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O.C. teams stepping up in playoffs

OCVARSITY.COM

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

•Yes, Esperanza and Servite lost in the CIF-SS Division 1 volleyball semifinals but they lost to a couple pretty good teams. Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, which defeated Esperanza in four games, is No. 2 in ESPN's boys volleyball national rankings, and Loyola of Los Angeles, which swept Servite in three, is No. 1. It's Loyola vs. Mira Costa in the Division 1 final Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cypress College.

•One county team is in the boys volleyball finals – Corona del Mar. The second-seeded Sea Kings play top-seeded Oak Park in the Division 2 final Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Cypress College.

•To no surprise, University is rolling through the Division 1 boys tennis playoffs. The top-seeded Trojans in the first round beat Redondo Union, 17-1; in the second round, Chaminade of West Hills, 17-1; and San Marino in the quarterfinals, 15-3. They play at fourth-seeded Palos Verdes in the semifinals Tuesday.

•Other county boys tennis teams in the semis: Corona del Mar, in Division 1; Valencia, St. Margaret's and Sage Hill, Division 3; and Garden Grove and La Quinta, Division 4.

•The athletes with the top nine performances, regardless of division, in each event at the CIF-Southern Section track and field finals Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College will advance to the CIF-SS Masters Meet, May 25 at Cerritos College. Exceptions: The top 12 performances in the 800, 1.600, 3.200 and in the field events advance to Masters. The top five finishers in each Masters event advance to the CIF State Championships meet at Clovis, June 1 and 2.

•Parking at Mt. SAC is $5 or $10, depending on how close one wishes to park to the stadium. Admission is $7 for adults, and $5 for students with valid student identification and for children 13 and younger.

•Beginning Monday, ocvarsity.com will let fans vote for their choices for county boys and girls athletes of the year. There will be 24 boys and 24 girls candidates. Now at ocvarsity.com is our "watch list," a compilation of top athletes who we think should be considered but fans are not restricted to voting for athletes on that list.

•Rosary beat Fountain Valley, 2-1, on Tuesday in a Division 1 softball wild-card round game. The Royals' reward – at Pacifica, No. 2 in the state, in the Division 1 first round. Norco is No. 1 in CalHiSports' state rankings. Other county teams in the state top 20: No. 4 Orange Lutheran; No. 9 Esperanza; No. 11 Los Alamitos; No. 13 Mission Viejo; and No. 14 Edison.

•Mission Viejo's hard-hitting first baseman Alyssa Palomino is a niece of former Pacifica star Toni Mascarenas, one of the all-time greats in county softball history. Mascarenas is a Mission Viejo assistant coach.

•Youtube sensation Domingo Ayala, whose baseball instructional videos are a must-see for anyone who likes humor and baseball, was at Mission Viejo's baseball practice Wednesday, the day before the Diablos opened the Division 2 playoffs (video of Ayala's visit is at ocvarsity.com). It was kind of a goof-off day for the team, but Ayala was a good-luck charm for Mission Viejo last year, when he was on the team bus to last year's Division 2 championship game at Dodger Stadium where Mission Viejo was victorious. Another omen of luck – Mission Viejo had 13 losses going into last year's playoffs, the same number they had going into this year's playoffs.

•Orange Lutheran's baseball team usually plays at night for its home games at Hart Park. But Friday's Division 1 first-round playoff game against Moorpark at Hart Park is a 3:15 p.m. game. "We play better in day games, anyway," Lutheran coach Eric Borba said.

•After this first round, split over two days, in baseball, all divisions play on the same day in the second round (Tuesday), the quarterfinals (next Friday), and the semifinals (May 29). The Division 1 semifinals will be played as a doubleheader at Blair Field in Long Beach. Championship games are at Dodger Stadium on June 1 for divisions 1, 2 and 3, and at UC Riverside on June 2 for divisions 4, 5, 6 and 7.

•In the baseball state rankings, Orange Lutheran is No. 1 and Mater Dei is No. 2. They are on opposite halves of the Division 1 playoffs bracket. Pacifica debuted in the state rankings this week, at No. 19.

•In ESPN's national baseball rankings, Orange Lutheran is No. 5 and Mater Dei is No. 7.

•La Quinta's baseball team finished third in the Garden Grove League, which placed the Aztecs in the Division 3 playoffs. But La Quinta had to forfeit several victories for using an ineligible player, thus pushing the Aztecs lower in the standings and dropping them below the sub-.500 overall record required for an at-large berth. It is the first time La Quinta has missed the playoffs since the early 1990s.

•Canyon's baseball team lost in the Division 1 wild-card round, to Riverside Poly, Tuesday. Still, the Comanches qualified for the playoffs for the 23rd year in a row.

•In wild-card round baseball teams in which county teams played non-county teams, county teams were 13-7 against non-county opponents.

•The Trinity League has named its baseball player of the year award the Cory Hahn Award, in honor of the former Mater Dei player, the 2010 county player of the year, who suffered a spinal injury during a game while playing for Arizona State last year. Appropriate.

•We have been informed that for the first time since the school opened in 1957, Rancho Alamitos won multiple league championships in boys sports. The Vaqueros won Garden Grove League titles in football, boys basketball, baseball and water polo. The school's softball team also won the Garden Grove League championship.

•Another change in the South roster for the Orange County football all star game this summer – Santa Ana Valley's James Mohr, a defensive lineman who was Orange League defensive player of the year in 2011, replaces Woodbridge All-County defensive lineman Kyle Kelley, who like plenty of other university-bound seniors will take some summer school classes. Kelley is on his way to Arizona.

•Villa Park football coach Dusan Ancich has compiled a more challenging nonleague schedule for 2012 than the one the Spartans had in 2011. They will play Edison in a road game on Sept. 6.

•Laguna Beach junior running back Drake Martinez is getting plenty of recruiting attention. He just received a scholarship offer from San Diego State.

•Sam Bush, a 6-foot-5 and 290-pound sophomore offensive lineman, will transfer from Newport Harbor, where he was All-Sunset League second team this past football season, to Mater Dei at then end of this school year, his father Blaine Bush said. The father said there was no disenchantment with Newport Harbor or its football program, or with Newport Harbor coach Jeff Brinkley and staff. He said his son wants to play against the best competition possible, and the Sunset League's move from the Pac-5 Division to the Southwest Division prompted Sam Bush to want to be at a Pac-5 school so Mater Dei is the destination.

•Mater Dei boys basketball also added an impact player. Michael Cage Jr., son of former Clippers star Michael Cage, is a 6-foot-8, 200-pound eighth-grader who will enroll at Mater Dei, his mother Jodi confirmed via email. Michael Cage Jr. is ranked by Prospect Central as one of the top prospects nationally for the class of 2016.


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