High-SchoolCalifornia: Huntington Beach Marina
February, 25, 2012
By Mark Tennis | ESPN.com
Mark Tennis/ESPNHSPitcher Sarah Shadinger (far right) is one of many top players returning at Camarillo, which won 2011 CIF Southern Section Div. II title.Important announcement from Cal-Hi Sports | Archived Cal-Hi Sports content
Close call to start with Archbishop Mitty just in front of Los Alamitos. With a state packed so tightly with top teams, however, it’s never surprising if an unheralded squad in the preseason breaks through.
It doesn’t take much for a very good high school softball team to get to an elite level among the best in California.
If a team has an ace pitcher and many top position players returning from the previous season, just getting that one extra bat in the lineup or that one great defensive player up the middle can be the difference between an early exit in the playoffs and going all the way to win a major section championship.
It’s also takes very little in the form of an injury or the loss of a key player, such as a table-setting leadoff hitter, to cause an elite team to begin losing 2-1 games instead of winning them.
This is why California softball preseason rankings in particular are so hard to do. Yes, we do check more than 100 teams to evaluate lost starters, returning standouts and strength of schedule. But in the end, there are razor-thin differences between many of these teams and not much separates No. 1 from No. 20 and No. 21 from No. 40.
Here are the complete preseason top 20 state rankings (listed with last year’s records)
1. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 28-3
The Monarchs have been near the top of the state softball rankings for many years, including a No. 1 finish in the state and nation in 2009, and should have one of their best teams this spring. Cal-bound pitcher-hitter Vanessa Alvarez, who had a 0.80 ERA and had .333 batting average, is among many returning starters. Super sophomore Jazmyn Jackson, one of the top prospects nationally in her class and almost the State Freshman of the Year, also is back. She hit .485 and drove in 32 runs. Another top talent is junior infielder Kiersten Nordin. She was an all-league sophomore in 2011 with a .333 batting average.