Final Cal-Hi Sports Softball Top 30

Royal pitcher Nancy Bowling shows intensity in recent outing. John T. Thorsen/ESPNHS

No surprise with Norco sitting at No. 1, but rounding out the final top five are James Logan of Union City, Amador Valley of Pleasanton, Chino Hills and Archbishop Mitty.

This week’s final top 20 state softball rankings were expanded to 30 teams in all. This gives us the opportunity to write more comments about additional teams and players. Still to come are the final state softball rankings according to our traditional five divisions.

(Through games played Saturday, June 2)

(Contributing: Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens)

(Previous ranking in parentheses)

1. (1) Norco 31-2

Already announced as the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year, the Cougars and their fans are planning when the players will receive their POWERADE FAB 50 national championship gear and collect their championship trophy from representatives of ESPN. Norco completed a solid run through the CIF Southern Section Division I title by beating defending champion Santiago of Corona 6-4 last Saturday in Irvine. Other than one bad inning against Santiago, the Cougars outscored their final, quarterfinal and semifinal foes (Foothill of Tustin and Vista Murrieta) by a combined 25-0.

2. (7) James Logan (Union City) 24-1

In what was the greatest season in the 25-year coaching career of coach Teri Johnson, her girls capped it off by reversing two straight 2-0 defeats to Amador Valley, including last year’s CIF North Coast Section D1 championship game, with a 1-0 victory in this year’s title tilt, the fourth NCS crown for Johnson and the school. “Look at that. That’s beautiful,” Johnson told Cal-Hi Sports by phone as she scrolled down the ESPNHS Softball POWERADE FAB 50 to see her girls at No. 5 in this week’s rankings. “I told people we could be a top 10 team, but I didn’t think we’d be this high,” said the coach who got victory No. 531 in the win. The No. 5 national and No. 2 state rankings are the best in school history as is the 24-1 record.

3. (2) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 26-1

With Norco winning its title, the young Dons would not have been No. 1 in the state even if it had won the NCS title. Still, the disappointment of being on the short end of a 1-0 decision to Logan, when your sophomore superstar, namely Ms. Softball finalist Johanna Grauer fans 17 was felt by coach Julie Marshall. “Yes, it (the loss) still stings pretty good. They are still champions in my mind. Phenomenal season and memories that will last a lifetime,” wrote Marshall in an email. The one weakness Marshall’s girls had in some games that showed in the loss was like many for young teams and that’s hitting. Four senior starters will be gone, but Grauer will be joined by a ton of returning talent, including sophomores Ashley Lotoszynski, Victoria Molina and Jazzy Perez.

4. (6) Chino Hills 32-3

This team was viewed as being as talented as any in the state at the start of the season with five Division I-bound players, led by shortstop Nikki Girard (Arizona State), pitcher Nikki Innamorato (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and catcher Paige Gumz (Fresno State) not to mention one of the top sophomores (Patricia Parks) and one of the top freshmen (Tannon Snow). This year, though, the Huskies put it all together and won their 26th straight game to end the season with a 3-0 triumph over South of Torrance in the CIFSS Division III final. “We never talked about winning games once,” said coach Mike Southworth. “They just came to practice every day and worked hard. Having a lot of four-year seniors helped.”

5. (5) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 27-2

When all was said and done, it was a fine season for the Monarchs, with another top five state finish and a No. 8 position in this week’s FAB 50. “Fantastic. I’m really proud of these girls,” said second-year Coach Brian Yocke when informed of where his girls finished in the rankings. Ms. Softball finalist Vanessa Alvarez is leaving to play next for Cal after leading the Monarchs to a second straight CIF Central Coast Section title and 10th since 1990. Alvarez and four other seniors graduate, and Yocke will need young pitchers to step up, but he has talent returning led by sophomore Jazmyn Jackson.

