SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS: Ladies of the diamond begin their title quests …

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

The Rio Hondo League softball race was rough.

So rough that it cost two-time reigning CIF-Southern Section champion La Canada a berth in this season’s playoffs. So rough that no league team earned a seeded spot in the Division 4 playoffs. So rough that Monrovia, which finished in a three-way for second, must face a No. 4 seed Thursday.

“We kind of had a taste of everything, including turmoil at the end,” Monrovia coach David Guzman said. “We’ve gone through it all already. That will make it definitely interesting.”

The Wildcats tied for second with La Canada and San Marino. La Canada, which won the last two CIF-SS Division 5 titles, finished with a sub-.500 record, thanks to its tough nonleague tournament schedule and was ineligible to apply for an at-large berth.

The draw was not entirely kind to the league with Monrovia (14-9) playing at No. 4 seed Dos Pueblos (21-3) in Thursday’s first round. San Marino (15-7-1) will play host to Ventura in a wild-card game today. League champion Temple City (13-13) will play host to Garden Grove on Thursday. La Canada, with back-to-back losses to San Marino last week, finished 13-14.

“We’re used to going in and have pitching battles,” Guzman said. “Hopefully we have the kind of weapons than can get runs across.

“We’re battle-tested. We’re used to and ready to face small ball with teams like Temple City and great pitching against San Marino’s (Michelle) Floyd, who was tough all year. We’re used to one-run games.”

In all, 14 west Valley teams are in the playoffs. Seven, including San Marino, must advance out of today’s wild-card round.

Arcadia will play host to San Gorgonio and La Salle will play host to Crescenta Valley in Division 3, Gabrielino is at Culver City in Division 4, Morro Bay is at Ramona Convent and Barstow at Marshall in Division 5 and Westridge is at Desert Christian in Lancaster in Division 6.

Olympic League champion Maranatha also drew a Division 4 home game. The Minutemen will face the Serrano/Jurupa Valley winner.

In Division 6, four west Valley entrants drew home games. Lone Pine is at Horizon League champion Alverno, St. Anthony plays at Prep League champion Rio Hondo Prep, California Lutheran at San Gabriel Mission and Twentynine Palms at Pasadena Poly.

The seven division tournament quarterfinals are May 23, with semifinals on May 28 and finals on May 31 or June 1 at Irvine’s Manning Stadium.