Premier Teams Hope to Show They're for Real

Here's a look at how teams shape up heading into the high school softball league races:


Things don't figure to change here, where Saugus and Hart annually battle for the title. In recent years, that decision has gone to Saugus, which has won 33 consecutive league games. All-Southern Section pitcher Nicole Giordano has graduated, but the Centurions (3-1) have six starters back. Second baseman Amanda Melton, right fielder Julie Watson and catcher Val Reyes will be keys. . . . Hart (5-1) may have the league's top pitcher, sophomore Amanda Fortune (4-0), who was 21-7 last year. Leadoff hitter Courtney Sherlock and sophomore shortstop Jocelyn Evans lead an improved offense . . . . San Jose State-bound right-hander Jennifer Tyler (3-1), who has 31 strikeouts in 28 innings, and sophomore pitcher Malia Sullivan (2-1) give Burroughs (5-2) and first-year Coach Pat Lynch a solid rotation. Identical twins Shaland Romero (.533) and Danette Romero (.333), the Indians' middle infield, are top hitters. . . . Senior shortstop Nicole Giampaolo tops six returning starters at Valencia. Freshman Lauren Watson will be a key at catcher. . . . Former Arizona All-American and Burbank graduate Debby Day has returned to her alma mater to rebuild the program. Burbank, 6-16 last season, is 3-3. Senior shortstop Chantal Pershing and junior second baseman Amanda Ivey will be keys for the Bulldogs. . . . First-year Coach George Bustos has assembled an impressive coaching staff and hopes to rebuild a struggling program at Canyon.




1. Saugus

2. Hart

3. Burroughs

4. Valencia

5. Canyon

6. Burbank


With junior left-hander Jodie Cox in the circle, Quartz Hill (4-1-1) is favored to win at least a share of its seventh league title in eight seasons. Shortstop Amber Slaton and right fielder Penny Wood were all-league selections last year. Sophomore catcher Olaya Salazar has been a pleasant surprise and leads the team in batting. . . . Highland showed last week it could be a contender, defeating Quartz Hill, 3-1, in the semifinals of the Hart tournament. In that game, backup pitcher Nicole Rawson pitched a three-hitter for the Bulldogs (5-0), who beat Hart in the final. Kelly Presten pitched the first no-hitter in the program's seven-year history earlier in the season. . . . Palmdale (3-0) tied Quartz Hill for the league title last season and should challenge again. Senior outfielder Kristi DiMarco, a two-time Times' All-Valley selection, batted .376 and stole a league-high 32 bases as a junior. Pitcher Mikki Goldwater had a 0.54 ERA last season. . . . When sophomore Candy Johnson pitches, Lancaster can compete with anyone. She shut down league champion Quartz Hill last season. . . . Antelope Valley and Littlerock are rebuilding under first-year coaches. Antelope Valley Coach Kristi Speir and Littlerock Coach Tammi Zammardi were teammates at Humboldt State.




1. Quartz Hill

2. Highland

3. Palmdale

4. Lancaster

5. Antelope Valley

6. Littlerock


Chaminade hopes to unseat longtime league champion Alemany. The Eagles (1-2-1) have one of the region's best pitchers, junior Maureen LeCocq, a two-time Times' All-Valley selection, and junior catcher Lauren Rousselet. Sophomore shortstop Courtney Whale has been a pleasant surprise. . . . Alemany is 3-3, but one loss was to state powerhouse Righetti and the other two were to Hart. In the three-game stretch, Alemany went 35 consecutive innings without a run. Long Beach State-bound pitcher Kim Diener was 22-4 last season and drove in a league-best 32 runs. . . . Harvard-Westlake's Anna Russell yielded fewer hits than any Mission League pitcher last season. But since then she has been plagued by elbow problems and is 0-1 for the Wolverines (2-1). The sophomore right-hander's recovery will be the key to their season. If Russell is unable to pitch, senior Val Alter will get the call. . . . Louisville is 3-0 despite losing outfielder Becky Witt and six other starters to graduation. Sophomore shortstop Christina Jordt and the all-league battery of pitcher Stefanie Urman and catcher Jemma Santos will be keys to Louisville's playoff hopes. . . . Notre Dame has two good pitchers, junior Patricia Wetzel and freshman Amanda De La Cerda. All-league first baseman Karen Tobin also is a key.




1. Chaminade

2. Alemany

3. Notre Dame

4. Harvard-Westlake

5. Louisville

6. Flint. Sac. Heart


Crescenta Valley (3-0) appears armed to recapture the league title it surrendered to Hoover last year. Senior pitcher Melinda Moulden was 17-7 with a 0.34 ERA as a junior, but she must share time with promising freshman Meredith Cervenka. Cervenka (2-0) pitched a no-hitter against Verdugo Hills in a season opener and has struck out 22 in two games. Moulden is 1-0. Senior Becca Baldridge is a three-time all-league shortstop. . . . Hoover (1-1) rode the batting and pitching of freshman Cori Herbert to its first league title since 1993. Herbert was 17-8 with a 0.59 ERA and was third in the region with 246 strikeouts in 153 innings. However, she is 0-1 this season and battling a nagging groin injury. Shortstop Guinevere Platt, third baseman Diane Lee and all-league catcher Justine Takizawa will try to carry the team until Herbert is at full strength. . . . Glendale has 14 seniors on its roster, including Kelley Cook. The Fresno State-bound shortstop was sixth in the region last season with a .463 average. First baseman Kristina Kirk and pitcher Danielle Paknik will be critical to the Dynamiters' drive for a playoff spot. . . . Arcadia relies on all-league pitcher Deanna Rodriguez.




1. Crescenta Vly

2. Hoover

3. Glendale

4. Arcadia

5. Pasadena

6. Muir

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