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May 10, 2011 > MVAL softball coming down to two teams

MVAL softball coming down to two teams

By Nick Zambrano

Mission Valley Athletic League's 2011 softball season is nearing the end and it has become clear that it is now a two-team race for the top spot between the incumbent James Logan High School Lady Colts and challenger Newark Memorial High School Lady Cougars.

Both teams are strikingly similar, relying heavily on the pitching of their aces and the creativity and pop of their lineups. Also worth noting, both teams are ranked in the top 10 of the current East Bay Prep Softball rankings, with Logan as the top-ranked team, and Newark as the No. 9 team.

Up to this point, Logan has allowed sophomore Raeann Garza to let it rip in the circle. The result thus far is a 13-2 record with 11 complete games, 92 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA. Her Newark counterpart, Marissa Chapa, has also imposed her will against the MVAL and is 16-2 with over 200 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.64.

In the only time these two have this season it was Garza that claimed victory but it was Chapa that showed more dominance. In that 3-2, nine-inning dance, Chapa mowed down 11 Logan batters, an accomplishment few pitchers can admit to saying. That's not to omit the fact that the Lady Colts were able to get to the Newark junior. Logan flexed some muscle when Caley Bonansea tagged Chapa for a solo homerun. Another accomplishment few can admit to saying.

Logan is equally known for their power as well as their pitching. Their two through four hitters -- Jazmine Reed, Alexis Martinez and Bonansea -- have all gone yard twice this season. Bonansea leads the team with 22 RBIs, while Martinez leads in batting average (.459) and runs scored (23); Reed is right behind her with a .458 average and 20 runs scored, but also leads the team with eight steals.

In 19 games played this season, the Lady Colts have surpassed 10 runs in a game six times. That also includes their May 3 smashing of Irvington, 10-0.

In the Irvington affair, Logan's three-headed monster of Reed, Martinez and Bonansea went a combined 5-9 with four runs scored, three runs batted in and a triple between them. First baseman Kelia Barkow threw some more salt in the Lady Vikings' wounds as she went 2-3 with a triple and two runs scored. After that, the Lady Colts upped their MVAL winning streak to 20 games and are now 8-0 this year.

The Newark Memorial lineup has played with a bit more finesse and instead of relying heavily on the heart of the order, getting production from throughout. Regan Rodriguez, the Lady Cougars' leadoff hitter, sets the table consistently. In Newark's recent 12-0 smashing of Mission San Jose, the freshman notched herself a 2-4 day with a pair of triples, three runs scored and an amazing four runs batted in. She was one of four Lady Cougars to hit for a triple; two-hole hitter Ali Reed, five- and six-hole hitters Katie Burdick and Jenai Rojo had the others.

In the head-to-head match up between Newark and Logan, it was Newark that was behind in their half of the sixth after the Bonansea solo bomb. With their backs creeping into the corner, the Lady Cougars were finally able to respond with Erica Contreras. Contreras showed up Bonansea's homer with a two-run shot that gave Newark the lead.

The Newark junior's range of power extends to all fields and that blast to dead center was the perfect note for any pitcher trying to figure out how to pitch to her. With Chapa and Burdick surrounding her in the order, the task will be a difficult one to say the least.

Now, the rematch won't be until May 17 in Newark but both teams will need to win out until then if the game is to have any significant meaning. Newark's (18-2, 7-1) road to the second go-around has less turns but has a few more bumps, they'll take on Washington and Irvington the week before. Washington will come into the game having won three of their last five, but have been able to get to ace Marissa Chapa in their previous meeting.

The Lady Colts (16-3, 8-0) will have three straight contests this week. On May 10 and 12, Logan will face John F. Kennedy and American; both teams with records under .500. Sandwiched in between Kennedy and American, Concord could be a good challenge for Logan. Concord boasts a similar record to Newark and is in first place in the Diablo Valley Athletic League. First pitch for all games is 3:45 p.m., with the exception of the Logan-Concord contest which starts at 4.

For a complete rundown of all MVAL softball, and the entire scope of prep school athletics, log on to the Tri-City Voice Sports website, http://sports.tricityvoice.com.

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