Anaheim Canyon is mired in a rare losing streak and things aren't getting any easier for the Comanches, who have dropped three in a row heading into a nonleague doubleheader against No. 16 Fullerton Rosary on Wednesday at Cal State Fullerton.
Canyon opens play Saturday in the highly competitive Santa Ana Foothill tournament against Riverside King, the defending Southern Section Division III champion.
"We could be on a seven-game skid before it's over," Coach Lance Eddy said.
Canyon (6-4) has been slowed by the absence of senior outfielder Laura Kimborowicz, who had 12 hits in her first 15 at-bats this season. She has been sidelined since Wednesday, when an internal cyst ruptured during a game against top-ranked Garden Grove Pacifica.
Without Kimborowicz, who hopes to return against Rosary, the Comanches have lacked timely hitting. They had nine hits Friday in a 5-1 loss to Irvine Woodbridge and outhit Chino Hills Ayala on Saturday, but two errors and a passed ball allowed two runs to score in the eighth inning of a 3-2 defeat.
The Comanches have been saddled with high expectations since the Amateur Softball Assn.'s 14-and-under national championship game in the summer of 2000.
That's when Kimborowicz, sisters Erin and Heather Slettvet, Sandra Burns and Ashley Becker played on the winning team, the Cruisers, and Lisa Geer and Jessica Runge played for the losing team, the Invasion. But an unlucky streak began shortly after the championship game. Kimborowicz had enjoyed a strong freshman season at Canyon but broke her ankle sliding into second base during a travel-ball game that winter. She sat out preseason practice and then broke her thumb a few games after her return and was lost for the season. The Comanches eventually lost in the Division II semifinals.
Canyon began last year ranked No. 24 in the nation by Student Sports magazine and enjoyed a successful regular season, even though Kimborowicz played only in about 10 games because of a shoulder injury. Canyon was ranked No. 3 in the Southland by The Times going into the Division II playoffs but lost in the first round to Anaheim Loara, 5-0.
Coming into this season, the Comanches had to replace five starters who graduated, as well as second baseman Becker, who gave up softball to focus on golf. That meant an entirely new infield this spring.
"From a defensive standpoint," Eddy said, "we lost a lot."
The Comanches committed 24 errors in 31 games last season, but Eddy said they've already surpassed that total. The team is batting .330 with 11 home runs through the first 10 games, but the loss of Kimborowicz has created a void in the lineup.
"I was seeing the ball real well," Kimborowicz said. "I was real focused.
"We'll come together. It looks like a new team, but we're playing a lot better than how I thought we would."
Pitchers Jennifer Martinez of La Habra and Jennifer Winford of Huntington Beach Brethren Christian are probably feeling a little unlucky.
Martinez struck out 17 and didn't walk a batter Thursday against Santa Fe Springs Santa Fe, but she gave up four costly hits in a 2-0 loss.
Winford threw a no-hitter Saturday against Huntington Park in the Downey tournament, striking out 15, but the Warriors lost, 3-0.
Three Huntington Park runners reached base in the first inning on dropped third strikes and two scored on passed balls. Huntington Park scored in the sixth on three errors.
Pasadena Poly has beaten up opponents in the Prep League the last 19 years, but at the El Monte Arroyo tournament last week, the Panthers held their own against bigger schools.
They defeated Crescenta Valley, 2-1, in the championship game Saturday after upsetting Hacienda Heights Wilson, 2-0, in a semifinal Friday.
Coach Chuck Ellis, who guided Poly to the Division V semifinals last season, wasn't surprised by his team's play.
"We've had a lot of success in our program over the years," Ellis said. "Did we roll on the ground afterward and go crazy? No. We take the field thinking we can beat anyone."
The Panthers (9-1) have been led by pitcher Emily Nelson, who was chosen the tournament's most valuable player. She struck out 11 against Wilson and seven against Crescenta Valley.
Before Dana Hills defeated Santa Margarita in the championship game of the Laguna Hills tournament Saturday, the Dolphins had to beat the clock against San Clemente.
Trailing, 1-0, when they took the field in the sixth inning of Thursday's semifinal game, the Dolphins had only seven minutes to finish the inning or the game would end because of a two-hour time limit. San Clemente obliged by making an out on each of Lauren Chastain's first three pitches.
In the bottom of the sixth, Caitlyn Senkbeil led off with a triple and scored after an interference call on the third baseman. The Dolphins won in eight innings, 5-1.
Dana Hills (7-0) defeated Santa Margarita, 5-2, in the championship game. Chastain, a sophomore, pitched three scoreless innings of relief for her fourth victory this season.
The Dolphins today will face their toughest test this season, when they travel to No. 3 Orange El Modena for a nonleague game.