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BILL ALKOFER , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Mater Dei shortstop Neli Casares-Maher and teammates take on No. 5 Orange Lutheran on Tuesday.

Softball notes: League races start to heat up

STAFF WRITER

The biggest week of the softball season is here.

Biggest week to date, that is.

While nothing will ultimately be determined over the next five days, there’s no shortage of top-notch showdowns that will have a major say in how league races play out over the next several weeks.

On Tuesday alone, four top-10 teams will square off: No. 9 Capistrano Valley at No. 1 Mission Viejo in the South Coast League, and No. 4 Mater Dei at No. 5 Orange Lutheran in the Trinity League.

“It’s the grind of the Trinity League,” Monarchs coach Tia Meza said Thursday, minutes after her squad defeated Santa Margarita in nine innings. “It never ends.”

Since 2009, either Mater Dei or Orange Lutheran has finished atop the league standings and there’s a good chance that trend continues this season. Both teams enter the week 2-0 in league.

Also on Tuesday, No. 3 La Habra will be at Fullerton against an Indians team that owns wins over Rosary and Santa Margarita. In the Empire League today, No. 7 Pacifica is at Cypress, and their games more often than not determine the eventual league champ.

“It’s so wide open this year,” Centurions coach John Felicetti said of the league race. “You’ve got four or five teams that could make a push. So it’s going to be interesting. I hope the girls are ready to play.”

The fun continues Thursday with what is shaping up to be the game of the week - No. 2 Los Alamitos is at No. 6 Huntington Beach in a Sunset League game. The Oilers have a 12-game winning streak, but the Griffins have been as consistent as anyone in the county since day one.

CANYON ON THE RISE

Canyon made the largest leap in the county rankings this week, jumping from No. 24 up to No. 13 after earning a pair of quality wins against Foothill, 4-0, and Villa Park, 10-1.

Comanches freshman pitcher Miranda Stoddard tossed what was arguably the best game of her young high school career against Foothill, striking out six and allowing only five hits. Junior outfielder Rylie Seip went 2 for 4 in the game and was a terror on the basepaths, swiping three bags.

Against Villa Park two days later, Canyon’s lineup racked up 15 hits to overwhelm their Century Conference rivals. Junior Taryn Young went 3 for 4 with a home run and two triples. Young drove in two runs and scored three.

The win put the Comanches at 9-9 overall as they head into what appears to be a wide-open Crestview League race.

The Comanches open league play against El Modena on Tuesday before a meeting with Yorba Linda on Thursday.

CAREW UPDATE

The championship schedule for the rain-interrupted Michelle Carew Classic was finalized last week, and three county teams are left in contention for the coveted crown.

Huntington Beach advanced to the championship by topping California of Whittier, 8-0, on Wedneday. The Oilers will play the winner of the Orange Lutheran-Mission Viejo semifinal.

The semifinal will be held April 29 at Canyon at 3:30 p.m. The tournament final is slated for April 30 at Canyon at 11 a.m.

Mission Viejo is the tournament’s reigning champs.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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