Lakewood baseball booted from CIFSS playoffs for rules violation…..Templeton baseball/softball completes 51-4 season…..Ex-Californians battle it out at Women's College World Series…..Track updates, state swimming bests and more from the best prep notes column in the state

•PEPPER OR PRACTICE?: The definition of playing pepper has become a major issue in the CIF Southern Section Div. I baseball playoffs because the version Lakewood High was playing before a game earlier this week against Valley View of Moreno Valley has been ruled to have been batting practice. The Lancers were therefore removed from the playoffs despite a 4-3 win over Valley View.

Parents from Valley View videotaped Lakewood players in the outfield conducting what they perceived to be batting practice and their team played the game under protest since batting practice is not allowed before any CIFSS playoff game. Lakewood coach Spud O'Neil insisted then and now that his team was playing pepper in the outfield, not having batting practice. He did admit that at least one player swung away.

Two administrators in the CIFSS office reviewed evidence on Thursday and agreed with Valley View's side. Lakewood thus ends its season with a 24-8 record.

"It's a shame that high school sports has come to this, where you have two people ruling on what is and what is not pepper, even though the game was decided fair and square on the field," O'Neil told the L.A. Times.

From our experience in covering these types of stories, a clear violation probably took place. Whether it should have been enough to kick a team out of the playoffs and reverse the result of what happened on the field is subject to debate.

All rules and laws, after all, involve some degree of interpretation by those who enforce them. Judges hand out sentences and cops do let people get away with speeding with just a warning.

Coaches, parents and athletes just need to be reminded over and over that those who enforce the rules of high school sports -- not just in California but across the nation – are extremely strict in their interpretations. A rule is a rule, CIF administrators would say, and we've got to ensure that they are followed. We're not sure how many of them would agree with such strict interpretations, however, if they all got speeding tickets for going one mile an hour over the limit.

•TEMPLETON TRIUMPHS: We admit to having a little bit of a soft spot for Templeton High. In case you didn't know, it's an old, small school in San Luis Obispo County and in the late 1920s a young man named Gilbert Tennis started his teaching career there. Gilbert taught chemistry and helped coach the basketball team at Templeton. He later moved to Grass Valley where he started a family and eventually became Superintendent of Schools. Gilbert Tennis, who died in 1977, was the father of Nelson (founder of Cal-Hi Sports) and grandfather of Mark (Nelson's nephew and editor of Cal-Hi Sports).

On Tuesday, May 20, Templeton High enjoyed one of its best days athletically as both the baseball and softball teams won CIF Central Section Sierra Division titles. The Eagles won in baseball, 9-1, over Immanuel of Reedley and blanked Fowler, 5-0, in softball. Logan Husky pitched a complete game for the baseball team and Natasha Dallaire did the honors for softball.

Templeton's two teams finished with a combined record of 51-4 (29-2 in softball and 22-2 in baseball). That is the best baseball-softball combo record in the state and at Templeton the baseball-softball combo really is a combo. The baseball coach is Jerry Reynolds and the softball coach is Valerie Reynolds, his wife.

•BASEBALL COMEBACKS DO HAPPEN: Much of the postgame comments after Templeton had completed its two-title sweep with the win over Immanuel were about what Immanuel players and coaches felt was the Eagles violating a cardinal rule in baseball that says you don't take extra bases and run aggressively with a big lead.

But big leads can disappear quickly and two prime examples of that were in Southern Section playoff games. In a Division VI matchup between Valley Christian of Santa Maria and Cate of Carpinteria, Valley Christian came back from an 11-0 deficit to win 13-12. A three-run fifth inning and an eight-run sixth tied the score at 11-11 heading to the seventh. Cate scored a run for a 12-11 lead, but Valley Christian then won it in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run homer by Joey Martinez. Then in a Division III game between Palm Desert and Orange, an extra-inning upset looked likely when Orange scored six in the top of the ninth to take an 11-5 lead. Palm Desert, however, answered with a seven-run outburst and claimed a 12-11 triumph. Kevin McDonald was credited with the game-winning hit.

•THE GREATEST HITTING TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF SOFTBALL: It's either that or the Garfield High of Los Angeles team has faced the worst competition imaginable. You just have to draw your own conclusions in looking at the hitting stats for Bulldog players this year. According to the L.A. Times stat lists, three Garfield players all batted above .600 and another almost made it. Eliana Murillo led the way with a .675 mark (56-for-83). Yvette Acuna was .632 (going 48-for-76) while Karen Gomez swung away at a .610 clip (47-for-77). Cathy Valdez was next on the team at .596.

•SHOWDOWNS AT THE OKC CORRAL: Watching all those Women's College World Series games with all those former California prep softball pitching phenoms going against each other last weekend in Oklahoma City was a lot of fun. Alicia Hollowell, the 2002 State Player of the Year from Fairfield, certainly lived up to her prep legend status as a freshman at the University of Arizona with 40 wins in the circle. She still has a hard time beating Kelly Anderson, though, who pitched for Cal and is the same Kelly Anderson who was the winning pitcher for Woodland High in 2001 when the Wolves won that Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game, 1-0, in 30 innings. That was the same game in which Hollowell had 61 strikeouts. Anderson wasn't the pitching star of the collegiate national championships, either. That would be Keira Goerl of champion UCLA. She was almost State Player of the Year in 2000 from Valley View of Moreno Valley, but the honor instead went to Jamie Southern of Clovis.

