Senior shortstop Skania Lemus will try to help Mater Dei Catholic win a fourth straight San Diego Section Division IV title.
The landscape has changed dramatically in the North County Conference. There will be new coaches this season at Mt. Carmel (Tony Silveira replaces Ruby Chavez), Westview (Robert Purcell replaces Kelly Peterson), Canyon Crest (Sari-Jane August replaces Angela Ciufo), Mission Hills (Julie Terwilliger replaces Kevin Glatt), San Marcos (Jan Wright replaces Brant Beddow) and Orange Glen (Brenda Langston replaces Laura Quiroz).
Mira Mesa senior catcher Katiyana Mauga is on pace to break the San Diego Section career home run record of 41 held by Oceanside’s Trina Harrison. After belting 16 homers a year ago, Mauga begins her final high school campaign with 36 career home runs. Mauga, who has a scholarship to the University of Arizona, also has 159 career RBIs for the Marauders.
All-state senior catcher Kim Tamayo anchors Mater Dei Catholic, which has won three straight section Division IV titles. Senior shortstop Skania Lemus will also contribute for the Crusaders. The biggest question mark will be pitching, and that rests on the shoulders of sophomore Alexis Morales.
Sultans of swat
Look out for Santana, the Grossmont Valley League co-champion with El Capitan a year ago. Eight senior starters return for the Sultans, led by catcher Kayti Grable (.486), first baseman-pitcher Amber Schisler (.426, 12 HRs) and shortstop Ariel Rasmusson (.426). Schisler posted a 26-7 mark with a 1.73 ERA.
Back for more
Can Torrey Pines repeat? For the first time, the Falcons are the defending section Division I champions. It took extra innings, but they beat Carlsbad for last year’s crown and have an excellent chance heading into this season with Notre Dame-bound pitcher Rachel Nasland back in the circle.
West Hills junior catcher Cortney Horne won the East County battling title with a .560 average a year ago. She committed to Ohio State, but that free ride was withdrawn when the coaching staff was dismissed. Horne packs plenty of punch as proven by her 21 extra-base hits, including 14 doubles. She drove in 33 runs.
Senior center fielder Elontay Collins will lead Serra in what could be one of the Conquistadors’ better seasons in recent years. This might be the region’s surprise team.
Test for Barons
Bonita Vista, which won the section Division II championship a year ago, returns the bulk of its team, but pitching could be a question mark. Shortstop Hannah Flippen and right fielder Ivanna Lopez will lead the offense.