson (.397, 30 RBIs), Eric Flores (.360, 15 RBIs) and Richard Soliz (6-1, 1.82 ERA).
Lancer Triple Play
Thousand Oaks became the first school in six years to qualify three runners for the Southern Section finals in the boys' 1,600 meters when Kevin Marsden (4 minutes 21.63 seconds), Jeff Fischer (4:24.12), and Chadd Aldrich (4:25.74) posted those respective times in Saturday's Division I preliminaries at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.
Agoura's Bryan Dameworth, Peter Oviatt and Bob Gorman placed third, sixth and ninth in the 1988 1-A--now Division IV--finals.
The L.A. Baptist baseball team picked the right time to peak. The Knights (19-5), who clinched their second consecutive league title last week and are seeded first in the Division V playoffs, are enjoying a 12-game winning streak with 11 of those victories coming against league opponents.
Five players with at least 18 at-bats in league play are batting .400 or better.
The Mr. Consistent award goes to Ryan O'Connell, who hit safely in all 12 league games, batted .450 (18 of 40) and had 17 RBIs. Leadoff batter Dana Berg had an on-base percentage of .500 and scored 19 runs in league games.
Matt Hernandez (9-1) gave up only four runs and went 5-0 in league play, beating each opponent at least once and finishing with an 0.82 ERA.
NORTH VALLEY LEAGUE
What if they held a North Valley League showdown and no pitchers showed up?
That's what happened last week when first-place Granada Hills and second-place Kennedy played twice.
On Tuesday, Granada Hills pitcher Josh Goldberg walked five batters and allowed eight earned runs in only 1 2/3 innings and Kennedy won, 12-2.
Thursday, Golden Cougar pitchers Keith Bryden and David Soto issued a mind-numbing 13 walks. Soto walked three batters with the bases loaded in the fifth inning in relief, and Kennedy lost, 5-3, to fall two games behind Granada Hills.
"Every single run they scored was either put on base by a walk or driven in by a walk," Kennedy Coach Manny Alvarez said. "It was frustrating."
Said Granada Hills Coach Darryl Stroh: "It was lousy pitching by one side or another the whole way through."
Around the Leagues. . . .
* Thousand Oaks' Matt Elam had more stolen bases (33) than hits (26) this season.
* Rio Mesa has stolen 40 bases in 41 attempts.
* The Rio Mesa pitching staff has held opponents to a .243 batting average.
* Agoura outfielder Kevin Sass' stolen bases slipped from 24 his junior year to seven this season, but there are factors other than his speed to consider. Sass batted leadoff last season and he batted third or fourth this season. He also had a slugging percentage of .620.
* Rio Mesa, Newbury Park, Moorpark and Hart lost their final league baseball games after clinching league championships. What's more, Moorpark and Hart were 11-0 in their leagues before losing their final games.
* Palmdale (18-6, 11-4) won six of its final seven league games but still could not win the Golden League title outright, because three of its four league losses were to Antelope Valley.
* Highland, which earned a playoff berth last season, loses 12 seniors and went 0-15 in league play this year. A ray of hope: The junior varsity was 11-4 and won the league title.
* Chatsworth pitcher Jim DeBiase is having an outstanding senior season. The right-hander is 8-1 with a 2.12 ERA and has six complete games in 10 starts.
* Antelope Valley's Chris Tapia finished the regular season with 20 extra-base hits in 21 games. Tapia had 11 doubles, seven triples and two home runs and a Golden League-leading 36 RBIs.
* Sylmar shortstop Hiram Damwijk (.329) went hitless in 18 consecutive at-bats before ending his hitless streak last week. He must have found the problem and corrected it. In the past two games, Damwijk is seven for nine.
* Fifteen of Van Nuys' 26 games were decided by two or fewer runs. Of the 15, Van Nuys won five.
* Poly's ERA is an incredibly low 0.88.
* Poly first baseman Paul Cespedes recently worked himself back into the lineup. In 28 at-bats, Cespedes has 10 hits and 14 RBIs.
* Hart freshman Monica Oleksyn's Southern Section Division II record time of 1:05.72 in the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday was a surprise considering Oleksyn had only the third-fastest qualifying time. But she cut 1.81 seconds off that time in the final.
* Dwight Hernandez of Palm Springs was the surprise winner in the region-dominated consolation final of the Division II 100 freestyle. Mike Scarcelli (Crespi), Jeff Robb (Crescenta Valley), Jon Schild (Crespi) and Mike Failoa (St. Francis) finished second through fifth.
Kennedy Cosgrove and staff writers Jeff Fletcher, Irene Garcia, Dana Haddad, Michael Lazarus, Paige A. Leech and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.