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27th annual Hilltop softball tourney on tap Phillip Brents | Thu, Mar 18 2010 10:30 PM

The 27th annual Hilltop Invitational softball tournament is under way to usher in the high school spring sports season. The 16-team tournament was scheduled to begin Thursday and continue with round-robin games on Saturday at three South Bay sites. The tourney finals are March 28 at Olympian High School.

Entered teams include Hilltop, Olympian, Coronado, Southwest El Centro, Eastlake,  Castle Park, Clairemont, Otay Ranch, Bonita Vista, Francis Parker, Morse, El Capitan, Mater Dei Catholic, Steele Canyon, Brawley and Mar Vista.

Francis Parker is the defending champion after topping Hilltop, 5-2, in last year's finals.

Saturday's games will be played at Olympian, Bonita Vista and Mater Dei high schools. Games start at 9 a.m. and continue through 3 p.m.

On tap at Olympian are four games each on two playing fields. Hilltop and Olympian will square off on one field at 9 a.m. while Eastlake and Castle Park will battle simultaneously on another field. Games scheduled for 11 a.m. include Coronado versus Olympian and Clairemont versus Castle Park. Games scheduled for 1 p.m. include Coronado versus Southwest and Clairemont versus Otay Ranch. Games scheduled for 3 p.m. include Hilltop versus Southwest and Eastlake versus Otay Ranch.

On tap at Mater Dei are four games on one playing field. Mater Dei is scheduled to take on Steele Canyon at 9 a.m., followed by contests between Brawley and Steele Canyon (11 a.m.), Brawley and Mar Vista (1 p.m.) and Mater Dei and Mar Vista (3 p.m.).

Because of rescheduled games, only two games will be played at Bonita Vista on Saturday: the host Barons against Morse at 9 a.m. and Bonita Vista versus El Capitan at 11 p.m.

Francis Parker will play at El Capitan on Tuesday, March 23, at 3:30 p.m. while Morse will host Francis Parker on Friday, March 26, at 3:30 p.m. The rescheduled games were necessitated because of coaching conflicts with the state basketball playoffs on the part of Francis Parker.

As a result, Bonita Vista and Francis Parker got a jump-start on tourney play, with the Barons recording a 2-1 win on March 11.
The top two teams from each of the four pools will advance to the bracket play on March 28. Ties will be broken by head-to-head match-ups, runs allowed and, if necessary, the flip of a coin.

Tourney host Hilltop enters the tournament with a 3-2 record after advancing to the semifinals of this year's Escondido Cougar Classic. The Lancers scored wins against Helix, Escondido and Grossmont while dropping contests to Mira Mesa and University City. Hilltop lost, 1-0, to UC in Monday's semifinals.

Hilltop, Bonita Vista, Steele Canyon, Mar Vista, Brawley, Francis Parker and Mater Dei all qualified for last year's San Diego Section divisional playoffs. Francis Parker defeated Christian to capture the Division IV title while Steele Canyon finished runner-up to Mt. Carmel in the Division II championship game. Bonita Vista received the No. 3 seed in the Division II playoffs.

Besides Francis Parker and Hilltop, last year's semifinalists also included Clairemont and Bonita Vista. The Lancers defeated Clairemont, 9-0, while Francis Parker defeated Bonita Vista 6-0.

Hilltop coach Nancy Acerrio said she expects a competitive field this spring.

"I think that it's a tournament with a lot of Metro teams that are getting stronger every year," she said. "Clairemont is a strong City Conference program. Southwest just had a good showing in the Escondido tournament. Steele Canyon is a power house from the Grossmont district."

Acerrio rated senior pitchers Alysha Isaacson and Jordan Rhudy as both having strong starts to the season for her team. Isaacson is headed for the University of Dayton while Rhudy is headed to Azusa Pacific, both on softball scholarships.

Bonita Vista is 2-0-1. The Barons opened the season with an 8-0 win against Fallbrook. Mar Vista opened its season on Tuesday with a 5-1 non-league victory against Chula Vista as Alyssa Rose drove in two runs and Angel Iacovetti threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts.

Mater Dei enters the tournament after dealing Castle Park a recent 12-2 defeat in non-league play.
For more information on the tournament, contact Hilltop softball coach Nancy Acerrio at 476-4290.

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