Softball: Monrovia should be 3-0 in RHL … no, really …

Think about it … Monrovia (7-2, 2-1) gave up seven runs in the first inning against South Pasadena in the Rio Hondo League opener last week. The Wildcats also committed six errors in that inning. “We just looked flat,” Monrovia coach Randy Medina said. “They were mad.” And why wouldn’t they be mad considering how the game ended. Monrovia settled down and gave up only one run the rest of the game, and the Wildcats scored two runs. Take away those seven runs in the first and Monrovia wins, 2-1 instead of losing, 8-2. “That was a game we look back and say ‘That’s an inning we’re not going to duplicate again,’” Medina said. “That’s not us. It’s so uncharacteristic of what we’ve done.” Monrovia shook up the Rio Hondo League when it stunned top-ranked La Canada, 2-0, on Tuesday. The Wildcats went with pitcher Cori Williams for the third time in five days. She helped Monrovia to back-to-back wins over South Pasadena on Monday and Tuesday against La Canada (7-1, 1-1), the top-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 poll. Monrovia’s stunner started in the fourth inning when Nikki Guzman drew a walk. Kelli Eggleston pinch ran and was waved home after Brooke Cowell’s double to right. The throw home was bobbled, giving more than enough time for Eggleston to touch the plate and break a scoreless tie. Cowell took off to third on the play, but the throw bounced into left field, allowing Cowell to score and make it 2-0. Schae Simpson, who relieved Williams in the sixth, got into a jam when she walked La Canada’s Anna Edwards to load the bases. But the threat ended when Simpson got the next batter to ground out to the shortstop and seal the upset. “Working to have a consistent game,” Monrovia coach Randy Medina said. “It was what the girls have been wanting. “We’re excited about the opportunities that this win will open up for us.”

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Baseball: Gabrielino avoids 0-2 start in Mission Valley League; are the Eagles back on the right track?

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OF WEDNESDAY’S ARROYO-GABRIELINO GAME

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL – Mark Roche threw his glove in disgust as he walked into the visiting dugout.

The Arroyo High School pitcher had just given up back-to-back singles to Gabrielino in the fourth inning on Wednesday. The first, by Vince Albelo, tied the Mission Valley League game.

“Our pitcher had a little sore arm there, so we kind of had to make the change,” Arroyo coach D.J. MacKinnon said. “That wasn’t the plan. It’s early in the year. We don’t want to do anything that’s going to prolong the injury. There are a lot more games to be played.”

Roche’s arm was not sore at the beginning of the game, MacKinnon said, and when the switch was made his arm didn’t appear to be sore. It appeared as if MacKinnon was just being safe by sending David Guerrero to the mound in replacing a battling pitcher.

Guerrero induced John Moreno to hit the ball in the infield for an apparent third out. But third baseman Roman Davales’ throw was high and Albelo scored from second base to break the tie.

Sophomore Brendan Campbell then hit a two-run triple and Gabrielino escaped with a 6-4 victory. The Eagles, the three-time reigning league champions, avoided an 0-2 start in league play.

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Baseball: Hernandez is the kind of guy Keppel needs

In just the last few years, it seems like Keppel’s made some pretty good hires. First, it started with football coach Bobby Madrid taking the reigns, and now it’s a young but enthusiastic Houston Hernandez, 25, in charge of turning around the struggling Aztecs. The former St. Paul star is looking to inject some stability and tradition to a program that’s won only seven of its last 100 games…

By Andrew J. Campa, Staff Writer

ALHAMBRA – At 25 years of age, new Mark Keppel High School baseball coach Houston Hernandez is full of zest and zeal.

The La Mirada native resides in a city where baseball is big and played at a high school in St. Paul, where excellence was not an elective.

“We always expected to be in the mix at St. Paul,” said Hernandez, a 2002 alumnus. “We had a streak of something like 20 years of finishing with a better than .500 record.

“How many schools can say that?”

Hernandez reached the postseason all three of his varsity years and even helped the Swordsmen split the Del Rey League title with Bishop Amat in 2000.

His younger brother Estevan Hernandez is a former Whittier Daily News Player of the Year at catcher while his sister Vanessa Hernandez was a solid softball outfielder.

