East County Sports

2018 SOFTBALL LEAGUE PREVIEWS

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2018 EAST COUNTY PREP SOFTBALL

By Adam Paul

EastCountySports.com

LEAGUE PREVIEWS

 GROSSMONT HILLS LEAGUE

Considered to be one of the top three toughest leagues in all of San Diego County this year will be no different. Having seen every team and pouring over the stats and going over past information this year again will be a tough one to predict. To claim the league this year I think the winner will have to win 6 games at minimum.

1. GRANITE HILLS – The two time defending Hills League Champs and technically three-time defending champions if you count their Valley League title just before coming over will be looking for a four-peat. The Eagles return 9 players from last year’s squad that won 24 games and made it to the Semi-Finals of the Open Division playoffs.

They have shown they can play with the really good teams in San Diego with a narrow loss to #2 Cathedral Catholic and also a narrow loss to #3 Poway.

Key players for the Eagles include Catie Dobbs who in the circle has a 1.11 ERA and has struck out 57 batters in 31 2/3 innings in 8 appearances. It will be her leadership that will help propel the Eagles. Staci Chambers who is also part of the two-headed pitching monster the Eagles offer will be another factor in the success of the Eagles. For the season she has a 1.43 ERA and has struck out 51 batters in 53 2/3 innings in 10 appearances. Both Chambers and Dobbs also lead the team with 2 home runs.

Behind the plate is sophomore Haley Johnson who is batting .432 with 6 RBI which is tied for second on the team. Johnson is still considered one of the best catchers in the county and that will be a huge deal in league play. Bailey Wallace who Is batting .372 also has 6 RBIs will be a factor in how far the Eagles go as she, along with her sophomore counterparts have a lot of expectations.

Pitching wise the duo of Dobbs and Chambers will be a huge advantage for the Eagles. Both can pitch in the big games and have shown they can handle the pressures.

A couple of things that hinder the chances for the Eagles is the lack of consistency in the offense in scoring runs and also the defense. Defensively the Eagles will have to cut out the errors committed at crucial times in games and on the offensive side be able to get the .timely hits to score runs.

Granite Hills is averaging 6 runs a contest and will have to keep that up if they are going to make any type of run either the Division I or Open playoffs.

2. GROSSMONT – The Foothillers have really surged lately, winning 7 games in a row including a big win over Ramona in the semi-finals and captured the Jaguar Classic tournament championship with a win over San Pasqual. Grossmont before that made their bracket championship at the Cougar Classic.

Grossmont in their seven-game winning streak has really played really well and even in the loss to Eastlake they had their opportunities to score runs and possibly pull out the win.

Big contributors for the Hillers are Kimmy Bond, Katie Appenzeller, Kati Contreras and Samaria Roope who have big bats and also Roope in the circle with her experience will give them a big lift.

On the season Grossmont is averaging about 5.5 runs a contest and have shown they can score in bunches when needed. Despite losing the big bats of Chloe Camarero, Taylor Baez the Hillers have shown they can overcome those losses as it seems a new bat shows up every game.

3. STEELE CANYON – Despite losing 8 players off last year’s team this year’s squad hasn’t slowed down. The lineup 1-9 is very tough and will score runs and a lot of times in bunches. Offensively the Cougars are scoring 7 runs a contest and are giving up a tad under 4 runs a game.

Leading the way is Bianca Morales who is batting .390 and has 4 HRs and has driven in 15 RBI and scored 13 runs. She is a solid player defensively at third base and gives the Cougars a great glove at the hot corner. Audrey Bagge a three-year starter despite the average being down a little this year is solid defensively and gives the Cougars the experience necessary for league and playoffs. Also, the fact that she gets on base is huge as she has scored 16 runs on the season so far. Tayler Thomas is only a freshman but so far she is playing like a veteran with a .500 avg and has driven in 11 runs. Defensively she is solid in the outfield. Another big bat in the lineup is Maggie Carpenter who If you are not careful will make you pay, she has driven in 15 runs which

Also, the fact that she gets on base is huge as she has scored 16 runs on the season so far. Tayler Thomas is only a freshman but so far she is playing like a veteran with a .500 avg and has driven in 11 runs. Defensively she is solid in the outfield. Another big bat in the lineup is Maggie Carpenter who If you are not careful will make you pay, she has driven in 15 runs which is tied for the team lead. JJ Venzor a veteran for the Cougars so far is batting .479, belted 2 home runs and has driven in 13 runs and scored 21 runs.