•HERE COME THE HIGHLANDERS: You're supposed to peak in the big meets at the end of May if you're a track athlete and that's what it looks like the Helix High of La Mesa boys are doing. With Reggie Bush getting healthier and healthier and Derrell Hutsona and Deun White coming on strong, Helix should be a state meet team title favorite. Long Beach Poly and Dominguez from the Southern Section look loaded as well, but Helix may turn out to be the team to beat. Hutsona recently took over the state lead in the long jump with a mark of 24-8 3/4 and stretched out to 23-11 3/4 last week in the section prelims. Bush teamed with Hutsona, White and Bryan Barmer to clock 41.00 in the 4x100 to take over the state lead in that event, too. White ran a 21.39 in the 200 on the same day while Bush and Hutsona also moved on in the 100.

•FELIX WON'T TRIPLE: Photographer/writer Kirby Lee is doing a Student Sports Magazine cover story for us on L.A. Baptist sprinting sensation Allyson Felix and says she didn't enter the 400 in qualifying for the CIF Southern Section meets because her focus now is more to prepare for a run at a world championship later this summer in Paris. There was speculation that Felix might attempt the 100-200-400 triple at the state meet, but once she ran that 22.11 in the 200 in Mexico City the possibility that she could win a world title for Team USA became much more plausable. We find it funny that LeBron James has already signed a $90 million deal with Nike just because he's going to compete amongst the best basketball players in the world in the NBA. Allyson Felix has already competed against -- and has beaten -- some of the best women sprinters in the world.

That being said, wouldn't it also be funny if Felix found just as tough competition at the state meet as what she faced in Mexico City? Long Beach Poly's Shalonda Solomon certainly hopes that is the case and last week at the Southern Section divisional championships Solomon clocked 11.35 in the 100 and 23.21 wind-aided in the 200. Felix's two winning times in her divisional races were 11.37 and 22.88. Solomon also anchored Poly to what was at first thought to be a national record of 44.50 in the 4x100 relay. Four hours after the race, though, the mark was disallowed due to a malfunction in the automatic timing.

•ROGERS RINGS THOSE BELLS: Bellarmine of San Jose and head coach Larry Rogers extended their state record for consecutive section boys swimming titles to 19 while winning the Central Coast Section championship with a record total of a whopping 508 1/2 points, the previous record being 400. The Bells and Rogers also won their 21st title overall, a state record for Rogers but one short for Bellarmine as Mission Viejo won its 22nd Southern Section boys swimming title. In addition, Rogers surpassed Bakersfield's legendary football coach Dwight "Goldie" Griffith for most section titles in any one sport. Griffith had 20 from 1916 to 1945. Rogers has also won 19 water polo section titles so his state record for all sports is now at 40.

Also in swimming, Davis won its eighth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section boys title, Irvine won its seventh straight Southern Section girls crown while Clovis West of Fresno won its seventh straight Central Section title in girls. The Davis girls also won their 26th consecutive league title, tieing Poway wrestling for the second most consecutively in any sport behind the current 31 straight for Long Beach Wilson in boys swimming. In the North Coast Section, here comes De La Salle of Concord for swimming, too, winning the boys title while Campolindo of Moraga won the girls title as expected.

•STATE SWIM BESTS: We checked through all of the section swimming finals around the state and here are the best marks from each event. This isn't a yearly best, but the best from just comparing section championship results.

50-yd Freestyle -- Ben Wildman-Tobriner (Lick-Wilmerding, San Francisco) (NCS) 20.35
100-yd Freestyle -- Ben Wildman-Tobriner (Lick-Wilmerding, San Francisco) (NCS) 44.87
200-yd Freestyle -- Garrett Wagner (Del Oro, Loomis) (SJS) 1:37.59 (Jr)
500-yd Freestyle -- Larsen Jensen (Mission Viejo) (SS) 4:24.32
100-yd Butterfly -- Danny Beal (Dos Pueblos, Goleta) (SS) 49.04 (Jr)
100-yd Backstroke -- Andrew Cole (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) (SS) 51.50
100-yd Breaststroke -- Keenan Newman (Davis) (SJS) 56.31
200-yd Individual Medley -- Keenan Newman (Davis) (SJS) 1:47.31 (state record)
200-yd Freestyle Relay -- Bellarmine, San Jose (CCS) 1:25.61 (second best was Davis at 1:25.69)
400-yd Freestyle Relay -- Davis (SJS) 3:08.84
200-yd Medley Relay -- Bellarmine, San Jose (CCS) 1:35.56
50-yd Freestyle -- Brooke Bishop (Mountain View) (CCS) 22.84 (Jr)
100-Yd Freestyle -- Courtney Cashion (Irvine) (SS) 50.03 (Jr)
200-yd Freestyle -- Valerie Tukey (Torrey Pines, San Diego) (SDS) 1:48.55
500-yd Freestyle -- Hayley Peirsol (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) (SS) 4:45.57
100-yd Butterfly -- Ashley DePaul (Villa Park) (SS) 55.29
100-yd Backstroke -- Diana MacManus (Irvine) (SS) 54.19 (Jr)
100-yd Breaststroke -- Nicolette Teo (Mission Viejo) (SS) 1:02.17 (Jr)
200-yd Individual Medley -- Nicole Mackey (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) (SS) 2:01.59
200-yd Freestyle Relay -- Campolindo, Moraga (NCS) 1:37.03
400-yd Freestyle Relay -- Irvine (SS) 3:24.64 (state record)
200-yd Medley Relay -- Irvine (SS) 1:44.01

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