They also left the area somewhat devoid of the type of dominant pitchers that could lift their teams to great accomplishments with a drop or rise and a little bit of luck. There are some potentially good pitchers waiting in the wings to take their place. Los Altos’ Diana-lynn Patterson comes to mind. So does Charter Oak’s Delaney Baylor-Dick or the St. Lucy’s tandem of Jaclyn Caro and Allie Garcia. But as the season approaches, one common denominator among most of the area’s top teams is the presence of top-notch hitters, not standout pitchers. Nogales’ Jessica Purcell, St. Lucy’s Julie Ward, Bishop Amat’s Lauren Mirabal, San Dimas’ Samantha Sloniker and South Hills’ Jacquelyn Holtzclaw could all help slug their teams to phenomenal seasons. The typical recipe for a good high school softball team usually includes a great pitcher, strong defense and fundamentally sound hitting. Several teams were able to follow that formula, or a variation of it, and post wildly successful seasons last year. Finding that main ingredient, the dominant pitcher, appears to be what stands between most San Gabriel Valley teams and a banner season. Whichever teams mentioned find the best combination of hitting and pitching stand ready to make the most noise. It’s as simple as baking a pie. 1. St. Lucy’s New coach Pam Crampton inherits a loaded team ready to do business in the area’s toughest league. The Regents were a difficult team to understand last season. They beat Sierra League powerhouses Chino Hills and Diamond Bar and swept Glendora. But when the playoffs came, St. Lucy’s stayed home while the teams mentioned above all advanced. This year’s team is stacked to the point that anything less than a strong run at the Sierra League title and a postseason appearance will be a disappointment. Like last year, St. Lucy’s boasts two legitimate No. 1 starters in Caro and Garcia. Both are accomplished hitters, too. Ward, a first baseman, hasn’t played a full season for various reasons in the past two years, but she’s arguably the area’s best power hitter at her position. “I couldn’t ask for anything more; this is awesome,” Crampton said. “My goal for each of the players is to improve their stats from last year. And for the seniors, we’re going to take it a step further and help them go to the college of their choice.” 2. Los Altos After a mediocre season in 2005, the Conquerors rebounded to have one of the finest seasons in recent school history. Coach Sarah Farnworth’s team won 22 games and finished 12-0 in the Miramonte League. There’s no reason why the momentum will stop this year. Patterson had a 0.71 ERA as a freshman last season. She could emerge as the top pitcher in the area as early as this season. Patterson was also productive at the plate, hitting .433 with 15 RBIs. She won’t have to do it by herself, thanks to the return of shortstop Samantha Perez, who hit .397 last season. The Conquerors could get a stiff challenge from Charter Oak in the Miramonte League, so nothing is a given. The presence of Patterson, though, should ensure Los Altos has another special season. 3. Glendora With speed and arms to burn, the Tartans appear ready to build on last season’s improbable second-place finish in the Sierra League. Glendora didn’t score enough runs last season to truly be an elite team, and that’s all that stands between the Tartans and taking the next step. Pitchers Angela Waldusky and Jessica Salvino return to headline the rotation. Coach Reese Mitchell believes he has six arms good enough to be in the pitcher’s circle, so the innings could be spread thin. Whomever is pitching will benefit from one of the area’s better defenses, led by returning All-Area infielder Kylie Landeros. Shortstop Ashley Paul is also back to form one of the top double-play combos around. Glendora couldn’t mash with the big girls last year and that hurt, especially against St. Lucy’s and Chino Hills. Mitchell believes his offense will be just fine this season, so that should have Glendora poised to approach 20 wins. 4. Diamond Bar The Brahmas rode La Rosa to a 22-win season in 2006. She’s since taken her act to California, thus leaving a major void in the pitcher’s circle and the middle of coach Roberta Garcia-Uyemura’s batting order. Things are never hopeless, though, when you’ve got a coach like Garcia-Uyemura. The ace this year will be sophomore Erica Miller, who had a 1.15 ERA in 73 innings last season. If Miller was that good as a freshman, there’s no telling what heights she’ll reach over the next three seasons. Catcher Cierra Garcia is among the area’s best at her position and will hit next to Miller in the lineup, either third or fourth. Garcia-Uyemura always develops a good leadoff hitter, and that player this year is Asha Prithviraj. Miller will be thrown into the fire having to face a group of difficult Sierra League teams in her first full season. How she fares will figure prominently in how the Brahmas rate with the area’s best. 5. Charter Oak It was the Chargers, and not Los Altos, who were favored to win the Miramonte League last season. Things never got off the ground, however, as Charter Oak went 17-10-1 and never threatened the Conquerors while finishing second in league. With many of the key parts from last year’s team returning, the Chargers have a similar upside to last season. Baylor-Dick is one of the better hurlers around and brings three years of experience to the pitcher’s circle. Brittany Gallegos hit .467 last season and returns, along with Crystal Venegas, who hit .378 with 20 RBIs. Katie Cayot, who came out of nowhere to hit .426 as a sophomore in 2006, also returns. The Chargers have the pop and pitching to deliver what was expected of them last year. But they could also duplicate a season that was considered a disappointment by many Charter Oak fans. This team is the area’s biggest X-factor. 