Pitching-wise this year the Cougars have a new face in the circle in Grace Richter. She so far has won 10 games and has a 3.39 ERA. She is very solid and will be a key factor in the Cougars finish in league play.

Overall the Cougars will have to keep up with scoring runs and hope that their pitching and defense can do the rest.

4. SANTANA – The Sultans go into league under Coach Heather Arnold and so far have done well since she took over. Despite having a lot of returners back there are a lot of new faces to the team.

They have shown glimpses that they can play with the better teams as they made their bracket Championship at the Cougar Classic. However, if the Sultans are going to contend for league and beyond their bottom half of the lineup will have to pick things up.

On the offensive end the Sultans are averaging about 7 runs a contest while only giving up a tad over 2 runs a game.

Key players include Senior Mackenzie Bennett who is one of the better catchers in the county and can rake it with the best offensively. So far she is below her average with a .452 clip and has hit 3 homeruns while driving in 11 runs. Madison Mendez the dual threat in that she can pitch and hit is also another key player. Her record in the circle is 10-3 with a 2.05 ERA. Offensively she is hitting .417 with 4 HRs and had driven in 17 RBI. Besides Mendez and Bennett another player who has added a bat is Nicole Madrigal with her .375 average and 3 homeruns.

Adding defense at the shortstop position is Krysten Service who has played the position well and also offensively is batting .318.

If the Sultans are to again vie for the league crown as they have the last couple of years than the freshman will have to keep contributing and also the bottom half of the lineup will have to pick things up. Also, Santana will have to work on getting the timely hit as they have had plenty of opportunities to score runs and put teams away with less than two outs and more times than not have come away with nothing to show.

5. WEST HILLS – The Wolf Pack have played pretty decent ball as of late and have quite a bit of talent. Having won two in a row heading into league play the Pack are led by Ashleigh Hartwig who is batting a tad over .600. She also leads the team in RBI with over 20. The senior is also a defensive stalwart in the field. Another key player is Carly Bursch who does double duty with pitching and hitting. Star Gaylord who also pitches and if she can eat some innings up the Pack will definitely be contenders. She also contributes with the bat. Savannah Henderson the veteran first baseman and Gabby Clippinger will also be key components. Coach Applebaum always has his teams ready to play as they have shown the last couple of years in the playoffs and this year won’t be any different.

The Wolf Pack can score runs as they are averaging 7 runs a contest and if they are going to get back to contending for a league title they will have to play consistent ball and not make errors at inopportune times. They have the talent to do so but have to play like they know how to do so.

 

GROSSMONT VALLEY LEAGUE

The last two season the Valley league has come down to the final game between Helix and El Capitan and both times it’s been Co-Champions. Now, this season Valhalla moves down from the Hills league and could possibly challenge for the league crown. Either way, this portion of the Grossmont league will take about 7-8 wins to win in my opinion.

HELIX – Just like the previous year they tied the El Capitan Vaqueros for the league crown. The Highlanders didn’t lose much from graduation and return pretty much everyone and also include some new faces as well.

Key players include McKenzie Flores who is hitting .488 with 3 HRs and has driven in 14 RBI and is a four year starter who is also a defensive stalwart. Joining her are Erin Brown who is batting .457 and Kasey Castro who is batting .333, both are sophomore returners.  New faces for Helix include sophomore Laurali Patene who is hitting .439 with 2 homeruns and 13 RBIs.

In the circle for the Highlanders is sophomore Zoe Kuhlken who so far is 7-4 on the season with a 3.29 ERA and struck out 43 batters.

With their tougher schedule as they are participating in the Falcon Fiesta T,ournament the Highlanders should be ready for league.

