* Bolsa Grande: 17-10, 9-3 in 1997. Coach: Laura Milledge (first year). Prospects: The Matadors, seeded second in Division IV, suffered a huge playoff disappointment, losing in the first round. Bolsa Grande has four starters back: seniors Katie Brunner (pitcher/shortstop) and Desiree Cantrell (shortstop), junior Laina Kinsella (pitcher/third baseman) and sophomore Debby Baeder (first baseman). The biggest hole they'll try to fill is pitcher.

* Garden Grove: 14-15, 9-3 in 1997. Coach: Cliff White (fourth year, 56-33). Prospects: The Argonauts lost nearly as many games last year as they had the two previous seasons combined (17). Hoping to turn back the trend are six starters, including second-team all-league junior outfielder Autumn Gray, senior pitcher Erica Hammontree and junior pitcher Nuvia Marti (three no-hitters), who batted 4-5-6 last year. Sophomore shortstop Chris Cansdale, who batted leadoff, also returns, along with junior second baseman Czarina Finona and catcher Sarah Whittaker. Pitching could provide the key to Garden Grove's potential fortunes.

* La Quinta: 4-20, 2-10 in 1997. Coach: Cassie Brothers (first year). Prospects: The Aztecs will be relying on their defense to carry them. Only one of six returning starters is a senior, outfielder Marsha Lindquist, but junior first baseman Heidi Foster was a first-team all-league player and sophomore catcher Brenda Ibarra was a second-team selection.

* Los Amigos: 3-16, 0-12 in 1997. Coach: Gregg Aguilar (third year, 4-37). Prospects: Six starters, only one a senior, return as the Lobos continue rebuilding. Sophomore Angela Yorba, a shortstop, and Monica Curiel, an outfielder, were second-team all-league players. Catcher Suzy Reyes is the only senior on the team. The other returning starters are juniors, pitcher Kim Guillen, first baseman Irene Peralta and outfielder Vanessa Estrada.

* Pacifica: 30-1-1 in 1997. Coach: Rob Weil (ninth year, 165-39-1). Prospects: Pacifica finished the 1997 season ranked No. 1 in the nation and returns its pitcher, Times Orange County player of the year Amanda Freed (20-0, 0.23 ERA, UCLA). Freed tied a section record with five perfect games; five more this season will match the record 12 set by Lakewood St. Joseph pitcher Lisa Fernandez (1986-89). Opponents batted .062 off Freed, and her pitching will probably have to overcome the loss of shortstop Toni Mascarenas (.400, 22 RBIs), who is starting for top-ranked Arizona. But the Mariners, defending Division III champions, have eight starters back, including these first-team all-leaguers: junior catcher Toria Auelua (.340), senior first baseman Nicole Pickett (.273) and senior center fielder Tiffany Wallace (.341). Debbie Mastergeorge (.180) and second baseman Dara Webb (.219), both juniors, were second-team all-league choices. Sophomore outfielder Shawna Goessling (.225) will be counted on to contribute more offensively. Freed (.362) may also have to step up as the clutch hitter Mascarenas was.

* Rancho Alamitos: 10-13, 4-8 in 1997. Coach: Bruce Dennison (first year). Prospects: Four freshmen and four sophomores will start for the Vaqueros, including the only two returning starters, pitcher Tina Hyllested (6-6), who batted .340, and first baseman/outfielder Trisha Heinlen. A newcomer who could contribute is sophomore Storm Dennison, a transfer from Pacifica.

* Santiago: 12-14, 6-6 in 1997. Coach: Corky Driver (11th year). Prospects: Alicia Morley, a second-team all-league player, is the only returning starter for the Cavaliers, who will entrust pitcher Alison Decker to take over for Erica Pilkington.

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