By Dan Arritt     3/29/2017

The Trinity League has represented itself well in girls’ team competition this school year.

Santa Margarita won a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship in girls’ volleyball before advancing to the CIF State Open Division finals.

JSerra won a Division I title in girls’ soccer–its first in program history–and then capped the historic season by capturing a CIF Southern California Regional championship a week later.

On the same day JSerra won its section championship, Rosary took home a Division II-AA title in basketball, a victory made even sweeter when the Royals won by a point in overtime.

This Trinity League figures to leave its mark during the spring season as well.

Mater Dei is the defending Division I softball champion, beating Orange Lutheran, 8-2, in the championship game last season.

Even though graduation took a much bigger toll on the Monarchs after last season, they got off to a better start this year. Heading into the week of March 13, Mater Dei was ranked No. 4 in Division 1 with Orange Lutheran at No. 5.

Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran aren’t scheduled to meet in league play until April 11 at Thornton Park in Santa Ana, but they offered a sneak preview March 11, facing off in a consolation game at the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz.

Mater Dei won 3-2 on a two-run homer run by senior shortstop Neli Casares-Maher in the top of the third inning. The game was stopped after four innings because of a time limit.

Five days later at Thornton Park, the Monarchs showed their tenacity, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Roosevelt, 8-7.

Mater Dei’s continuation as the best team in the Trinity League is a testament to new coach Jessica Foley, who took over for Tia Meza this season after Meza was promoted to athletic director.

The two best players for the Monarchs last season, pitcher Gabby Sandoval and first baseman Priscilla Martinez, graduated, but players like Casares-Maher and third baseman Kelli Godin have stepped right in to fill the void.

Orange Lutheran returns the Orange County Register pitcher of the year in senior Maddy Dwyer, as well as first-team all-county senior catcher Lauren Espalin and sophomore outfielder Ciarra Briggs and second-teamer Noelle Hee, a senior first baseman.

And don’t overlook Rosary, which returns a core group of seniors who’ve been gaining recognition in the Trinity League since their freshman and sophomore years.

Rosary is led by pitcher Amelia Wiercioch, one of four current seniors on the team who were second-team all-league selections as sophomores two years ago. The others are catcher Sarah Ellersick, first baseman Andrea Hester and outfielder Katelyn Christensen.

Wiercioch, who signed with Duke, won 18 games last season and finished with a 1.47 ERA

Mater Dei and Rosary open league play on March 31 at Thornton Park.

Santa Margarita, like Mater Dei, opened the season 9-1 with five shutouts. And, like Rosary, dropped down from Division 1 to Division 2 this season, giving both teams a better chance of advancing deep in the playoffs.

One of the top players for Santa Margarita this season is infielder Meghan McClure, who led the Eagles to their section title in girls’ volleyball and was named the Orange County Register player of the year.