GLENDALE — Rim of the World High, host of today's CIF Southern Section Division VI second-round softball playoff game against Flintridge Prep at 3:15 p.m., may enjoy a home-field advantage more imposing than most.
In having to meet the Scots on their home turf, the Rebels will not only have to travel roughly 80 miles by bus, but will spend the final 20 weaving through a two-lane mountain road on a vertical climb to the mouth of Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains.
"Road trips aren't bad, but going up a mountain is never something you want to be doing right before a softball game," said Prep Coach Julie Jaime, whose team (14-4) won the Prep League title and opened the playoffs with a 2-1 win over Santa Paula on Thursday. "It will be interesting, but our team has been great and they're definitely gamers, so I think once we get off that bus and stretch our legs a little bit I think we'll be ready to go."
Once that part of the journey is completed, the Rebels must face off against a Scots team that has compiled a 22-5 mark, finished runner-up in the Mountain Valley League and cleared the first round with a 4-1 defeat of the Academy for Academic Excellence on Thursday.
With no direct contact or even common opponents between the two teams during the regular season, a full scouting report has been hard to come by for Jaime and the Rebels.
"We don't know anything [about Rim of the World]," Prep slugging third-baseman Abby Deckop said, "but going in blind might not be such a bad thing."
The Scots' best player isn't hard to identify, though. Arizona State-bound senior Elizabeth Caporuscio is batting .616 on the year with 10 home runs and 54 runs batted in and is 14-5 in the circle with a 3.79 earned-run average and 104 strikeouts.
She's protected in the lineup by two other players batting .400 or better in junior first baseman Sarah Tribe (.534 batting average with six home runs and 35 RBIs) and junior catcher Taylor Tribe (.400, three home runs, 24 RBIs).
"It looks like she's surrounded by a couple of pretty good hitters and then after that we should be OK," Jaime said. "It should be a pretty good matchup, I think."
The Rebels will send Denise van der Goot to the circle in search of her 12th win of the year to just one loss. The senior right-hander sports a miniscule 1.03 ERA with 178 strikeouts and opponents are batting just .173 against her.
Van der Goot's one-run, 16-strikeout complete-game performance kept the Rebels in the game against Santa Paula, but Jaime knows a more productive offensive showing will likely be needed today.
"We hit the ball OK, we do need to hit the ball better this time through," Jaime said. "We can't leave it just a one-run game, we've got to get on the board early.
"We just need to keep putting the bat on the ball, but we do need to find a way to get runners on."
While it relies more on contact and good base running than power, the Rebels' offense is powered by Alina Okamoto (.366, 16 runs scored), Deckop (.357, 17 RBIs) and Ashley Kim (.365, 21 runs scored), but on Thursday the Rebels showed they can get production from all over the lineup when first baseman Rachel Simon singled home Kim for the walk-off win.
"The bottom of our lineup came through [against Santa Paula]," Deckop said. "We were happy about that and that leaves us with a good attitude going into our next game."
Even as she gets ready to face the Scots' tough lineup, van der Goot talked of the Rebels' offense capitalizing on opportunities as the key to the game.
"I know they have a good pitcher," van der Goot said, "so we are going to need to hit the ball in the gaps and get the most out of getting people in."