November 30, 2022


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Chino Hills is ranked No. 1 in nation for softball

When it comes to high school softball, few states rival California. If you’re No. 1 in California, you’re probably No. 1 in the nation. Chino Hills is starting out ranked No. 1 by because it has seven players committed to colleges, led by pitcher Kendall Mangel, who has a 58-9 career record and is headed to Nebraska.

“Even in scrimmages, she wants to win all the time. I love it,” said first-year coach Kim Ensey. “She has that bulldog mentality. She throws hard.”

Most of Chino Hills’ top players have taken part in out-of-state competitions with travel teams during the summer and fall and will be ready when games begin March 19 in counties that meet the COVID-19 case threshold. Third baseman Kayla Chavez, a Minnesota signee, is considered the team’s top hitter.

“Everyone has been able to stay safe,” Ensey said. “They’ve been making smart decisions.”

Ensey, a former head coach at Huntington Beach Edison and Cerritos, is looking forward to playing against the top teams in the Southern Section, such as Norco, Los Alamitos and Cerritos Gahr.

“I love competing at the highest levels,” Ensey said.

More baseball talent: San Juan Capistrano JSerra has put together an impressive group of shortstops in recent years, starting with four-year starter Chase Strumpf (UCLA), followed by Royce Lewis (MLB No. 1 draft pick in 2017), Michael Curialle (UCLA) and current shortstop Cody Schrier (UCLA signee).

Now the Lions are preparing two sophomores to take over — 6-foot-4 JJ Hollis and Lou Fujiwara, a foreign-exchange student from Japan who played in the Little League World Series.

“He’s an absolute magical wizard,” coach Brett Kay said of Fujiwara’s fielding prowess.

Vin Scully is happy: Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully is celebrating after his granddaughter, Grace Luderer, signed with Seattle University. She’s a star softball pitcher for Woodland Hills Louisville.

Final year as coach: Former major leaguer Jack Wilson has announced 2021 will be his final year as baseball coach at Thousand Oaks. He took over the program in 2017. This season’s Lancers team could be his best with the trio of Max Muncy, Roc Riggio and Charlie Saum.

Water polo sprint: The water polo season for Southern Section boys’ and girls’ teams began on Friday and will end on March 20. “It’s a sprint,” Studio City Harvard-Westlake boys’ coach Brian Flacks said.

He intends to have his team play three to four games a week as a tribute to the seniors. But his team is loaded with outstanding freshmen and sophomores. Seven players are members of the Olympic youth national team.

Lacrosse debut: Lacrosse’s first year as an official Southern Section sport was delayed in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now the sport finally gets its chance with the first matches scheduled for March 12.

Soccer rivalry: With playoffs uncertain because of coronavirus restrictions, L.A. Cathedral soccer Arturo Lopez is hopeful a match against rival. L.A. Loyola can be scheduled as a reward to the seniors. “It’s definitely going to happen,” Lopez said.