EL CAPITAN – The Vaqueros graduated some veterans off of last year’s squad but return quite a bit as well. Currently, with a record of 6-4-1, the Vaqueros have been in pretty much every game.

Big keys to the Vaqueros is sophomore Alexa Williams who is a dual threat in that she pitches and hits. Offensively she is hitting .458 with 3 homeruns and has 8 RBIs. Bailey Olaveson is another big bat in the Vaqueros lineup who is currently hitting .448 with 6 RBIs and has scored 6 runs. Allyson Von Yokes will be another bat and defensive contributor for the Vaqueros. Both Hannah Davis and Katie Collier will also be key contributors as well for the Vaqueros.

Pitching wise Williams will have to keep up her game and also Kylie Mead will be able to eat up some innings if needed. If the pitching and defense can keep things going they can dethrone Helix and not have another Co-Championship for the third straight year.

VALHALLA – A new challenger this year in the Valley League are the Norsemen who move to the Valley after being in the Hills League the last couple of years. Despite the 4-9 record, the Norsemen have been in pretty much every single game.

Returners include Kennedy Labshere who is a four year starter and is batting over .300 and is also a stalwart at third base for Valhalla, Victoria Villegas who like Labshere is a multi-year starter. She also has been a fixture at her position as well. Villegas and her power as she has a few homeruns this season will be a reason for the success of Valhalla. Another power bat in the lineup is Samantha Green who has hit 4 homeruns and is batting over .400. One of the key components to the go of the offense is Rachael Shelstrom because if she gets on base the offense has a better shot at doing its thing.

Pitching wise Delaney Stettler despite not being overwhelming has the ability to offset opponents and make sure the ball is in play for the defense.

One of the things that will stop the Norsemen from contending will be themselves as the defense has tended to make errors at the worst of spots in games but if they can fix that they will jump up and snatch the league crown which they can do.

MOUNT MIGUEL – The Matadors so far have won three games but have played a tougher schedule this year. Coach Darby will have his squad prepared and if they can get a little pitching and defense I think they can move up.

EL CAJON VALLEY – The Braves have only won one game so far via a forfeit. They will be competitive in their division for playoffs if they make it.

 

CITY-EASTERN

CHRISTIAN – Even though they lost their first league contest I believe they will still win the league. Too much talent on the team not to contend as they only graduated one senior off of last year’s Division III title team.

Silent Rain Espinoza who came within an eye lash of setting the single season CIF record for hits is batting .479 so far and she is one of the better shortstops in the county. Shannon McMahon is also a big bat in the lineup as is Audrey Shebloski who came into her own as a freshman last year. A big contributor so far and is only a freshman is Devyn Krystek who so far is batting .370 and has driven in 9 RBIs.

Pitching wise the Patriots have Ashley Carter who can eat up innings and despite having an ERA over three has the stuff to be dominant and put the Pats in the seat to win. Besides pitching Carter can do damage with the bat as well.  Her counterpart Mallory Steele can give opponents something different when Coach Gentry feels it’s necessary to do so and also can give the Pats innings as well.

The Patriots have shown they can play with the best as they upset the #9 Etiwanda Eagles of the Inland Empire and despite losing played with Ramona. Top to bottom of the Pats lineup is tough and that is the reason why I think they can win their part of the City league this season. They will have to play consistent ball if they are to accomplish the task.

CITY-WESTERN

CATHEDRAL – They have the most dominant pitcher to have pitched in San Diego in the last 15 years in Megan Faraimo. If the Dons can put a run or more on the board they are in good shape. They already have beaten the top teams in Southern California to win the Michelle Carew Classic. I don’t see anyone beating them in league play.

PATRICK HENRY – Despite graduating their big four last season the Patriots still have some talent left on the team.

Savanah Chapman and Lauren Nett are key components as well as Maddie Simmons. Overall the Patriots have shown they can score runs but also have shown that they are still a year away from playing to their potential as well. I think they can surprise some folks and possibly finish in this spot in the league.

Pitching wise H. Jenks is doing a good job and Laila Spracklen will also eat innings when Coach Levinson wants to change things up.

 

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