By Steve Breazeale and Matthew Laney

The spring preps season is underway at Dana Hills High School and in our annual preview, we get you caught up to date on all of the Dolphin programs that will be in action this year.

For in-game updates, scores, news and more for all of the Dana Hills spring sports programs, follow us on Twitter @SouthOCsports.

Baseball

It is shaping up to be a special spring for the Dana Hills baseball team.

The Dolphins are loaded with returning talent, a potential top MLB Draft pitching prospect and an intriguing mix of young talent.

This group will also be tasked with navigating its way through the toughest schedule of games in program history.

The Dolphins, who opened their season with a two-game series against Orange Lutheran, are competing in the Loara Tournament this week, and head to North Carolina to play in the prestigious USA Baseball National High School Invitational on March 29.

Coach Tom Faris purposefully set a tough schedule knowing that this team has the potential to make a postseason push.

Senior right-handed pitcher Hans Crouse will be the main draw for fans and Major League scouts alike at Dolphins games this season. The senior hurler is coming off a spectacular junior season and an offseason that saw him start the gold-medal clinching game for the USA Baseball 18U National Team at the Pan-American Championships.

Crouse, a USC commit, is regarded as one of the top high school arms in the state, if not the country.

Joining Crouse at the top of the rotation will be junior Jack Sterner.

The Dolphins lineup features several impact bats and future collegiate players. Jeremy Ciolek (Cal State Dominguez Hills), Joe DeBaca (UC San Diego) and Jordan Matthews return to anchor the lineup. Newcomers like sophomore shortstop Zach Waters and freshman outfielder Thomas Buckanavage add to the Dolphins’ depth. —Steve Breazeale

Sophomore Jackson Philbin and the Dana Hills boys golf team will look to defend their South Coast League title in 2017. Photo: Steve Breazeale

Boys Golf

After losing five seniors to graduation in the offseason, the Dana Hills boys golf lineup has been open for competition.

Returning senior Blake Brothers played a large role on last year’s South Coast League championship team and is leading the way in the early going with a scoring average that is hovering around 38. Senior co-captain Hayden Hill also returns.

Outside of Brothers and Hill, the Dolphins roster is filled with players who have been on the junior varsity team and are getting their first taste of varsity competition.

Sophomore Quentin Hill is having a breakout start to the season and is second on the team in scoring average. Sophomore Connor Beveridge, seniors Cody Curtis, Connor Griffo and junior Matt Frandell are all battling to stay in the top-6 of the Dolphins’ rotation.

“From day one this team has shown it is eager and hungry,” coach Glenn Forster said. “They want to get better and improve themselves, and it’s exciting.”

The Dolphins opened their tournament season with a strong fourth-place showing at the Servite Invitational on Feb. 27. —SB

The Dana Hills boys lacrosse teams is looking to get past early injuries and compete in 2017. Photo: Steve Breazeale

Boys Lacrosse

The Dana Hills boys lacrosse team did not start the 2017 season off on a high note. In fact, it’s been tough going for the team that narrowly missed out on its first-ever playoff berth one year ago.

In the team’s season-opening game against Mater Dei on March 2, the Dolphins got banged up in a 16-0 loss that featured five injuries to impact players.

The injuries presented the Dolphins with early adversity, but they are determined to get through it.

Regardless of the injuries, head coach Chris Iltis described this Dolphins group as “the best overall group we’ve ever seen as far as skill level across the board.”

Dana Hills’ strength this season lies in its attack, which features seniors Greg Ross and Ben Martin. The Dolphins’ defense is led by senior defender Shawn Rodriguez, who was one of the players injured against the Monarchs, Luke Thayer and goalie Gunnar Steele.

The Dolphins will have a busy nonleague slate with games against Woodbridge and Huntington Beach before opening Sea View League play on March 16.—SB

Jake Ward and the Dana Hills boys swim team will defend their South Coast League title in 2017. Photo: Kim Ward

Boys Swimming

The Dana Hills boys swim team continued its dominance by claiming the South Coast League championship for the fourth consecutive season in 2016. With experienced swimmers coming back for the 2017 season, Dana Hills will look to extend its impressive winning streak.

Junior freestyler Owen Kao is looking to build off of his impressive sophomore season. As a sophomore, Kao placed second in both of his CIF-SS events and swam in Olympic time trials over the summer.

Seniors Trent Pellini and Michael Smith are looking to have successful final seasons. Both Smith and Pellini are committed to Purdue University.

Pellini will be competing in individual medley and breaststrokes and Smith will compete in freestyle and butterfly stroke events. Smith missed last season due to a shoulder injury but is back to full health.

“Our top end strength is definitely good. We’ve got five or six really good athletic top-end guys that are strong swimmers that no one else in the county has,” Dana Hills coach Matt Rosa said. —Matthew Laney

Softball

After a strong 2016 season that ended with a loss in the second round of the playoffs, the Dana Hills softball team looks to continue its success by mixing things up.

Rather than rely solely on the arm of standout pitcher Serafine Parrish like last season, the Dolphins are using a one-two punch from the pitching circle in 2017. Kate Donaldson, a transfer from Utah, has joined the squad and offers another top arm that adds to the team’s depth.

Parrish had a monster junior season that saw her toss 180 innings, rack up 253 strikeouts and win 13 games.

Through seven games the Dolphins own a 4-3 record. Parrish owns a 2-1 record in four appearances and Donaldson is 1-1 in three showings. Both pitchers have combined to record 48 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings this season.

