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COMMUNITY SPORTS: Looking back at abbreviated spring athletic season

By Loren Kopff • @Loren Kopff on Twitter

The Coronavirus pandemic has curtailed the spring athletic season for area high schools, leaving many to wonder if and when events will be resumed. While no official word has been made as of this past Tuesday from the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body that oversees all high schools in the state, it still doesn’t look good as school districts have extended the possible return dates when high schoolers could return.

Originally, the ABC Unified School District was set to return on Monday but the earliest that students can come back to their respective schools has been extended to May 5. The Norwalk/La Mirada Unified School District is expected to return on Apr. 17 while no word has been made on Valley Christian High’s return. V.C. had scheduled to be on Spring Break this upcoming week.

The boys volleyball season is scheduled to end on Apr. 29 with softball and baseball seasons the next two days respectively. The other spring sports are to conclude their seasons anywhere from May 1 to May 9 with postseason events running from Apr. 23 (Ojai Tournament for boys tennis) to June 3 (CIF State Championships for boys golf).

According to a Mar. 17 media release by the CIF State Office, the CIF has not made any decisions relating to the remainder of the spring sporting events. The state and the 10 Section Commissioners will have a meeting on Apr. 3 where hopefully, a final decision will be made one way or another, the statement said.

Meanwhile, here is a recap of the area baseball and softball high school teams as far as how they were doing prior to the suspension/cancellation of their seasons and how many seniors each team has as well as that school’s graduation date.

ARTESIA: Graduation is June 10

The baseball team was hoping to notch more than one victory in a season for the first time since 2017 and was halfway there following an 8-0 win in the first game of the season. But the Pioneers lost their next five games, scoring a total of 10 runs and were shutout twice. The last game played was on Mar. 3 and Artesia High would have visited Whitney High today to conclude the first week of 605 League action. There are seven seniors, five of whom are returners, on a team of 20.

The softball team began the season with three straight wins but was 5-3 when the schools were shut down. Artesia’s last contest was a 12-0 loss to Edison High on Mar. 7 in a Santa Fe Tournament game. The Lady Pioneers, who were building of the program’s third winning campaign in the last four seasons, graduate five seniors on a team of 13 and were expected to be one of two teams to vie for a 605 League title this season. The league opener was to be on Mar. 17 at Cerritos High and its next game would have been Tuesday at Oxford Academy.

CERRITOS: Graduation is June 9

One of the main stories the past few seasons has been the rise of the Cerritos baseball team and the Dons were on their way to another successful campaign before everything was put on hold. Cerritos was 5-3 following an 8-6 win at Downey High and had won three of five games in the Newport Elks Tournament.

The program went 21-8 last season, the program’s best mark in over two decades and has not had a losing record in five straight seasons entering 2020. Cerritos, the defending 605 League champions, which was scheduled to play a doubleheader at Valley Christian High on Mar. 20, would have hosted John Glenn High today. The Dons also had a scheduled home doubleheader with Villa Park High on Apr. 11 and an appearance in the Central Coast Tournament (Apr. 15-18) originally scheduled, among other games. The Dons graduate 15 of 22 players.

The softball team, plagued with injuries, snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against Norwalk High in its last game played. The Lady Dons were to participate in the Torrance National Tournament the week after the victory before beginning league play and would have hosted Glenn today. Other notable games would have been against La Mirada High and an appearance in the Woodbridge Tournament. Cerritos has not had a losing campaign since 2016 and has finished below .500 seven times in over two decades prior to this season. The Lady Dons graduate four out of a team of 20 players.

GAHR: Graduation is June 10

The baseball team was trying shrug off the cobwebs of last season’s 13-16-1 record, the program’s first losing mark since 2008 and was 3-6 prior to a home meeting with Lynwood High on Mar. 10 in its San Gabriel Valley League opener. Gahr High was blanked in its first three games but proceeded to allow 19 runs over the next six games. Still, the Gladiators were seeking their sixth straight league crown and 15thin their last 22 seasons.

Gahr was to have played in the National Classic from Apr. 4-9 and had several games left in the El Dorado Steakhouse Tournament, plus a road game at St. John Bosco High, among others, left to play. Gahr graduates 12 out of a team of 20.

The most dominant softball team in the area was off to another stellar start until play was halted. The Lady Gladiators had won all six games they had played, each one by a run, but was ranked sixth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll. The program has averaged 24 wins the past five seasons and was seeking its seventh straight league title.

When games were shut down, Gahr was in the middle of the Torrance National Tournament and was slated to play Suburban League powerhouse La Mirada on Mar. 18. By now, Gahr would have played three of 10 league games. In addition, the Lady Gladiators, with only three seniors on a team of 18 players, was also slated to play in the Michelle Carew Classic from Apr. 1-4.

