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EMPIRE LEAGUE

Century

Coach: Shanna Stewart

1999 record: 11-15

League record: 3-7

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Century was a feel-good story last season, surprising the county with its competitiveness and reaching the final of the Michelle Carew Classic before losing to El Dorado. One of the key figures in the turnaround was sophomore pitcher Crystal Soto, and with the lineup returning almost intact, Century should be even better. There are eight returning players, including all-league shortstop Ana Villalovos, a senior, and the team’s best offensive player, senior catcher Clarissa Parga. A key for Century’s success will be how well it is able to manufacture runs.

Cypress

Coach: Heather Illsley

1999 record: 9-16

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League record: 3-7

Four starters are injured, and two are out for the season: senior center fielder and leadoff batter Heather Hiar (torn knee ligament) and senior second baseman Jaime Matoba (broken leg). Junior outfielder Kristen Baker will miss about three weeks, and junior first baseman Allison Chislock (.354) will miss a month, both with sprained ankles. Candice Baker, a freshman pitcher, will be counted on heavily.

El Dorado

Coach: Jill Matyuch

1999 record: 22-4

League record: 9-1

The Golden Hawks had a splendid season for Coach Jill Matyuch (second year), right up until they were beaten in the second round of the Division II playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Only three starters are back from that team. Lauren Gallardo, a senior outfielder, batted .301 and scored 18 runs; Kristi Durant, a sophomore shortstop, batted .346, scored 10 runs and drove in 15; Keri Cavish (.196) was a second-team all-league outfielder. El Dorado entrusts its pitching to a young battery, of sophomore pitcher Kris Karanzias and sophomore catcher Kim Sanders.

Katella

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Coach: Melissa Graham

1999 record: 6-19

League record: 1-9

The Knights have five returning starters in four key positions, including pitchers Julie Gardosik and Stacey Gardner. Two seniors, shortstop Laura Reilly and second baseman Deanna Orosco, anchor the middle infield, and junior third baseman Renee Hunt also returns for second-year Coach Melissa Graham. The Knights will seek some punch from sophomore first baseman Ashley Ratliff.

Kennedy

Coach: Sue Hall

1999 record: 18-10

League record: 8-2

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Coach Sue Hall (13th year, 302-87-2) has a young team but one that’s possibly her most talented. Sophomore pitcher Michelle Turner (9-3, 0.17) is among a group of talented sophomores that includes shortstop Breanne Sabol (.231) and outfielder Andrea Ruiz. Sabol, dogged by injuries last season, is already attracting attention from collegiate powers and, like Turner and senior center fielder Laura Ryan (.298, 11 RBIs), is extremely fast. Designated hitter Loraine Geiger (.377, 11 RBIs), a junior, bats cleanup. , and sophomore Jennifer McCard will start at catcher or third base after missing last season. Second baseman Sarah Mesa (.262) has signed with Texas A&M.; One other notable addition will be on the coaching staff. Jami Shannon, who coached Los Alamitos for 21 seasons and compiled a 332-184-2 record, will serve as co-coach.

Loara

Coach: Scott Weber

1999 record: 17-13

League record: 6-4

There’s almost universal agreement that sophomore catcher Lauren Lappin is one of the county’s most dangerous hitters. Lappin, the second-team designated hitter on the all-county team as a freshman, batted .544 with five home runs and 34 RBIs. Coach Scott Weber (fourth year, 30-52) has nine returning starters, including sophomore pitcher Alicia Owen (12-7, 0.67), who batted .432. Katie Joosten (5-0, 0.52) also pitched.


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