Early Season Softball Highlights

Orange County teams strut their stuff and finish 1-2-3-5 at prestigious Tournament of Champions in Arizona. But the hottest pitcher to start the season is in Northern California.



Fairfield High's Alicia Hollowell was the strikeout queen of California prep softball in recent years, but now that she's at the University of Arizona who should be annointed that title for this year?

Look no further than North Salinas High of the CIF Central Coast Section. There you will find University of Tennessee-bound Monica Abbott and last week the 6-0 Abbott made history by striking out all 21 batters she faced in a 5-0 victory over San Lorenzo Valley of Felton at the Circle of Champions tourney in Cupertino.

According to Abbott's father, Bruce, the powerful pitcher began the game against San Lorenzo Valley with three straight balls. She then threw three straight strikes and set down the next 20 in a row on strikeouts as well. She finished the game with 70 strikes and 19 balls.

The last 21-K perfect game in California was thrown by Katie Layne from Hogan of Vallejo in 1999. The only other one came in 1998 by Jocelyn Forest from Righetti of Santa Maria. The state record for most strikeouts in a perfect game is 27, set in 1939 by Dolores Frieze from Garfield of Los Angeles. She did it when some teams played nine-inning games instead of seven and struck out all 27 she faced.

Abbott's perfect game against San Lorenzo Valley also was her fourth straight no-hitter. That streak started with a seven-inning no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Atascadero, then continued with a seven-inning no-hitter in a 6-0 win over Leland of San Jose and a five-inning perfect game in a 13-0 victory against Gunderson of San Jose.

Abbott ended the 2002 season on a similar roll with perfect games in the CCS Div. I semifinals and finals. The Vikings beat Santa Teresa of San Jose and Wilcox of Santa Clara and won the section title. During the summer, Abbott pitched nine innings of perfect ball for a U.S. team at the Junior Olympics in games against junior national teams from Mexico and Canada.



Don't be surprised if the first regular season state softball rankings are dominated by teams from Orange County because teams from Orange County certainly left their mark on last weekend's Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz.

Central Section power Clovis won that tourney last year and was No. 1 in the nation for much of the season. The Cougars, who started the year No. 1 in the Student Sports preseason FAB 50, lost this year in Arizona in the quarterfinals. And guess where the team that beat them is from? Fountain Valley did the deed with a 1-0 win on a two-hitter by Katie Trott.

The championship game of the tourney came down to two Orange County teams, Pacifica of Garden Grove and Mater Dei of Santa Ana, but it wasn't played due to rain. Coaches Rob Weil of Pacifica and Doug Myers of Mater Dei later agreed to be called co-champions of the event.

Pacifica, which was No. 3 in the preseason national rankings and was No. 2 in the state, won its semifinal game, 1-0, over University City of San Diego. The Mariners won it in the eighth inning when Jodie Legaspi, a future teammate of Uni City pitcher Lisa Dodd at UCLA, ripped a two-out double that scored Crystal Vieyra. Brittany Weil, who the day before pitched two no-hitters, struck out 11 and allowed four hits against Uni City.

Mater Dei defeated Fountain Valley in the other semi, 3-0, on a three-run rally in the seventh inning. The big hit of that rally was a two-run triple by sophomore Briana Santos.

Fountain Valley later won the third-place game, 9-1, over University City.

Two other Orange County teams that fared well in Arizona were El Modena of Orange and Canyon of Anaheim. El Modena dropped a quarterfinal game to Mater Dei, but came back to place seventh and closed the event with a 3-0 win over defending Nevada state champ Wooster of Reno. Canyon also went 4-1 in the tourney and finished in ninth-place.

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