SAMOHI — This year’s Vikings softball team will have the feel of a big-time college squad.

Santa Monica High School will be flush with future Division I college players when they take the field in February. A total of four players will sign letters of intent this week including shortstop Kalie Nakao (Hawaii), catcher Emma Woo (Tennessee Tech), pitcher Celisha Walker (New Mexico State) and outfielder Hayley Condon (San Jose State).

“I think the kids have really worked their butts off,” Head Coach Debbie Skaggs said. “This is a pretty close-knit group. They have been together for a long time.”

All four players have been on the varsity squad since they were freshmen.

With the presence of these four players along with a strong senior class, Skaggs expects her team to potentially challenge for a California Interscholastic Federation title after losing in the quarter-finals last season.

“That would be the topper,” Skaggs said of a possible title.

Pacifica Christian hosts playoff game <p>

The Seawolves’ girls volleyball team continues a successful season tonight when it hosts Archer in a second round CIF Division 5AA playoff game at Crossroads High School at 7 p.m.

Pacifica Christian (18-7 overall, 10-0 in Heritage League play) earned a first-round bye on Tuesday while Archer had to defeat Capistrano Valley Christian to advance.

The matchup will be the second time the two teams square off this season. Pacifica Christian won the first meeting during a tournament in Brentwood, but Head Coach Kasia Eatherton said that shouldn’t give her team an edge this time around.

She estimates that the team that works the hardest will most likely come out on top.

“It’s hard to really tell,” she said about what will be the key to the match. “Team play is always most important and I have seniors who are really good.”

That group of seniors is comprised of five players who have been with the team since the program was created four years ago. Eatherton said that Kelly Ryan, Gena Hegar, Alex Gearin, Amber Ferguson and Katrina Hegar will have to be a force if her Seawolves are to advance to the third round.

Samohi girls volleyball advances<p>

After a first-round victory over Bolsa Grande on Tuesday, the Vikings are set to host a second round CIF Division 3A playoff game tonight at 7 p.m. at the north gym.

The Vikings girls volleyball team finished the season as the second place team in the Ocean League. League rival Beverly Hills, which won the league, also advanced to the second round. The Normans will take on Mayfair.

Samohi’s Gonzalez signs with LMU<p>

This week has been a big week of signings for Samohi athletes.

Joining four softball players who signed with Division I schools this week is senior pitcher Alonzo Gonzalez. He has agreed to play for nearby Loyola Marymount University. He made it official on Wednesday.

“I feel so happy right now,” Gonzalez said. “I’m just on a cloud right now.”

Gonzalez, who has drawn interest from a number of other schools, said that education played a major factor in his decision.

“My mom told me plenty of times to either get drafted [into Major League Baseball] and pursue my dream or get a four-year college education,” he said. “I really couldn’t make a bad choice between the two.”

While he has committed to LMU, he could decide to turn pro if a team drafts him high enough in next June’s amateur draft. He said he would have to be selected in the top half of the draft for him to consider forgoing college, but said he would make that decision when the time comes. For now, he said all he is thinking about is the upcoming season.

Also factoring into his decision was the campus’ proximity to his home. He said it is a plus to be able to play in front of friends and family.

Gonzalez is expected to help fill the void left by the departure of a number of seniors from last year’s Samohi team. The left-hander was dominant at times last season and Gonzalez hopes to build on that success when the season begins in the spring.

“On paper, it doesn’t look like we have big home run hitters,” Gonzalez said of Samohi’s roster. “But, when teams look at our heart they will see that we can go out and compete with the best of them.”

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