East County Sports

2017 Softball League Previews

Photo by Dwight Tinker

2017 EAST COUNTY PREP SOFTBALL

 

By Adam Paul

EastCountySports.com

 

LEAGUE PREVIEWS

The Grossmont Hills league will again be ultra competitive this year and again be one of the toughest leagues in all of San Diego. This reporter pretty much drew from a hat and also threw darts. I think the least amount of wins it will take this season to capture the league will be 7 and the most amount will be 8. I don’t see any team going perfect or only losing once in league. Like last year anything can happen which is why the games are played on the field and not on paper.

1. Granite Hills – The defending Hills league champions are actually looking for a three-peat as they were the winners of the Valley league a couple of years ago. The Eagles return 8 players who played last year and add 5 newcomers who are already making a huge impact. They already have shown that they are a team to be reckon with in the county as they have victories over the Cathedral Don who were ranked No. 2 in the county at the time and also the Ramona Bulldogs who were ranked No. 10 at the time to claim the Platinum Bracket in the Cougar Classic.

Key players for the Eagles include HALLE KYLER who is batting .344 and has knocked in a couple of runs and stolen 5 bases and in the circle has won a game while striking out 11, while posting a 1.07 ERA in 4 appearances.  Her leadership will be a big key in how far the Eagles go this year.  KAYLA MACK is another player who is key, she is batting .357 and is tied for the team lead in RBI with 8.  This year the Eagles have a new face behind the plate catching as JESSIE LAPIERRE graduated, HAYLEY JOHNSON who is only a freshman has shown that the future is bright as she is second on the team in batting at a .471 clip and is tied with Mack with 8 RBI on the team. She also showed she could produce in the big games as she showed in the Cougar Classic.

Besides hitting, defensively she has shown she can be one of the top catchers in the league and soon the county.  The other key contributor is BAILEY WALLACE who also is only a freshman and like Johnson plays like a veteran. She is batting .343 and is second on the team in RBI with 6.

Pitching wise the Eagles this year will have a three headed monster to go with Kyler as sophomore CATIE DOBBS the fireballer, anchors the staff and has shown she can be a big game pitcher as she 2-hitted the Bulldogs in the Platinum Bracket Championship game. On the season she is 5-1 with an anemic .94 ERA and has fanned 39 batters so far in 29 2/3 innings of work. The other pitcher on the staff is Freshman STACI CHAMBERS who pitched brilliantly in the victory of the semifinals of the Platinum Bracket over the Cathedral Dons. She is a duel threat like Kyler in that she is batting .429. Pitching wise she is 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA and has struck out 36 batters in 29 innings of work.

The Eagles are averaging a tad over 4 runs a game and they are giving up a tad over 2 per contest. So if the Eagles are to repeat as champs and make another deep run in the Division II playoffs, they will have to be able to score runs on a consistent basis and keep the runs allowed down.

2. Santana – The Sultans with a little tougher schedule this year have shown they can play with the bigger teams as they recently beat Patrick Henry who was No. 8 at the time and they have two victories over La Costa Canyon who is always a tough team.

The Sultans have shown they can score runs as they have scored 70 for an average of a tad over 6 a game.

They return 10 players from last years squad that won 18 games but one of the biggest losses is SYDNEY VATES to graduation. She was a big bat in the lineup and also a stalwart at shortstop.

Key returners to the Sultans is 3B RACHEL WILSON who is batting .407 and has 12 RBI so far and is tied for the team lead in homeruns at 3 and also 12 RBI. Catcher MACKENZIE BENNETT a junior leads the team with a .611 average and has belted 2 home runs and has driven in 10 RBI and also 8 doubles. Behind the plate she will have to step up and play like she has the ability to if she wants to be considered one of the top catchers in the county.  Duel threat Sophomore MADISON MENDEZ who is batting .349 and is tied for the team lead 3 homers and 12 RBI is another key pitching wise in the circle with her 7 victories to go with her 2.75 ERA while striking out 45 batters.

The other key player is CASSIDY MATTHIE a senior centerfielder who is hitting .357 and has scored 9 runs while driving in 7 RBI.  Taking over for Vates at shortstop is Freshman KRYSTEN SERVICE who so far has done a fine job with her defense and also the bat where she is hitting .433 while scoring 8 runs and driving in 3 RBI and belting 4 doubles.

If the Sultans are to vie for the league crown as they did a year ago and also stay in the upper half of the league and make a deeper run in the Division II playoffs the bottom half of the lineup will have to produce and the freshman will have to contribute as well.

3. West Hills – Coming off a season in which they finished fourth in the league, the Wolf Pack this year hitting wise 1-9 are a tough lineup to get through. Their tough schedule always prepares them for league and also playoffs. They return 10 players from the team last year and add a bunch of newcomers who know the expectations.

