Loaded with athletes already signed to college scholarships, the Chino Hills High girls’ softball team will begin the 2021 season as the No. 1-ranked team in the country, according to the Maxpreps.com preseason Top 25 rankings.
Rankings were released Feb. 16.
The Huskies have a combined 37-7 record during the 2019 and 2020 seasons and are the three-time defending Baseline League champion.
The 2020 season was stopped in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of the stoppage, the Huskies had a 9-2 record, including a 1-0 Baseline League record.
Chino Hills will enter 2021 with a new head coach after Kim Ensey was hired in August.
She was previously coach at Cerritos, Edison and Santa Fe high schools and replaced Mike Southworth, who spent 11 seasons with the Huskies and led the team to its last CIF-Southern Section title in the sport in 2012.
This year’s Huskies’ squad features eight players signed to college scholarships, including pitcher Kendall Mangel (University of Nebraska) and Kayla Chavez (University of Minnesota).
Mangel has a career record of 58-9 with a 1.48 earned run average.
She’s thrown 415.2 innings with 45 complete games, struck out 253 and allowed 70 walks and four home runs.
In her freshman season when she was named Maxpreps National Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-American, Mangel finished 27-3 with 113 strikeouts in 195.2 innings.
Chavez has hit 23 home runs at Chino Hills with a career-batting average of .406, 85 RBIs, 17 doubles, three triples, a .767 slugging percentage and a 1.206 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Other college signees are Mykenzie Hanna (Boise State University), Sophia Nguyen (Claremont McKenna College), Natalie Moussa (Molloy College), Brianna Alamillo (Drexel University), Payton Kelly (Cal State Fullerton) and Ioana Soares (Park University).
Junior Maria Luna, a pitcher and utility player, committed to Western Illinois University on Feb. 6.
The start of the high school softball season could begin in March, pending state and county restrictions regarding the coronavirus.
Should the season begin on time, the Huskies will play a host of nonleague and tournament games before beginning Baseline League play Tuesday, April 27 against Upland.
Teams currently in the Maxpreps 25 are (from No. 2 to No. 25): Lakewood Ranch (Florida), Marist (Chicago), Norco (California), Hewitt-Trussville (Alabama), Los Alamitos (California), Eastern Alamance (North Carolina), Santa Fe (Texas), O’Connor (Arizona), Crown Point (Indiana), Barbers Hill (Texas), Westlake (California), Notre Dame (Louisiana), Spring-Ford (Pennsylvania), Gahr (California), Park Vista (Florida), Saugus (California), Mahopac (New York), Trenton (Florida), Glen Allen (Virginia), Cooper City (Florida), Spain Park (Alabama), Winter Springs (Florida), Crescenta Valley (California), and Williamsburg (Ohio).