All this makes Hernandez’s choice for his first head coaching job at Keppel somewhat curious.

The Aztecs have struggled lately as Hernandez is the program’s third coach in six years.

Over the last five years, the Aztecs played 100 games and won seven.

During that same time, Keppel has triumphed in 2 of 75 Almont League contests.

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BREAKING NEWS: PHS rallies from 6-0 deficit, wins 9-7

Burbank scored six runs in the first three innings, but if it thought the game was over Burbank sure had another thing coming. Pasadena’s Robert Lain needed only one pitch to hit a grand slam over the center field wall and the Bulldogs added four more in the sixth to cap a remarkable come-from-behind 9-7 win over Burbank on Tuesday afternoon in the Pacific League opener for both schools. William Yost started the two-out, five-run rally with a single to center. Andrew Phillips followed suit with another single to center and Chris Rucker’s RBI single brought home Yost to start the rally and make it 6-1. Chris Klein got hit by a pitch to load the bases, that’s when Lain came to the plate and, to say the least, made things interesting. Ivew Brown started the sixth with a single that rolled by the pitcher and took a bounce off the mound. He beat the throw to second. Phillips singled to right and Chris Rucker’s RBI single to right field scored Brown to make it 6-6. Klein loaded the bases again with a bunt that got past Burbank pitcher Chase Mersola. The throw to first was not in time. Lain, again facing a bases loaded situation, hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Phillips for the winning run. Kevin Winder put the icing on the cake with a single to right field, scoring Rucker and Klein for a 9-6 lead. Klein picked up his first win in two appearances. He walked and gave up a hit to the first two batters in the seventh, had two fielder’s choice for the first two outs, allowing Mersola to score and make it 9-7. Klein got Ryan Favor to ground out to second for the final out. Pasadena showed grit. It took longer than expected, but the bats finally came alive when confidence sunk in. Burbank pitcher Taylor McCauley perhaps played an inning too long. He had given up only two hits heading into the fifth. It wasn’t until midway through the sixth when McCauley was replaced.

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Baseball Rankings: Nothing changes in the top 10, but Alhambra and Monrovia close to toppling St. Francis

STAR-NEWS RANKINGS

1. St. Francis (6-2) – St. Francis beat everyone in the Elks Tournament, lost to Saugus and Crescenta Valley by relatively close margins. We’ll see how strong the Knights really are after they open Mission League play against Crespi today. Crespi is the top-ranked team in Division 2. How strong is the Mission League you ask? Loyola, also from the Mission League, is ranked No. 2 in Division 2.

2. Alhambra (7-1) — Moors found their form after losing to St. Francis in the Elks Tournament final. After soundly beating Kalani in a doubleheader last week, Alhambra went on the road and beat a good Bell Gardens team behind the strong arm of Jonathan Beltran and solid effort at the plate from Greg Saldate.

3. Monrovia (8-1) – I’ll be the first to admit I wondered the validity of the Wildcats pitching rotation. But senior pitcher Aaron Murphee is quickly proving he can carry the load and the tag of a true ace. He shut out South Pasadena in the Rio Hondo League opener, struck out nine and allowed only five hits.

4. Arcadia (4-2) — Apaches get a handful of cupcakes to open the Pacific League season, then head into the Apache Invitational before resuming league against the big boys.

5. Maranatha (3-5) — The Minutemen may have pitching depth but we’ve seen no evidence that relievers can maintain leads. There are some question marks after Dylan Covey, and for the first time in a long time, things won’t get easy come Alpha League play.

6. Pasadena Poly (5-2) – The Panthers have a long layoff because of spring break. No tournaments mean they don’t play until April when they resume Prep League action at Rio Hondo Prep on April 1.

7. Temple City (3-3) — The Rams got a confidence win over Blair. It gets gradually harder from that point forward as San Marino and Monrovia wait on deck.

8. Pasadena (5-2) — Bulldogs split a doubleheader vs. Valley Christian. They get a tough test today against Burbank in the Pacific League opener. I’ll be at that game.

9. La Salle (4-4) — Split a doubleheader vs. Maranatha over the weekend. Covey proved to be too much and the Lancers rebounded in the second game. La Salle travels for a big game Friday at St. Paul.

