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Lakewood Out of Playoffs on Ruling

From Staff Reports

Lakewood was ousted from the Southern Section baseball playoffs because it held an illegal batting practice before Tuesday’s second-round game against Moreno Valley Valley View, section officials ruled Thursday.

Lakewood, last year’s Division I runner-up, defeated Valley View, 4-3, but the section upheld Valley View’s protest that the Lancers conducted batting practice before the game, a violation of playoff rules. Valley View will play host to Anaheim Servite at 3:15 p.m. today in a quarterfinal.

Playoff rules allow pregame hitting from a batting tee or during a soft-toss drill, in which a player on a knee tosses a ball from the side of the batter. Teams are not allowed to conduct pregame hitting drills that involve overhand throwing, primarily to eliminate an advantage for the home team as it waits for the visitors to arrive.

“The overhand throw and the full swing both were involved,” said Southern Section assistant commissioner Paul Castillo, one of two section administrators who made the ruling based on videotape and photographs taken by parents of Valley View players. “It was batting practice.”

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Lakewood Coach Spud O’Neil disagreed and said his team was playing “pepper,” a warm-up exercise that does not include hard hitting but utilizes soft overhand throwing.

O’Neil said the team played pepper before every playoff game last season.

“It’s a shame that high school sports has come to this, where you have two people ruling on what is and what is not pepper, even though the game was decided fair and square on the field,” O’Neil said. “One guy swung away and let one fly, but I consider that to be adrenaline.”

Lakewood did not appeal the ruling but a parent of one of the players is exploring the possibility of gaining a court injunction before today’s game, O’Neil said. Recent attempts to gain injunctions have been unsuccessful.

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Lakewood finished with a 24-8 record. Valley View is now 21-7.

-- Mike Bresnahan

Talk about the Southern Section singles and doubles tournaments, which continue today and conclude Saturday at SeaCliff Tennis Club in Huntington Beach, has focused on who won’t be competing and the possibility of a change in rules.

Santa Margarita junior Kaes Van’t Hof, the Ojai tournament’s CIF Interscholastic division runner-up last month, and Corona del Mar sophomore Carsten Ball, a Southern Section doubles champion with Garrett Snyder last season, failed to qualify for last week’s regional competition after finishing third in league tournaments. Only league champions and runners-up advance to regional play. Seeded players are then given byes in the first round.

A Southern Section tennis advisory committee will discuss the topic, but the next meeting won’t take place until September, according to Castillo, who is the section’s administrator of tennis. Any changes would apply to girls’ tennis, too, and probably wouldn’t be in place until the 2003-04 school year.

“I think there are just some top players who could probably do well but didn’t advance because of the leagues that they’re in. So when they see byes, people say, ‘Why?’ ” Castillo said.

-- Lauren Peterson

Allyson Felix of North Hills L.A. Baptist, the world junior record holder in the girls’ 200 meters, heads a list of seven defending state track and field champions who will compete in the Southern Section Masters meet at Cerritos College in Norwalk today.

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Other defending state champions in the meet are hurdler Ashlee Brown of Riverside North, Michael Haddan of Irvine Woodbridge in the boys’ 800, Sharon Day of Costa Mesa in the girls’ high jump, Lena Bettis of Riverside North in the girls’ long jump, Michelle Sanford of Woodbridge in the girls’ triple jump and Billie Jo Grant of Arroyo Grande in the girls’ discus. The meet will start with field events at 4:30 p.m. Running events start at 6.


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