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Fullerton’s Sunny Hills Names Former Assistant New Softball Coach

Fullerton’s Sunny Hills Names Former Assistant New Softball Coach

Softball coach Dale Lopes of Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif. (Courtesy of Dale Lopes)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

8/8/2023

Updated: 12/21/2023

Defending Freeway League softball champion Sunny Hills High School in Southern California will have a new lead voice this year.
The Fullerton school announced Tuesday that longtime softball player and coach Dale Lopes will take over for Elise Laws, who stepped down to accept an assistant coaching position at Orange Coast College.
Mr. Lopes was an assistant on Ms. Laws’ staff last season, when Sunny Hills won its first league championship since 2015.
“A lot of parents and players are really excited about Coach Lopes taking over the program and continuing what Coach Laws had established,” Sunny Hills Athletic Director Paul Jones told The Epoch Times. “We felt like his experience and knowledge of the game would set us up for success in the future.”
Mr. Lopes spent the 2022 season as head coach at Cabrillo High in Long Beach. He has coached girls’ softball for “the past seven, eight years,” and has been involved in softball as either a player or coach for more than 40 years.
Most recently, Mr. Lopes served as co-head coach for Team Spain’s 18-and-under girls’ team in the Triple Crown International Challenge last month in Westminster, Colorado. He’s also coached numerous travel-ball and men’s teams, and can’t wait to get started with Sunny Hills.
“It’s a great opportunity, a great program,” Mr. Lopes told The Epoch Times. “The girls are terrific, just wonderful kids. The parents have been supportive and wonderful. … To have the support of the parents and the administration, it makes the transition that much easier.”
While the Lancers lost four key players to graduation, they return what Mr. Lopes called a “pretty good core.”
Elayna Marquez, who paced the team in hitting at .460 as a freshman last season, and senior-to-be Olivia Pedraza, last year’s Freeway League most valuable player, figure to lead the offense.
Pitching, though, will likely be Sunny Hills’ biggest strength. Though she missed much of last season due to injury, Maddie Moreno returns for her senior year, while junior-to-be Alexis Perez is coming off an 8–1 campaign that garnered all-league honors. Incoming sophomore Samantha Apolinar also has varsity experience.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting year, but it’s going to be a challenge,” Mr. Lopes said. “There are a lot of good teams in the Freeway League, and they say the toughest thing in sports is to repeat because there is a target on your back.
“We’re going to have a young team, and we have some nice freshmen coming in. I think there are three in particular that could make this really interesting. In my eyes, we don’t have a lot of aircraft carriers, but we do have a lot of battleships, and we will definitely battle.”
High energy and mental sharpness are among the traits Mr. Lopes plans to emphasize with the Lancers.
“We’re excited about his leadership, his knowledge of the game, his coaching history and expertise, as well as his passion for the game, and to help students learn about softball and life,” Mr. Jones said.
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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