6. (8) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 28-3

When their 20-game winning streak came to an end in the final game of the regular season against Cypress, the Mariners figured to go on another lengthy winning streak but that never happened as they lost to Santiago of Corona 4-3 in the CIFSS Division I quarterfinals. They had defeated Cypress earlier in the year on their way to winning the Empire League and their first loss of the season was to Norco. Among their wins were those against Lakewood, Los Alamitos and Royal of Simi Valley. Junior Rebecca Lee drove in a team-high 30 runs while sophomore Kaylee Carlson won 15 games and freshman Kaley Winegarner won 13 games. Pacifica should be one of the top teams in the state once again next season.

7. (9) Lutheran (Orange) 27-5

Led by junior Jade Vecvanags and senior Madison Osias, the Lancers won the Trinity League before having their season end in the CIFSS Divsion I quarterfinals with a loss to Edison of Huntington Beach. Vecvanags went 16-1 in the circle while hitting 10 home runs and driving in 26 runs while Osias went 11-3 in the circle while leading the team with 11 home runs 39 runs batted in. During a 12-0 start, they defeated Esperanza and in the Brea Olinda Tournament finals they beat Etiwanda. They also had a win over Edison of Huntington Beach and at the Michelle Carew Classic they defeated eventual state and national No. 1 Norco.

8. (12) Santiago (Corona) 23-10

It’s a bit tricky where to put the Sharks in the final rankings. Their run to the CIFSS Division I championship game clearly merits a rise into the top 10, but with so many losses it’s too much to put them in front of every team they beat in the playoffs, namely Pacifica. Senior Erin Rodriguez led the way at the plate with a .448 average, 10 homers and 39 RBIs. Sophomore Randel Leahy was right there as well with nine homers, 41 RBIs and a .392 average.

9. (3) Edison (Huntington Beach) 26-5

Finishing one game behind Los Alamitos in the Sunset League, the Chargers picked up shutout wins over Murrieta Valley, Canyon of Anaheim and Lutheran of Orange in the CIFSS Division I playoffs before losing in the semifinals to Santiago of Corona. At the Faster to First they had back to back wins over El Modena of Orange and Mountain Ridge of Arizona and they won the Woodbridge Tournament with wins over La Canada and Mission Viejo. Senior Casey Africano hit .416 with 32 runs batted in while junior Samantha Cordova went 25-5 with a 0.88 ERA.

10. (12) Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 25-3-1

With their season over two weeks ago, the top team from the CIF San Diego Section was rewarded for their Division II title with a two-spot bump for the final rankings. Pitcher Jennifer Hartman graduates and will go to Sacramento State. Slugging senior Celinna Cosio moves on to Long Island Brooklyn, and Anissa Pinedo will be at University of Buffalo, but veteran Coach John Carlson has a few solid returners, including junior Natalie Cox, and sophomores Carolyn Wright and Alex Vargas.

11. (10) Royal (Simi Valley) 25-3

The Highlanders drop a spot for the final rankings but it wasn’t due to not having a fine three-loss season that saw them exit the CIFSS D1 playoffs after losing to Pacifica. Star pitcher Nancy Bowling is off to Arizona, and veteran coach Bill Dishon loses nine other seniors off a 20-girl roster, but juniors Kelyn Fillmore, Samantha Ohmie and Rachael Duncan return, and Dishon almost always has a competitive team.

12. (4) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 23-5

Coach Daniel Torres led the Broncos to a 14-1 record in Southwestern League play and had playoff wins over Los Alamitos and Esperanza of Anaheim before losing to Norco in the CIFSS Division I semifinals. At the Michelle Carew Classic, they went 3-2 with a win over Rancho Bernardo and at the Santiago Tournament they picked up a win over Carson. Leading the way on the field was Ms. Softball Player of the Year finalist Sierra Romero, who hit .556 with 54 runs batted in and 21 home runs.

13. (13) San Benito (Hollister) 23-3

The Haybalers hold fast at this spot after ending the season two weeks ago with a seventh straight CCS D1 title. Only two seniors depart so just about everyone will return next year for 2010 State Coach of the Year Scott Smith, including standout pitcher Megan Sabbatini, but until San Benito schedules games outside its immediate area it’s a little difficult to see how they compare to other statewide powers that play in tournaments with a broad range of top teams. All they really need to do is get Mitty, Logan and/or Amador Valley on the schedule.