Key returners include four year player ALEX GUAY behind the plate as a multiyear starter, she is batting .400 including tied for the team lead with 2 home runs and has driven in 9 RBI and scored 3 runs. SIERRA SCHLICHTING is one of the toughest outs in that she has only struck out once in 28 at bats, on the year she is hitting .500, also tied with the team lead of 2 home runs, driven in 9 RBI and scored 11 runs and has 3 stolen bases. RYLEIGH DOBYNS who also plays the field when not pitching is batting .417, scored 3 runs, driven in 2 RBI and hit 5 doubles. New to the lineup this year ASHLIEGH HARTWIG and so far she has contributed quite a bit with her .409 average, 5 doubles, 7 RBI and 3 runs. Offensively the Pack is averaging about 6 runs per game as they have scored 53 and they have allowed 40 runs for an average of a tad over 4 a contest so there will have to be a little more consistency.

4. Steele Canyon – A new coach this year for the Cougars in KEVIN PEARLSTEIN who took over for JULIE NEUBAUER and so far the results have been good as they have won 10 games so far, which is most in the county.

The Cougars who are on fire as of late winning 4 games in row and dominating their way through the Hilltop Tournament bracket including a victory over No. 3 Mater Dei Catholic 7-1 and a 9-1 victory over Hilltop to claim their second tournament championship which also included the Copper Bracket championship of the Cougar Classic. Offensively they have scored 94 runs for an average of a little over 6 per game and give up 3 1/2 a game as they have allowed 53 so far.

Last years squad that won 20 games and tied for second in league returns 11 players including MAKAYLA MCCARTHY who won 17 games last year and so far has won 7 this year. ERA wise she stands at 2.43 and has struck out 43 batters in 69 innings of work. She is also dangerous at the plate hitting .368 and has driven in 11 RBI. Behind the plate returns McCarthy’s battery mate MAKAYLA STROMENGER who has belted 3 homers to go with her .333 average while driving in 9 RBI and scoring 11 runs.  Defensively she can play with the best of them and her attitude in that she is willing to get dirty is a big reason why the Cougars will contend and have a shot to go farther in the Division II playoffs. Leading things off for Steele Canyon in the lineup is Sophomore AUDREY  BAGGE who is coming off of a great freshman campaign. So far she is hitting .489 while driving in 11 RBI and scoring 16 runs, she also has hit 2 home runs, 2 doubles and triples. At the top of the lineup she helps set the tone with her ability to get on base. Following her in the lineup is GENTRY HOFFMAN who is hitting .366, she also has driven in 8 RBI and scored 8 runs, JJ VENZOR who leads the team in homeruns with 4 also leads with 14 RBI and has scored 12 runs. Other standouts include Freshman MASEN PEARLSTEIN with her 12 runs, and EMMA DODSON with her 10 RBI and 7 runs among other.

5. Valhalla – The Norsemen are the interesting team in the league as they have won almost as many games as last season under new coach RICK MCMILLAN who takes over for veteran MARK OBNEY who is now at Serra. Also they are a team not to be overlooked as they have already beaten both Bishops and University City. They return 9 players including KENNEDY LABSHERE who leads the team in hitting at .500, also has driven in 12 RBI and scored 12 runs, has also hit 6 doubles and 2 triples and swiped 3 bases. VICTORIA VILLEGAS who is hitting .344, has hit 2 homeruns which leads the team and also driven a team high 13 RBI, RACHEL SHELSTROM who has been on a hitting terror of late is hitting .484 which is second on the team, and has scored 13 runs and stolen 4 bases.

This year the Norsemen have added a third pitcher in DELANEY STETTLER to go along with LILY METSCH and TORI BASSETTE. Despite the high ERA for Metsch, she is the workhorse of the staff as she will eat a lot of innings and with any type of run support will be in good shape.

One of the only things stopping the Norsemen is the inconsistent play in the field as errors have tended to happen in the worst spots in games which have led to victory being snatched away. If Valhalla is to move up or play spoiler they will have to fix that and look out if they are able to.

6. Grossmont – The defending Division III CIF Champions I don’t think will finish in this spot but for right now are in this spot as they have played really inconsistent ball lately and not to their talent. Unlike last season when they got off to a really great start and won the Cougar Classic Gold Bracket Championship their record this year is 3-7. In one to two run ball games they are 0-5.

Another reason for the pick here is the fact that they have a minus one run differential in that they have scored 51 runs for an average of a little over 5 per contest and have given up 52 runs for an average of 5.2 a game.

