New Cal-Hi Sports Softball Top 20

It’s a new order for the top five as Norco and Amador Valley have to swap spots behind No. 1 Pacifica of Garden Grove.

When the margins of victory between top teams are so close, frequent changes in the rankings are common.

That’s true on the local level in addition to state and national. In Orange County, for example, where the competition is among the best in the country, the pecking order for the local rankings changes every week.

This week’s hottest teams in Orange County – at least coming into the week – were Edison of Huntington Beach and Esperanza of Anaheim. Those teams were up to No. 3 and No. 4 in the county and also were up to No. 5 and No. 9 in the state.

The biggest changes in this week’s rankings were to put Norco back up to No. 2 and to move up previous bubble team Simi Valley in front of previous No. 4 Royal of Simi Valley. The Pioneers beat the Highlanders last week 2-0 and avenged an earlier loss.

(Through games played Monday, April 23)

(Previous ranking in parentheses)

(Writeups also by Paul Muyskens, Harold Abend)

1. (1) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 20-1

While the Mariners didn’t play last week, they are likely getting some good news this week in the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings. A good number of teams ranked in the top 20 lost last week so maybe it was a good time not to play. When Pacifica took the field on Tuesday for an Empire League contest against Cypress it broke a two-week break from games.

2. (3) Norco 20-1

We thought long and hard about dropping the Cougars behind Amador Valley after they lost their first game. The difference between now and then is that FAB 50 national No. 1 Palm Beach Gardens of Florida has suffered its second loss. That clears the path for a one-loss California team like Pacifica or Norco to potentially finish No. 1 in the nation. Winning a CIFSS Division I title, of course, is never easy and both Pacifica and Norco will be tested just to get to the finals. With Emily Lockman leading the way in the circle, the Cougars picked up a pair of shutout wins last week over J.W. North of Riverside and Roosevelt of Eastvale.

3. (2) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 16-0

The Dons have to drop a spot in the state but will stay at No. 4 in the FAB 50 national rankings. If either Pacifica or Norco end the season with just one loss and win the CIF Southern Section Division I title, then that team is going to be No. 1 in the state regardless of what Amador does in the CIF North Coast Section. The Dons stayed perfect this season and ran their East Bay Athletic League record to 6-0 with 7-0, 2-1 and 7-0 wins last week over San Ramon Valley of Danville, California of San Ramon and Livermore, respectively.

4. (5) Lutheran (Orange) 20-4

Jade Vecvanags and Heather Hall each drove in two runs as the Lancers went on the road and picked up an 8-2 victory over JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano. With the regular season nearing an end, they will go on the road this week to face Rosary of Fullerton and Santa Margarita.

5. (11) Edison (Huntington Beach) 19-2

Samantha Cordova and the Chargers got a pair of five-inning wins last week as they defeated Huntington Beach 10-0 and Marina of Huntington Beach 12-2. Jessica Plaza homered during a three-hit performance that saw her drive in three runs in their win over the Vikings. The strong showing in such a strong league helped Edison jump six spots in this week’s rankings. A game with Los Alamitos, however, loomed on Tuesday as these rankings were being done.

6. (8) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 18-2

After 10 days without a game, the Monarchs posted a big 3-1 win over a crosstown West Catholic Athletic League rival Valley Christian, which itself was coming off a big win over previous state-ranked San Benito. Cal-bound Vanessa Alvarez pitched a one-hitter and also scored two runs in a 3-1 victory. Freshman sensation Danielle Bowers doubled and scored the other run.

7. (9) Chino Hills 21-3

It was a busy week for the Huskies as they scored a total of 50 runs in wins over Claremont, St. Lucy's of Glendora, South Hills of West Covina and twice defeating La Quinta. Sophomore Shianne Brannan homered twice and drove in five runs in the doubleheader sweep against the Blackhawks. Beating St. Lucy’s, which was ranked higher in the CIFSS Division III coaches’ poll, also was good for Chino Hills’ ranking.

8. (10) El Diamante (Visalia) 23-1

In the only game scheduled last week, the Miners got a two-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks from junior Sierra Hyland in a 3-0 victory over crosstown Golden West. They only mustered four hits themselves but a single by Stevi Johnson drove in two, including Bayle Jensen who tripled to open the game.

9. (17) Esperanza (Anaheim) 17-6

Returning to Century League action last week, the Aztecs earned their way up the rankings with a 5-0 win over El Modena of Orange and a 7-2 victory over Villa Park. As other teams have faltered in recent weeks, Esperanza’s young team has gained momentum.