14. (14) Woodcreek (Roseville) 26-4

One out away from a loss, the Timberwolves scored three runs with two outs to capture the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship with a 3-2 win over Del Campo of Fair Oaks. Losing all four games in Sierra Foothill League play, they finished in second-place behind Del Oro of Loomis with three of their four losses against the Golden Eagles. In addition to the section title, Woodcreek had wins over Sac-Joaquin D1 and D3 champions Sheldon and Bear River, respectively. They also beat Gulliver Prep of Miami, a highly-ranked Florida squad.

15. (16) Central (Fresno) 28-6

After riding pitcher Lindsey Clarkson’s perfect game two weeks ago in the CIF Central Section Division I title game 4-0 victory over Clovis, the top team from the Valley moves up one spot in the final rankings. Clarkson and half the 18-girl roster graduates, but coach Scott Gorton has sophomore slugger and pitcher Rachel Rodriguez, junior Rachel Knott, sophomore Jilee Schanda and freshman Alyssa Avila back on what should be another contending team.

16. (17) El Diamante (Visalia) 30-2

The Miners were riding high as defending champions and at 29-1 entering the CIF Central Section Division I semifinals, but then they lost 7-6 to Clovis West of Fresno. We figure there is much laughter from a lot of coaches in Southern California when they see El Diamante at No. 6 in the nation and No. 2 among California teams in the USA Today/NFCA rankings, but this is a solid, emerging program and should be taken seriously. The ridicule should be for those who obviously spend no time going over results and then release rankings. The USA Today/NFCA poll, after all, still has Amador Valley ahead of James Logan and many other examples of teams that lost in state playoffs still being ranked.

17. (18) Esperanza (Anaheim) 25-7

In a Century League that includes Canyon of Anaheim and El Modena of Orange, it was the Aztecs who came out on top as they lost just once in league play with a split against Canyon. At the Michelle Carew Classic, they defeated Simi Valley and Sheldon of Sacramento while losing to Orange Lutheran. Before a CIFSS Division I quarterfinal loss to Vista Murrieta, they also defeated Mater Dei of Santa Ana. With 10 sophomores on the roster, Esperanza should be a serious threat for the next two seasons.

18. (19) Los Alamitos 23-7

The Griffins had some impressive wins this season, inclulding two over Edison of Huntington Beach to capture the Sunset League title, before a suprisingly short postseason that saw them lose to Vista Murrieta in the second round of the CIFSS Division I playoffs. At the Tournament of Champions in Arizona, they went 4-1 with wins over Aliso Niguel and Chino. With just two seniors on their roster, the Griffins were led in the circle by sophomore Andie Formby.

19. (NR) Torrey Pines (San Diego) 31-6

The Falcons grab one of the final spots after winning the CIF San Diego Section Division I championship with a 10-inning 1-0 title-game victory over Carlsbad. In a game that was postponed for three days due to a generator blowing out at UC San Diego, it was Torrey Pines junior centerfielder Julia Yacker that dropped the hammer with a two-out single that drove home freshman Shelby Adams for the game-winner and the first section title in school history. Junior pitcher Rachel Nasland capped a fine season by scattering eight hits while recording 15 strikeouts. Only five seniors on a roster of 20 girls graduate so look for the Falcons to challenge for much higher state ranking next year.

20. (20) Sheldon (Sacramento) 21-9

The Huskies nearly missed making the playoffs as they finished third in the Delta River League but with some help from Ponderosa of Shingle Springs they made the playoffs and then rolled to their second straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. Sheldon defeated Ponderosa in the finals and in the six playoffs wins they outscored their opponents by a combined 75-9 score. Senior Alexis Cooper went 19-7 in the circle while also leading the team in runs batted in with 34.

Expanded Next 10 Teams:

21. West Ranch (Valencia) 22-5-1

The Foothill League champion Wildcats had their season come to an end in the second round of the CIFSS Division I in a loss to Santiago of Corona after a win over El Modena of Orange. Senior Bailey Foster went 21-5 while junior Kylie Sorenson had 33 runs batted in.