Grossmont returns 11 players off of last years Championship squad that won 23 games including CHLOE CAMARERO who had 61 hits and batted .521 last season and was an ALL-CIF selection, TAYLOR BAEZ who had a streak of 3 games with a home run earlier, SAMARIA ROOPE the sophomore who last year won 18 games as a Freshman, this year she will have to be more consistent pitching wise and also do more at the plate. DESTINY BACON who also was an All-CIF selection last season will have to help pick things up. CASSIDY DAVILA who also pitches will be asked again to keep the pitching consistent when Roope isn’t in the circle. The Foothillers will be adding infielder MOANA PISIA who transferred from West Hills and has had to sit out. She will be eligible to play in April and when she becomes eligible could help the Foothillers. If the Foothillers are going to contend and give the league a run for the money and also a deep run into the Divison II playoffs as they have been moved up this season, the big bats will have to pick things up and the pitching will have to be more consistent along with the defense.

 

The Grossmont Valley will probably end up coming down to Helix and El Capitan as it did last year when El Capitan defeated Helix on the very last day on a walkoff grandslam to produce co-champions. I do believe the other teams will be competitive amongst themselves and maybe one will play spoiler against Helix and El Capitan.

1. Helix – Last year they tied with El Capitan as the Vaqueros defeated them on the very last day of the season. Also they have lost a lot of firepower as they graduated both DESTINI BULLOCK and VICTORIA CYMAN who combined for 95 of their 300 hits and also 71 of their RBI from last season. However they return only a few off last years team that won 19 games including junior MCKENZIE FLORES who leads the team with a .478 average and has plated 7 RBI and scored 13 runs, SHAREENA LACHANCE who bats and also pitches. Last year she won 12 games and this year she has won 2 but also has some help with a couple of Freshmen in KASEY CASTRO and ALLISON LUPSHA. If Helix is to win the league outright this year they will have to make sure they score runs which they have so far scoring on average of about 7 per contest and make sure they don’t slip at the wrong time.

2. El Capitan – Tied for the league crown last year as they won against Helix on the last day of the regular season. This season they return pretty much every player from last season. Despite the slow start this season of 1-6 as they have played a tougher schedule, the Vaqueros will do alright in league. One of the biggest things that will stop the Vaqueros is the inability to score runs but in league I think the offense will pick things up. If they can get the offense going they will be good to go.  Also errors at the wrong time will be another factor in how the Vaqueros do but I think they will overcome this.

Big keys to the Vaqueros is Senior GRACE BURKETT whose leadership as she is a multi-year starter and is leading the team in batting at .500. MARIA LOTTA is another key player with her second in team batting at .467. ALLYSON VON YOKES who came on strong as a Freshman last season will be a big contributor. Sophomore BAILY OLAVESON who has driven in 5 runs and is hitting .353 is another along with senior ZANDRA RAGOLE.  Besides the returners, the Vaqueros have some talented Freshman who will look to come into their own with more experience. This includes ALEXA WILLIAMS who besides hitting .357 is also looking to be the next big pitcher at El Capitan. She and AMANDA VASQUEZ will help the Vaqueros in their quest to repeat.  Williams and Vasquez will give Helix a tough time and be the keys to victory against them.

3. Monte Vista – The Monarchs have a new coach in EDGAR QUINAGON who took over for long time veteran JOE DEMARS. So far the results have been good as they have put up league best 8-3 record. Big Key factor in the success for the Monarchs is Senior returner GEENA HENDERSON who so far this year leads the team in batting at .562 and also has driven in 16 RBI and scored 18 runs, Senior CIERRA ROSS is batting .483 and has driven in 12 RBI and scored 8 runs. Other players who have contributed are IONNA UPHAM, BRITNEY JACOBSON and Junior pitcher SAVANNAH SOBOTKA who so far has won 7 games and struck out 71 in 48 innings of work.

4. Mount Miguel – New coach KEVIN DARBY already has the Matadors with more wins this season with than last season. This year they have won 3 games. He has them in the right direction and I think they will be more competitive and could even finish third.

5. El Cajon Valley – the Braves like the Matadors already have won more games than last year as they have won three games. In their victories they are putting up runs so if they can put a little offensive magic together they can move up in the league standings.

 

The City League decided this year to split the leagues and try and make things more balanced and in doing so made the Western side of the league really tough with Cathedral, Scripps Ranch, and Patrick Henry.