6. Bishop Amat The Lancers had their moments playing in the Serra League and CIF-Southern Section Division I, but there weren’t many tangible results. The good news for Amat fans is that their team saw its chances for a league and CIF title improve significantly in the offseason. Amat will play in the Del Rey League this season and has been moved down to Division IV. The Lancers should be favored to win the league and could produce a nice postseason run. To do so, though, Amat must replace pitcher Breana Gomez. Coach Walt Martin thinks he can do so with Amy Lwin and sophomore Ariel Whiteman. Amat shouldn’t have any trouble scoring runs with UCLA-bound shortstop Mirabal back and hitting leadoff. Nikki Dominguez and Jessica Traxler provide two solid middle-of-the-order hitters to drive in Mirabal. Outfielder Aimee Ally, who Martin raves about defensively, should also play a prominent role in Amat’s offense. 7. San Dimas The Saints have either won or shared every Valle Vista League title this decade. That streak could be in jeopardy this season if a pitcher isn’t found to go with San Dimas’ nice collection of bats. Saints coach Don Pollard welcomes back the makings of a dynamic offense, led by Sloniker, who hit seven home runs last season. Catcher Yumi Hiroto also fared well at the plate despite being thrust into a major role as a freshman. Gabrielle McNelis adds depth to the lineup after hitting .318 last year and scoring 20 runs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that San Dimas is one-deep in the pitcher’s circle, and that one person is freshman Kortnie Clark. Pollard believes she’ll be a good one, but there could be some growing pains early. If Clark is even adequate, San Dimas has more than enough offense to simply outslug most opponents. 8. South Hills It might come as a shock to some, but the Huskies appear poised to jump past Nogales and Walnut in the San Antonio League standings. The Nobles and Mustangs have had a stranglehold on the league in recent years, but this looks like the year that changes. Holtzclaw is a big reason for the optimism after she hit seven home runs and knocked in 29 runs last season. Sara Quintero also returns to provide Huskies coach Scott Fisch with another big-time bat. Quintero hit .361 with 18 RBIs last season. Tara Olson provides the Huskies with experience in the pitcher’s circle. Even the slightest improvement on her 2.66 ERA from last season could be the difference between a league championship and another third-place finish. 9. Walnut There are more questions than answers around Walnut after last season’s stellar 20-2 record. The Mustangs lost several key components from that team, notably slugger Angie Quiocho. But there are some remaining parts for 2006 Tribune Coach of the Year Jenny Fredrickson to work with. Pitcher Britany Matlock brings experience to the pitcher’s circle and could be one of the better pitchers around. Matlock will probably have to play a big role in her own run support, but judging by her .396 batting average from last season, that won’t be a problem. Kristin Lane hit .368 last year and should provide another capable bat in Fredrickson’s lineup. The Mustangs will get their usual big test from Nogales this season, and South Hills might be better than both. But with Fredrickson calling the shots, expect another very good product. 10. Nogales Like Walnut, the Nobles have some major question marks but some good players to build around entering the season. Senior standout Purcell might be the best player in the area. She hit .475 last season, scored 29 runs, had 20 RBIs, smacked six home runs and stole 14 bases. Purcell might not see anything to hit if another threat in the lineup isn’t found. Cindy Fonseca hit .281 last year with 14 RBIs. She might be the Nobles’ best option in the pitcher’s circle, too. Purcell didn’t have to carry the team last year, but that’s exactly what will be required of her this season. The Nobles’ supporting cast needs to step up and give Purcell some help. This team is capable, but it may need time before it reaches the heights of previous seasons. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2233 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! That may not be the case this season. When dominant pitchers like Diamond Bar High School’s Brittany La Rosa and La Puente’s Desiree Biolley graduated, they took with them a very important ingredient to the softball recipe for success.
FOOTBALLER of the year Karl Lacey says he’s ready to face Tyrone in the Ulster Championship clash this Sunday.But he says a final decision will rest with boss Jim McGuinness and the medical staff.The Four Masters man says he would have liked to have played more club football games ahead of the first round clash, but says he’s happy with his recovery from a serious hip injury after playing on match for his club and two friendlies for the county. “I’ve been back training with the lads now for the last four or five weeks. It’s building, it’s getting there. The hip is feeling good and the match fitness is getting there too.“If I’m not ready, I’ll let Jim know, but I feel that I am ready for this weekend, to play some part. But I’ll leave the ball in their court, to make the decision on that.” DONEGAL V TYRONE: KARL LACEY SAYS HE’S READY FOR ACTION was last modified: May 22nd, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:DONEGAL V TYRONE: KARL LACEY SAYS HE’S READY FOR ACTION read more