By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer
The preseason has ended and the real test begins today for the Del Rio League’s six softball teams.
Two-time defending league champion La Serna opens its title defense at home against Santa Fe. The Lancers (8-6), who went 8-2 in league last season, have won three of their last four games.
California (15-3) starts league play riding an 11-game winning streak. The Condors, who tied El Rancho for second place at 7-3 last season, open on the road against Whittier (3-10) at York Field. The Cardinals are hoping for better results after finishing 2-8 last season in league.
El Rancho (6-6) will visit Pioneer (6-7), which will try to rebound from last year’s 0-10 league finish. The host Titans have a four-game winning streak, including Friday’s 4-1 victory over San Pedro in the Artesia Tournament.
La Serna last played on March 28, when it defeated Sonora 7-2. The Lancers take on a Santa Fe team that posted a 6-4 league mark a year ago. The Chiefs (4-3) are coming off an April 2 doubleheader sweep of Downey, winning 4-3 and 7-4.
Junior midfielder Molly Bourne has played a central role in La Serna’s offense, which has scored 87 runs. Bourne, who has a .523 batting average, has a team-high 19 RBIs.
Santa Fe features junior second baseman Amanda Flores, who is hitting .417 and has driven in five runs.
The Condors, who won the Savanna Tournament with an 8-1 victory over Simi Valley on March 30, hope to maintain their momentum.
“It’s nice to be winning,” California coach Jim Kruse said. “That all changes when league starts.
“Our first goal was to win a tournament. Our next goal is to win league, and we start on that goal (today).”
Kruse knows navigating through league play is not going to be easy.
“It’s always tough,” said Kruse, whose Condors are ranked No. 4 in CIF-Southern Section Division 3. “We’re not looking past anybody. Most of the team are juniors, so the majority of them have been here for two years. They’re really playing well together.
“I hope they could keep it going. They’ve been on a roll.”
California is led by junior Trisha Trujillo, who has a 14-3 record and 1.02 ERA. Trujillo has two home runs and 14 RBIs.
El Rancho posted a 2-2 record at last weekend’s Whittier Christian Tournament, where it finished fourth.
Freshman catcher-third baseman Janessa Lozano has made an instant impact with a .406 average and 10 RBIs.
ALMONT LEAGUE OPENERS
Montebello and Schurr also start their league seasons today. Schurr (3-10) will visit Alhambra (7-3) while the Oilers (5-10) travel to Keppel.
Both games are slated to begin at 3:30 p.m.