Junior first baseman Jessie Nagel looks to be a big team leader who hits for power. Meryl Reinhart, Tori Sickmeier and Cozette Zoch help round out the Dolphins lineup.—ML

Boys Track and Field

Dana Hills will be entering the 2017 season with a new head coach.

Keith Chambers has served as the programs’ boys and girls sprint coach for the past four years, but this will be his first head coaching job.

Finishing second in the South Coast League last season and second at the Orange County Championships left a bitter taste in the Dolphins’ mouths, Chambers said. Coming up close and not being able to hold on for the win is a trend they don’t want repeating itself.

Junior Jack Landgraf, the Dolphins’ top cross country runner this fall, will be leading the way for the distance crew competing in the 800- and 1600-meter events, while Max Halvax looks to be the Dolphins top sprinter.

“They’re young but they’re learning,” Chambers said. “I always tell them they have to grow up fast if they want to reach those goals they want to get to.” —ML

Girls Track and Field

The Dana Hills girls track and field team is used to finishing either first or second in the competitive South Coast League year in and year out. But last season was a different story. For the first time in several years, the Dolphins placed third in league.

An experienced group of returners, led by a strong sophomore and junior class, want to push the Dolphins back to the top in 2017.

Jennifer Daly looks to be one of those leaders while competing in the 800-meter, 4×400-meter relay and one-mile runs.

Leading the distance crew will be Kathryn Kaloroumakis, and Kyra Hale looks to be the Dolphins top hurdler.

As the Dolphins quest to the top of the league standings begins, they are approaching the season with a new mindset.

“The girls and I are calling this season ‘An unexpected journey.’ Good or bad, it’s going to be a journey and by expecting good and bad to happen, that will keep us prepared for anything,” head coach Ryan Crane said. —ML  

Riley McCall (pictured) and Ryan Burns make up the Dana Hills boys tennis team’s top doubles group. Photo: Steve Breazeale

Boys Tennis

Depth will be the key to success for the Dana Hills boys tennis team this season.

The Dolphins, who placed second in the South Coast League and advanced to the first round of the CIF-SS Team Championships last year, return nine players to their roster, including seven starters.

One group that did not experience any turnover to graduation was the Dolphins’ top doubles group of sophomore Riley McCall and junior Ryan Burns, who are vying to break through with a league doubles title. In three matches this season, McCall and Burns have won seven of a possible nine points.

Marek Michulka and Michael Perez will anchor the Dolphins’ singles lineup.

Dana Hills has had an up-and-down start to its season, but has been playing against tough opposition. The Dolphins lost their season opener to Woodbridge, defeated Newport Harbor, and lost to Northwood. —SB

Dylan Campeau, left, and Thomas DeStefano bring valuable experience to the Dana Hills boys volleyball team. Photo: Steve Breazeale

Boys Volleyball

 In a unique twist, the Dana Hills boys volleyball team’s roster consists entirely of seniors this season. But that does not mean the Dolphins are heavy on experience.

Dana Hills returns only a handful of players with varsity experience and a large amount of players who have spent the last three years coming up through the ranks of the program. Now that they are seniors, they are getting the chance to play on varsity.

But the Dolphins still have a solid nucleus of veterans and will be led by three-year starters Thomas DeStefano and Dylan Campeau. DeStefano will be the team’s libero and Campeau will play outside hitter.

Setter Troy Brown and middle blocker Trevor Weinert also return.

The Dolphins team has played a tough nonleague slate and pulled off a signature win over Orange Lutheran on March 7. Dana Hills was playing against the Lancers without Brown, which caused coach Oz Simmons to use as much of his roster as possible to see what would work with the team’s primary setter absent. The Dolphins were able to rally after losing the first set and win in five.

“We were a little nervous (early against Orange Lutheran). Then we came out fired up and everything seemed to click. Everyone had energy and it was more of a team effort,” DeStefano said. “It shows that anyone can come in the game and contribute for us.” —SB

 

The Dana Hills girls swimming team has been experimenting more with dry land training this offseason in the hopes of gaining explosive racing power. Photo: Steve Breazeale

Girls Swimming

In an effort to focus on having more explosive racing power, the Dana Hills girls swim team has spent a lot of hours training outside of the pool this offseason.

The Dolphins have been doing more dry land training than in year’s past, and coach Cynthia Carlson believes the effects are beginning to take hold.

Dana Hills will be led by a returning core of swimmers and a few impact freshmen.

Sophomore Devon Forker will swim the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley and relays. Junior Madeline Wiese will power the sprints and junior Courtney Prefontaine will swim the 100-meter backstroke and relays.

Freshmen Sydney Querner and Anna Nemeth have made an early impact and will be called upon to win the Dolphins crucial points.

Dana Hills lost a closely contested nonleague dual meet against rival San Clemente by two points, and they were edged by Capistrano Valley last week. —SB

L to R: Sydney Deindoerfer, Chloe Plantamura, Kylie Quinley, Gabby Ahad and the Dolphins girls lacrosse team enter the season with a new look and a new coach. Photo: Steve Breazeale

Girls Lacrosse

For the second time in as many years, the Dana Hills girls lacrosse team will have a new head coach. The Dolphins didn’t have to go far in searching for the team’s new leader this time around.

Dana Hills alum and former player Alejandra Moraga will helm the Dolphins program in what is her first-ever season as a coach. Moraga played for the Dolphins lacrosse team in the program’s inaugural season.

The Dolphins are deep at midfield this year and are led by juniors Gabby Ahad, Sydney Deindoerfer and senior Madisen Bishop. All three are co-captains, along with senior midfield/attack Tracy Mann.—SB

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