JOHN GLENN: Graduation is June 1

Following six straight winning seasons under former head coach Jack Brooks, five of which resulting in playoff appearances, the baseball program was going through an overhaul with a new coach and a relatively new team  The result was a 1-4 start with the lone win coming against Firebaugh High on Feb. 27. The Eagles last played on Mar. 3 and was blanked in two of their four losses. Glenn was to have hosted Norwalk High on Mar. 12 then be off until its 605 League opener against Cerritos. The Eagles were not scheduled to play any other non-league games and have five seniors on a team of 15 players.

The softball team was going through another sluggish start, winless through four games and blanked in its first two games while allowing 27 runs in the process. The Lady Eagles currently hold the longest playoff drought of the eight area teams (29 seasons) and have not had a winning season since 2004. The Lady Eagles last played on Mar. 5 and was to visit Valley Christian High on Mar. 12 in their final non-league game.

LA MIRADA: Graduation is May 29

The baseball team was on its way to another stellar season, winning six of its first eight games and being ranked fifth in Division 1. The lone losses for the Matadors have been to Orange Lutheran High on Feb. 19 (2-0) and Ayala High on Feb. 29 (6-3) in the championship game of the Loara Tournament. La Mirada swept a doubleheader from Lakewood High last time out on Mar. 5 and the pitching staff has shutout three opponents. Seniors Jared Jones and Memo Pacheco each have a complete game shutout. The team was scheduled to go to Arizona for the Coach Bob Invitational Mar. 18-21 before beginning Suburban League play in which the Matadors were to host Bellflower High today. Also scheduled was an appearance in the Boras Classic Apr. 14-17. Of the 26 players on the team, 15 of them are seniors.

After a 3-1 start to the season, the softball team lost four straight games and eventually was sitting at 8-6 when games were put on hold. La Mirada last played on Mar. 7 and defeated Saugus High 8-6 in the final game of the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, AZ. It was the last of three straight wins.

Upon their return to California, the Matadors were to have hosted a doubleheader against Cypress High and single games against Gahr and Whittier High before beginning Suburban League action against Bellflower. The team will graduate five seniors from a squad of 21 players.

NORWALK: Graduation is June 2

The baseball team had already equaled the win total of last season by splitting its first eight games. The program has not seen a winning campaign since 2013, which is also the last time it has advanced to the playoffs. Because of construction to the athletic fields at the school, Norwalk High has played all its games on the road. The last time out was a 7-3 win at Rancho Alamitos High and the team was scheduled to face St. Paul High on Saturday in pool play action of the St. Paul Tournament. The Suburban League opener was slated for Tuesday against Firebaugh High, a newcomer to the league. There are five seniors on a team of 14 players.

The softball team, looking to rebound from a two-win 2019 season, was off to a 6-3 start before everything stopped. The Lady Lancers began the season with a pair of shutouts and had scored 81 runs in the nine games and had already played half of the 605 League with a scheduled game against Whitney set for Mar. 12. Since a 3-1 loss to Cerritos on Mar. 4, Norwalk was to play four more non-league games prior to its Suburban League opener against Firebaugh on Tuesday. The Lady Lancers have four seniors on a team of 18 players.

VALLEY CHRISTIAN: Graduation is May 21

The lone area team to have begun league action prior to stoppage in play was the Valley Christian baseball team, which lost to Maranatha High on Mar. 7 before crushing Village Christian High 14-2 on Mar. 10 in its last action. The Defenders were 4-7 and were seeking to end a two-year absence from the postseason and had won two of their last three games. Other than their remaining 10 Olympic League games, including today’s road encounter against Maranatha, the Defenders were scheduled to play Legacy College Prep on Apr. 14 and Bishop Montgomery High on May 2. The team has five seniors out of 15 players.

If the softball team was to keep its current pattern going from the previous four seasons, then the Lady Defenders were anticipating a trip to the playoffs. V.C. has reached the postseason in 2016 and 2018 after missing in 2017 and 2019 and was sporting a 3-5 record when play was halted. The team had to rescheduled games from the Savanna Showcase due to inclement weather and dropped a pair of games in the Santa Fe Tournament on Mar. 7, the last time the team played this season. The Lady Defenders, who would have visited Village Christian on Mar. 26 and Whittier Christian High on Tuesday to conclude the first round of Olympic League action, are looking for its first 10-win season since 2015. V.C. has four seniors out of 15 players.

WHITNEY: Graduation is June 10

If there was ever a time for the Whitney baseball team to end a very long playoff drought that has lasted for over 20 seasons, this was it. The Wildcats were off to a 4-1 start after doubling up Calvary Chapel Downey High on 14-7 on Mar. 7. The program last had a winning season in 2017 when that team went 10-9. Prior to that, the program saw 17 straight losing seasons and did not have a season of more than five victories. Whitney was to have two more non-league games, then begin 605 League action this past week with a home game against Artesia today. What makes this situation even harder for the program is the fact that out of 10 players on the team, seven of them are seniors.

When the softball team went 15-9 in 2019 and advanced to the quarterfinals, it had its best season since 2012. But in 2020, the program was not expected to play any 605 League games despite putting together a small schedule. The Lady Wildcats lost five of their first six games, yielding 62 runs. The team has two seniors on a team of 11 players