TRIBUNE SOFTBALL TOP TEN
1. Chino Hills (25-3) — On the verge of running the table in the Sierra, you have to give the Huskies credit. I thought the Sierra League champion, whoever it was, would have at least two losses because the league is so competitive. What it shows is that in a tough league Chino Hills is head and shoulders above everyone else. But can they win in the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with the bulls-eye square on its chest?
2. Bishop Amat (19-6) – The Lancers are closing in on an undefeated Del Rey League title, but lost a pair of games to Corona Santiago and Valencia’s West Ranch in Spring Fling tournament games last week. Apparently the Lancers weren’t treating the games like league or CIF playoff games, but the losses dropped them to No. 4 in the D-4 poll. If they’re the fourth-seed, that could mean a potential semifinal game with Chino Hills.
3. St. Lucy’s (19-5) — The sooner the Regents realize that the real prize is a CIF title, the sooner they erase the sour taste of another loss to Chino Hills. But lets get this straight, they don’t win a title or make a playoff run without O’Toole in the circle. Time for experimentation is over, you don’t get second chances in the one-and-done postseason.
4. Duarte (18-3) – There are some sports, like girls basketball and softball, where the Falcons are simply too good for the rest of the league. It must get boring winning so easily, but the Falcons have been in cruise control since February. Their record is so good it’s hard to believe they still can’t crack the top ten poll in Division 5, which isn’t exactly murders row with the exception of La Canada, by far the best team in the division.
5. Los Altos (17-6) — The Conquerors are closing the season in stride, winners of eight straight and the Hacienda League title within reach after recent wins over Bonita and its eight-inning win over West Covina. The Conqs weren’t the pre-season favorite, so a lot of credit has to go to its coaching staff for getting their players to buy in.
6. San Dimas (19-7) — Pitcher Elizabeth Celaya is as hot as anyone, throwing four straight shutouts including the 2-0 shutout over Northview last week that clinched at least a share of the league title, which they can win outright this week. They’re batting over .350 as a team, and in typical Saints fashion, are playing their best ball toward the end of the season, something Don Pollard-coached teams have always done.
7. Ayala (17-10) — With Claremont and St. Lucy’s left, my money is on the Bulldogs to break a third-place tie with Charter Oak and finish third in the Sierra. It’s a big accomplishment for a team that wasn’t expected in the top three when the season started, and they’re a team few would want to meet in the playoffs.
8. Charter Oak (13-8) — The Chargers are locked in a third-place tie with Ayala, both win 4-4 league records. The problem for the Chargers is they finish the season against St. Lucy’s and Chino Hills while Ayala gets Claremont and St. Lucy’s. Advantage, Wolfpack. However, the Chargers might make the playoffs as a wild card even if it finishes fourth.
9. Bonita (15-7) — They struggled at the beginning of the season, found their groove in the middle of it, now they’re struggling again late, losing their Hacienda League title hopes by getting routed by Los Altos. It’s hard to imagine any Hacienda League teams doing well in the D-2 playoffs, which is a tougher road than any of the Sierra League teams have to go through, so struggling late is what it is, the receipe for a first-round exit.
10. South Hills (15-10) — This isn’t the way Britney Rodriguez, Kristen Stewart, Sarah Macias and while she was there, Sydney La Follette, wanted to go out, but it is what it is. They ran out of steam and will miss the playoffs. Few players can say they played in a CIF final, but the Huskies seniors did just that and then some, going to back-to-back finals. There are no other players in the Valley who can say that.