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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – John Glenn’s Udengwu struggles in CIF state championships, does not reach medal round

By Loren Kopff

After throwing a 179-9 in the CIF state preliminaries last Friday in Clovis, the sixth best mark out of 25 competitors, John Glenn High senior Mikel Udengwu couldn’t repeat the same success the next day in the finals. Udengwu had one positive throw amongst his first three and was unable to stay in the top nine required to move on to the next three throws.

Udengwu faulted on his first two attempts, then threw a 159-07 on his third attempt, which put him in 11th place. JSerra High’s Brandon See, who has been one of Udengwu’s top rivals, threw a 196-04 on his first attempt, then faulted on his other five throws. He still took home the state championship with three other CIF-Southern Section competitors receiving medals.


In just its third season of existence, the CIF had its Southern California Regionals for softball. Normally, it’s for the CIF-SS division champion, runner-up and sometimes a semifinalist from each division. However, because of the popularity of travel softball and the demands and expectations that come with it, a lot of teams that went deep into the playoffs opted not to play in the regionals. On Friday, May 19, the assistant commissioner of the CIF-SS offered La Mirada High head coach Brent Tuttle an invitation to the team because Norco High and Pacifica High were backing out regardless of the outcome of their Division 1 championship game.

“My thing was I put it out on a group text, and I told the girls they needed to give me an answer within the hour or so and they were buzzing on [that] Friday,” said Tuttle. “Then once they realized the travel ball implications and all that, there was some hesitancy. We lost a couple of girls after that, but we were going to put together whatever we can and try to be competitive.”

The Matadores hosted Torrance High this past Tuesday in the first round of the regionals, a 16-2 win by Torrance. Both teams won their respective leagues in the regular season but were knocked out at home in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs. Tuttle said he didn’t know what the criteria was that allowed La Mirada to be invited to the regionals after the championship game opponents backed out. La Mirada ended the regular season ranked seventh in the division.

“It was just a fun game for us to play,” said Tuttle. “Now next year if we’re in it…CIF really needs to fix it. I didn’t realize it was going to be as strenuous as it was as far as strict [rules]. I sent an email asking if kids could play and stop playing travel ball at that point and they said, ‘no, they’ve already played a game’, which I understand. Rules are rules. But for these kids, it’s just another game.”

La Mirada had not played since its May 4 loss to Pacifica High in the first round and since then, there have been several travel games, plus an All-Star game that the invited La Mirada players were told they could not play in both that game and the regionals. On top of all that, La Mirada had its graduation this past Tuesday night, some four and a half hours after the Torrance began, which was moved from 4:00 to 2:30. Four seniors were on the La Mirada team, three of whom played against Torrance and left before the game was over.

“I think they need to fix it,” said Tuttle. “I think all the [CIF] sections need to be ending at the same time and the tournament needs to happen before Memorial Day, whether everybody starts the softball season a week earlier or…but that’s something that all the sections in California are going to have to come in agreement. Because, when you have teams that just finished Thursday and you’re waiting and waiting, and these kids want to go out and play travel ball. It’s a big thing for them.”