Alex Vargas has been part of a South County softball dynasty at Bonita Vista.
Poway, the No. 1 team in the San Diego Section preseason rankings, will be tested before the postseason arrives. The Titans, in search of their first section championship since 2002, have 11 games on tap against Open Division teams this spring. Poway’s rugged schedule also includes playing in the always-tough Carew Classic in Orange County.
Now juniors, the Whitley sisters at Madison are quite the 1-2 family punch for the Warhawks. Amanda Whitley is an outfielder who hit .370 with 36 RBIs last spring while Kristen Whitley batted .385 with 22 RBIs as a third baseman-shortstop. That’s 58 RBIs under one roof.
Santana graduated seven players who hit more than .300 and all but 41 innings in the pitching circle, but history indicates the Sultans will contend again. They’ve averaged 26.7 wins per year over the last nine seasons.
Mention Bonita Vista and the first thing that comes to mind is a league title. The Barons have won or shared the last seven league crowns, dating back to 2006 when Eastlake was undefeated in league play to edge them out. The Barons have posted a 158-40-3 record during their league championship seasons.
Senior first baseman-outfielder Courtney Black of Madison is the top returner when it comes to driving in runs. She went from 18 RBIs as a sophomore to 50 RBIs last spring. Only 11 players in section history have been better at the plate. Black is still way off the Warhawks’ record of 69 set by Nicole Clites in 2011.
Circle of change
Some of the county’s top teams last spring have newcomers trying to replace pitching aces. Two-time Division I champion Torrey Pines lost Rachel Nasland. Carlsbad, which lost both times in the finals to Torrey Pines, graduated Shelley Procter. Other schools losing top graduates include El Capitan (Delanie Gourley), Santana (Amber Schisler), San Marcos (Christina Clermont), Francis Parker (Jackie Buechler) and La Jolla Country Day (Christine Campbell).
Mater Dei Catholic is working on a fifth consecutive section championship. The Crusaders have rings from 2010 when they beat Christian, 2011 and ’12 when they beat Madison and 2013 when they blanked Valley Center.
All out in the Open
This will be the first year softball plays with an Open Division in the postseason. In addition to Torrey Pines and Rancho Bernardo, the division will include Carlsbad, San Marcos, Poway, Bonita Vista, West Hills and Westview.