Norco (Calif.) clinches national FAB 50 title

Norco (Calif.) clinched the No. 1 spot in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national softball rankings on Saturday night with a 6-4 win over Santiago (Corona, Calif.) in the CIF Southern Section Division I title game in Irvine, Calif.

Norco (31-2), which became a national title contender in March when it won top honors at a national invitational tournament in Bullhead City, Ariz., started the week No. 1 in the FAB 50. The Cougars advanced to Saturday’s final with a 4-0 win over Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.) in last Tuesday’s semifinals.

While Santiago entered Saturday’s game with nine losses, the Sharks did get a win over Norco during league play and had been averaging 9.7 runs per game since a change in the lineup nearly four weeks ago. Santiago also was the CIFSS Division I defending champion.

Amanda Sandoval gave Norco a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an RBI single. Pitcher Emily Lockman then helped her own cause with an RBI double in the third to make it 2-0, and later in the game she ripped a second RBI double.

Taylor Koenig also had two RBI singles, and the Cougars took a 6-0 lead into the fifth inning. That’s when Santiago came up with a four-run outburst that was helped by a two-run error.

Lockman, who is headed to Nebraska, then knuckled down and set down the Sharks in the sixth and seventh innings.

If Norco had lost, Porter Ridge (Indian Trail, N.C.) would have likely claimed the national title.

The Pirates were No. 3 in the most recent FAB 50 and on Saturday completed a two-game sweep against Holly Springs (N.C.) to win the North Carolina Class 4A state title. Their final record stands at 33-1. Auburn-bound Lexi Davis pitched shutouts in both of the team’s 2-0 victories.

Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) was No. 2 and entered the CIF North Coast Section Division I championship on Friday at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., with a 26-0 record. The Dons, however, fell out of No. 1 contention by losing 1-0 to James Logan (Union City, Calif.).

Amador Valley came within inches of scoring the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs and sophomore Ashley Lotoszynski at second base, Zoe Price singled to center. Lotoszynski did not score because of a strong throw by Logan center fielder Marissa Perez and a perfectly executed tag by catcher Caley Bonansea.

“We had to play flawless in the field, and we knew that just one mistake might be too much,” said Logan coach Teri Johnson, whose team avenged its only loss and is sure to move up from No. 16 in the FAB 50. “The way we bonded this year was just great. This couldn’t have happened to a better group of girls.”

Note: Norco also won the CIF Southern Section Division I title three years ago and finished No. 3 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings with a 32-2 record. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) went 32-0 and was No. 1 in the nation. Mitty’s standout player at the time, Keilani Ricketts, is now starring in the College Softball World Series for Oklahoma.