22. La Canada 26-4-1

Ace pitcher Lauren Cox wasn’t at her best, but the Spartan offense backed her up in a 7-5 victory over Beaumont for the team’s second straight CIF Division V title. Cox, who struck out 20 in one playoff game, still struck out 10 against Beaumont. La Canada’s high state ranking also is based on the team’s impressive showing at the Woodbridge tourney. All losses were to bigger schools other than ones that were later avenged.

23. Canyon (Anaheim) 18-9

Splitting a pair of games against Esperanza of Anaheim, the Comanches finished in second-place in the Century League before a short postseason that saw them defeat Moorpark before a loss to Edison of Huntington Beach. Canyon played one of the tougher schedules in the state with a trip to the Arizona TOC and then hosting the Michelle Carew Classic.

24. Saugus 22-8

Junior Alanna Layton went 13-5 in the circle and led the team with 32 runs batted in as the Centurions finished tied for second in the Foothill League before a second-round loss in the CIFSS Division I playoffs. After a win over Stockdale of Bakersfield, they went to the Arizona TOC and defeated Centennial of Nevada and Chino. Later, at the Santiago Spring Fling, they defeated Bishop Amat of La Puente and Santiago of Corona.

26. Chino 23-9

Coach Mike Smith's Cowgirls roped up a Mt. Baldy League championship and then went on to capture the CIFSS Division II championship by defeating league rival Don Lugo of Chino. On the way to the finals, they defeated Mission Viejo, Millikan of Long Beach and Lakewood.

26. Simi Valley 21-6-1

The Pioneers return to the rankings in the expanded version after a season that saw them exit in the first-round of the CIFSS D1 playoffs with an upset loss to Foothill of Tustin. New Mexico-bound senior pitcher Lauren Soles and eight other seniors graduate off a roster of 17 girls and with slugging freshman Kira Czyrklis looking like the top returner, next season could be a question mark.

27. California (San Ramon) 16-10

The second-best 10-loss team in the state had some stinker losses in East Bay Athletic League play, and took a few losses in the Livermore Stampede and Queen of the Mountain tournaments but they gave Logan a fight in a 3-1 NCS D1 semifinal loss after avenging a loss to Brentwood Heritage in the quarterfinals. They also took Amador Valley to extra innings in league play before falling. The top returner off a very young team will be sophomore pitcher Lindsey Chalmers.

28. Concord 24-4

The Minutemen girls somewhat flew under the radar for most of the season, and when the NCS D2 seedings were announced, coach Megan Coddington’s team received a ho-hum fifth seed. Then, in the championship game, the girls made it two titles in the last three years after squeaking out a 2-I victory over a Petaluma team it had lost 2-1 to opening the season. “We’ll give them the first one,” Coddington told Cal-Hi Sports after the title-game win.

29. Mission Viejo 24-6

In the mix for a top 20 ranking all season long, the Diablos won the South Coast League but their postseason was cut short with a CIFSS Division II second-round loss to the eventual champions from Chino.

30. Hughson 28-1

Junior Katelyn Harden led the Huskies to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title. She batted .518 with six homers and 37 RBIs and also went 25-1 as a pitcher with a 0.32 ERA. Despite its small-school stature, Hughson might have been the best team in the southern part of the Sac-Joaquin Section regardless of school size. The Huskies’ only loss was 1-0 to Johansen of Modesto early in the season before a top senior pitcher quit the team at Johansen. They also beat numerous bigger schools, including one win over St. Mary’s of Stockton, a league champion.

Dropped Out:

Previous No. 15 Lakewood.

More Honorable Mention Teams

Carlmont (Belmont) 24-4, Don Lugo (Chino) 23-6, Clovis West (Fresno) 28-11, El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 27-5, Foothill (Tustin) 14-14, Heritage (Brentwood) 22-3, Lakewood 26-6, San Marin (Novato) 23-1, Oakdale 27-3-1, Valencia 19-11.