10. South Pasadena (4-4) — The Tigers suffered close losses to Monrovia. What does that say? It says South Pasadena is here to contend. My money’s on the Tigers to finish second behind Monrovia. San Marnio, Temple City and La Canada have their work cut out.

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Softball Rankings: La Caada still the team to beat

STAR-NEWS RANKINGS

1. La Caada (7-1) — The Spartans are clearly the best team in the area and the team to beat in the West San Gabriel Valley. They’re the only team in our area ranked No. 1 in their respective CIF-Southern Section Division 5 top 10 poll. I hear Friday’s game against South Pasadena will be played under the lights, but the schedule on MaxPreps says 3:30 p.m. I have no problem with late games, but from a reporter’s perspective, covering night games can sometimes be a potential nightmare with deadlines and all.

2. La Salle (6-3) — It was fun watching Allie Forillo dominate St. Monica in the Camino Real League opener last week. You know the deal. She struck out 15 and came within two outs of a perfect game, but settled for a no-no. Colleen McWilliams was clutch as always, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. A name to look out for is Katie Smither. The freshman went 2-for-2 with a triple, a single and a walk. She also scored three runs.

3. San Marino (6-4) — Michelle Floyd is the real deal. If anyone really doubted that, then her perfect game last week certainly settled the case.

4. South Pasadena (4-3) — The Tigers opened Rio Hondo League play with a dominant 8-2 win over Monrovia. The rankings reflect until Saturday, so we didn’t take in consideration that the Wildcats returned the favor Monday with a 3-1 win. Nevertheless, there’s a hint in the air that we’ll see more parity in the Rio Hondo League. After La Caada, of course.

5. Mayfield (3-1) — I’ll get my first chance at watching Mayfield on Thursday vs. Maranatha. Is Clancy pitching? Either way, I’m curious to see what kind of supporting cast the Cubs now have.

6. San Gabriel Mission (5-1) — San Gabriel Mission’s schedule doesn’t seem all that daunting. The Pioneers lost to San Gabriel, but there’s no update on their game vs. Alhambra. The schedule gets easier come league play.

7. Maranatha (4-3) — The Minutemen have a tough challenge in a rematch against Marymount today. They’ll play two more nonleague games (Mayfield, L.A. Baptist) before opening Alpha League play against Marshall next week.

8. Temple City (5-5) — We knew we were going to see great things from Jessica Loicano (.357, two home runs, two doubles, one triple), but we’re also seeing something special develop with junior Jessica Flores, who leads the team in batting average (.469).

9. Monrovia (6-2) – The big test comes today vs. La Caada. Win or lose, it’ll be a good barometer for the Wildcats to use and see how far they’ve come along.

10. Arcadia (3-4) — The Apaches open Pacific League play at home against Hoover today. Sam Miller continues to tear it up.

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Softball: Morgan Barchan hits first career HR in college

In an effort to keep you guys up to date with our former stars, we will post updates here and there when information is made readily available. First up, former Arcadia star Morgan Barchan. The Southern Illinois freshman had a sensational game last week, batting 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in the Salukis’ 8-0 win over Evansville in Missouri Valley Conference play.

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Softball: South Pasadena could make things interesting

It’s always fun when a team takes the next step and goes from living in the shadows to contender. You have to be impressed with what South Pasadena did on Friday. The Tigers upended Monrovia, 8-2, in the Rio Hondo League opener for both schools. Indiana-bound Shelby Gogreve is arguably the area’s best infielder. Batting leadoff for the Tigers, Gogreve was batting .615 with a .722 on base percentage and a 1.462 slugging percentage. She has two home runs, three doubles and a triple heading into Friday’s game. But it’s not just Gogreve making waves. Rochester College-bound Courtney Dunlap is a senior utility player batting .533 with a 1.267 slugging percentage as she plays third, first, catcher and DP, with a baffling four triples and three doubles. Cynthia Ream-Garcia is a freshman to keep an eye on. She is batting .333 playing first base and is kind of a force of nature. Marrissa Baca is pitching good enough to win most games with a current 2.45 era, but it is a little scary how good she could be if she could become a little more consistent. If I had to pick a softball game of the week, without a doubt it’s South Pasadena at La Caada on Friday.

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