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Savanna enjoying hectic, challenging month

STAFF WRITER

It’s been a busy month for Savanna coach Mike Willey.

The Rebels skipper put on the Savanna Showcase the first weekend of March, and Saturday he’ll have successfully run his second major preseason tournament of the month.

If his Rebels can navigate their way through a loaded winners bracket, however, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Savanna (10-0) will play Trinity League power Santa Margarita (10-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Yorba Regional Park in the semifinals of the Savanna Tournament. Rosary (8-3) will play California High of Whittier (7-5-1) in the other semi, with the winners squaring off in the final at 7:30 p.m.

For the tournament’s host school, it’s an opportunity to compete with some of Southern California’s perennial softball powers.

“I think right now we’re viewing this as the best team we’ve played all season,” Willey said of the Eagles. “We really want to play teams of this caliber and we don’t get many opportunities to do it.”

As winner of the last 11 Orange League titles, the nonleague portion of the season has been where the Rebels challenge themselves against teams from some of the county’s power leagues. Already this season, Savanna owns wins over Troy (Freeway), Laguna Hills (Sea View), Newport Harbor (Sunset), Valencia (Empire) and JSerra (Trinity).

With Santa Margarita going toe-to-toe with top-ranked Mission Viejo earlier in the week, the Rebels view today’s meeting as an opportunity to see where they are in the county’s softball landscape.

“The girls are really excited, more so than any game we’ve had so far,” Willey added. “We really respect Santa Margarita. They come from a great league. But this weekend is just a huge opportunity for us. Of the four teams left, you’ve got us, two Trinity League teams and what I consider a perennial powerhouse in California. All these teams have some sort of CIF championship type experience.”

KATELLA TOURNEY CONTINUES

After pool play kicked off last weekend, the Katella Tournament will also continue play Saturday with one team having already secured its spot in today’s championship game.

Fullerton (10-3) will await the winner of the Loara-Mira Costa game in the finals that will be played at 2:30 p.m. at Katella High.

The Indians opened the tourney in dominant fashion last Saturday, topping Calvary Chapel, 4-2, before easing past Orange High, 25-2. Eight Fullerton players finished with at least three hits against the Panthers, but no other player was quite as impressive as Samantha Gutierrez.

The Indians junior went 4-for-4 against Calvary Chapel and followed that up with a 3-for-5 performance against Orange, in which she drove in four runs.

If Fullerton meets Loara in the final, it would pit two of North County’s top programs off against one another. The Saxons (6-5) have played an extremely tough preseason schedule to this point, and boast two of the top players in the county in pitcher Vanessa Ledesma and shortstop Kaitlyn Eveland.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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