10. (NR) Simi Valley 17-3-1

It was coach Heidi Bird and her Pioneer girls that came away with a 2-0 win in the battle for supremacy in Simi Valley against crosstown visiting Royal. A defense that backed up pitcher Lauren Soles was key, as was some timely hitting against Royal ace Nancy Bowling. Soles pitched a one-hitter with three walks and only three strikeouts on a mere 81 pitches. The big hit was a single by freshman Kira Czyrklis that plated both runs. Earlier in the week, in a 15-2 blasting of Calabasas, Czyrklis had two home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored.

11. (4) Royal (Simi Valley) 16-2

The Highlanders will fall in behind their arch-rivals after the 2-0 loss to Simi Valley, and pending a May 4 rematch, this time at home. The loss put a damper on what began and ended as a very good and busy week. It started with a 3-0 win at Westlake followed by a 5-1 win over visiting Agoura. After the setback, ace pitcher Nancy Bowling finished off the week with two identical mercy-shortened 8-0 no-hitters in the two-week Loara Classic over Anaheim Savanna and Rancho Alamitos of Garden Grove.

12. (12) James Logan (Union City) 12-1

After returning from Nevada with the Reed Tournament title, the Colts took another game from Mission Valley Athletic League arch-rival Newark Memorial of Newark, a 5-1 home win in last week’s only game to go with the 3-1 win over the Cougars in Nevada. Raeann Garza pitched a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk.

13. (7) Woodcreek (Roseville) 16-2

Amanda Horbasch drove in three runs as the Timberwolves defeated Nevada Union of Grass Valley 9-1 but they ended last week with their second loss of the season as they were shutout 3-0 at Del Oro of Loomis. Already this week they defeated Rocklin 6-0 as Courtney Johnson drove in three runs and Lexi Wilkerson pitched the shutout.

14. (NR) San Benito (Hollister) 15-1

The Haybaler girls took their lumps in last week’s rankings for the loss to San Jose Valley Christian two weeks ago, but with Megan Sabbatini healthy and in top form in the circle they won five games last week by a combined score of 40-3, including two games in the first week of the Steinbeck Tournament. Thus, coach Scott Smith and his girls get back in the rankings with a bit of a pass for Smith deciding to pitch Sabbatini against Valley Christian despite being sick.

15. (NR) Saugus 17-3

The Centurions have crept up into the CIFSS Division I coaches’ poll since they haven’t lost yet in the rugged Foothill League (same one as Valencia, Canyon of Canyon Country, West Ranch, etc.). Two of the team’s losses also are to higher-ranked Pacifica of Garden Grove and Chino Hills.

16. (15) Mission Viejo 17-5

For the second week in a row, the Diablos’ week ended with a loss as they were on the wrong end of a 4-3 final score on the road against Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita. After trailing 2-0, the Diablos rallied for a 6-3 win over Laguna Hills earlier in the week. The reason Mission Viejo didn’t drop far for the loss is that the team remains high in both the Orange County and CIFSS rankings due to earlier wins and because many other teams also lost.

17. (6) Los Alamitos 15-6

A 6-0 shutout win over Newport Harbor of Newport Beach made sure the Griffins wouldn't have another losing streak but a 5-4 road loss to Fountain Valley made sure the Griffins wouldn't have a winning streak heading into this week. They faced Edison of Huntington Beach on Tuesday in a battle of the top two teams in the Sunset League.

18. (18) Lakewood 16-4

Coach Andy Miramontes’ team could enhance its ranking and possible high seed in the CIFSS Division II playoffs with an avenging win later this week against league rival Millikan of Long Beach.

19. (NR) La Canada 15-2-1

An avenging 4-0 win last week over San Marino is enough to put this team into the top 20. While La Canada is a CIF Southern Section Division V team, it is the No. 1 team in that division and also has notable wins against both Fountain Valley and Marina of Huntington Beach.

20. (NR) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 13-2-1

The Broncos are led by Michigan-bound Sierra Romero, who hit her 39th career homer last week. They notched a key win last week over Mater Dei of Santa Ana and still have just two losses on the season overall.

Dropped Out:

Previous No. 12 Torrey Pines (San Diego); No. 14 West Hills (Santee); No. 16 Redlands; No. 19 St. Lucy’s (Glendora); No. 20 Central (Fresno).

Teams on the Bubble

Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo) 17-5-1, Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 13-3-1, Central (Fresno) 20-5, Clovis West (Fresno) 20-6, Del Oro (Loomis) 13-3-2, Fountain Valley 16-7, Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 16-4, Marina (Huntington Beach) 14-7, Mira Mesa (San Diego) 16-5-1, Newark Memorial (Newark) 12-3, Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 12-1, St. Lucy’s (Glendora) 16-4, St. Mary’s (Stockton) 18-2, Valley Christian (San Jose) 18-4, West Ranch (Valencia) 14-3-1.

Comments or corrections? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.