City-Eastern 

1. Christian – The defending CIF DIVISION IV champions led by veteran coach GEORGE GENTRY return pretty much their entire team last year except for ANNA SHERBURNE who graduated. That is a big loss as she clubbed double digit homeruns and was the veteran leader but so far the slack has been picked up pretty well. With an 8-2-1 with a loss already to University City albeit not in league I believe will finish on top as they have the firepower to score runs and play with some of the better teams when they are on. Leading the way for the Patriots this season is Junior Shortstop SILENT RAIN ESPINOZA with an average of .659 and has scored almost 30 runs including 4 stolen bases. She is very talented both offensively and defensively and is one of the team leaders who will guide the Patriots to the crown.  ASHLEY CARTER who last year helped pitch the Patriots to victory in the CIF Playoffs has a record 7-2 so far while striking out 20 so far in almost 60 innings of work, batting wise she is hitting .450 and has 9 doubles, 11 RBI and has scored 16 runs. Other key contributors are SHANNON MCMAHON who is hitting .474 and has driven in 17 RBIs, LAUREN SHERBURN a sophomore who is hitting .410 while driving in 11 runs and scoring 17 runs, Freshman AUDREY SHEBLOSKI is another one with her 8 RBI and 7 runs scored. One of things stopping the Patriots is they can commit errors at the wrong times as was the case against University City in the tournament championship. The Patriots I think will be alright and if they can play at consistent high level they will do well in the Division III playoffs where they have moved to this season.

2. University City – The Centurions who already own a victory over the Christian Patriots and are currently 8-2 will look to keep up their play as they look to take down the Patriots for the league crown.

3. Serra – The Conquistadors are guided by new coach veteran MARK OBNEY who comes over from Valhalla and takes over for MARK BICKERSTAFF. Serra returns quite a few players but unfortunately graduated much of their firepower. Key returners are VIVIAN TOMOVICH who is currently leading the team in hitting at .576, she also has driven in 9 runs and scored 10 runs, she also has the lone homerun. JORDAN GRAVES who is hitting .355 and has 11 RBI will help anchor the lineup with Tomovich. The young lineup will benefit from the experience of Obney and in league I believe they will do alright.

4. OLP – They return quite a few starters this season but have been inconsistent in their play. They already have a league loss to Serra.

5. Madison – The Warhawks can score runs as they have scored 63 but they can also give them up as well as they have given up 64. They are 0-4 in one run ballgames and that will have to change if they are to play any type of role in the league.

6. La Jolla – Division IV runners-up last season the Vikings are off to a bad start at 3-7 and already have lost to University City. They might be able to turn things around with a winning streak coming up as they some teams that they can possibly beat.

7. San Diego – Have them slotted here as they are currently on a 6 game losing streak after winning the first game of the year. They have given up 64 runs on the season and offensively have only scored an anemic 24 runs.

 

City-Western

1. Cathedral Catholic – Tsihe Dons who are currently ranked No. 5 in the county are led by UCLA bound Junior MEGAN FERAIMO who is currently undefeated and when healthy is one of the best pitchers in San Diego. She has struck out 32 batters in 20 innings of work. Other key contributors include OLIVIA LAQUA, Sophomore SARA RUSCONI, and JACY BOURGEOIS among others.

2. Patrick Henry – The Patriots who are currently ranked No. 8 in the county return quite a dynamic team that was the Division I runner-up in CIF last season. They are led by HANNAH MCEWEN who patrols the outfield like no ones business and at the plate drives the offense. Currently leading in batting with a .556 average, she has scored 13 runs and has driven in 8 while belting 8 homers including an inside the park homer. Senior MADISON (MJ) JAMES is one of the better pitchers in the county when healthy in that she can overpower a lineup. On the year she is 4-3 but has struck out 27 batters in 28 1/3 innings, offensively she is hitting .519 while driving in 16 runs and belting a team high 4 home runs. Her battery mate senior catcher CRISTIONA CACCAMISE is considered one of the best catchers in the county and is currently hitting .429 and has plated 9 RBI and scored 7 runs. Other contributors are Senior CASSIE VAN TIL who is hitting .364, Sophomore LAILA SPRACKLEN who also pitches and gives the Patriots another option is hitting .320 while driving in 6 runs and scoring 5. Patrick Henry if they are able to put it all together can possibly overtake the Dons and capture the league.

3. Scripps Ranch – Another team that can possibly capture the league crown. They just recently defeated West Hills. Leading the way for the Falcons is Sophomore ALYSSA VILKE who is batting .619 and has hit 5 homers and driven in 15 RBI to go with her 10 runs, LEXI OSOWSKI who is hitting .524 and has 8 RBI and has scored 8 runs is another big factor in the Falcon lineup.

4. Point Loma – The Pointers are an interesting team as they have a couple of lefty pitchers who can wreak havoc on any lineup. They are a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly as they will play spoiler against any of the top teams if done so.

5. Clairemont – The Chieftains can possibly move up if they play better ball and are able to keep the runs down against.

6. Mira Mesa – Usually a team that plays consistent ball every year are this year down and unfortunately I don’t think will do anything in league as they give up way too many runs and don’t score very much on offense. They could possibly pull off an upset as they have been known to.

 

 

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