Valencia baseball, softball on CIF watchlists

Valencia center fielder Alexis Genovese (18) makes a diving catch to end the fourth inning against Norco at Vakllencai on May 26, 2016. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Valencia High softball coach Donna Lee isn’t worried about the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 Preseason Watchlist

Amid all the Santa Clarita Valley’s rain this month, she just wants to get her team out on the field for a full week.

“We’re just trying to get on the same page,” said Lee, whose team advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinals last season. “It’s been really tough with the rain. It’s probably the rainiest it’s been since 2006.”

Lee’s Vikings were one of 14 teams to make the Division 1 Watchlist, released this week, and the only SCV team listed in any division.

The same exclusivity applies to the Valencia baseball team, one of 15 teams honored in Division 1 and the only local squad listed.

“It’s cool to be recognized on there,” said coach Mike Killinger. “It means a lot of coaches and teams we played thought that we looked the part.”

Under the CIF’s competitive-equity playoff format, Division 1’s field might be even more loaded than normal, meaning tough postseason roads await Valencia, Hart, West Ranch or Saugus should they qualify.

Canyon is in Division 3, and Golden Valley is in D4

As for softball, Valencia and Saugus (the Foothill League’s two co-champions last year) and West Ranch are in Division 1. Canyon is Division 2, with Hart and Golden Valley in Division 3.

Valencia appears to be the league’s favorite, returning co-Foothill League Player of the Year Shea O’Leary in the circle and all-league first-teamer Allysa Shipman behind the plate, both NCAA Division 1 commits.

The Vikings also return third baseman Kyla Hardy, shortstop Noel Dominguez, center fielder Alexis Genovese and utility player Kelia Paragas.

Now, it’s just a matter of getting outside.

Valencia, Lee said, has practiced with full use of its field six times in the last three weeks.

The Vikings are slated to play Calvary Chapel of Downey and La Sierra of Riverside on Saturday at a tournament in Corona.

“We’re trying to get in our groove right now,” Lee said.

Valencia baseball, co-Foothill League champions with West Ranch last year, open at Crespi High of Encino on Saturday.

The Vikings return the league’s best one-two punch on the mound in right-handers Chase Farrell (UCLA) and Ben Fariss (UC Santa Barbara).

“We’re pretty lucky to have two guys considered to be really high prospects,” Killinger said. “There’s not really a pecking order in any way.

“Assuming everyone stays healthy, one of them will start seven games and one will start eight (in league).”

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