Winning the CIF Southern Section Division III crown took a mighty effort, but once it was done there was little suspense over which school would be named 2003 State Team of the Year in softball.

The race to be No. 1 in the state for 2003 in softball could have gone in a myriad of directions as section playoffs were getting underway several weeks ago.

In the massive Southern Section, it was difficult ranking Pacifica of Garden Grove, Santiago of Corona and Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the 1-2-3 positions all season long. Notre Dame of Salinas and Mitty of San Jose looked good with excellent overall records in the Central Coast Section, while Clovis West in the Central and Mt. Carmel in the San Diego sections both had strong credentials as well.

Among all those teams, only Pacifica and Notre Dame were able to hoist section championship trophies. And since Pacifica played a stronger overall schedule than did Notre Dame, it is the Mariners who are the 2003 Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year. Coach Rob Weil also was at the helm when Pacifica was No. 1 in the state previously in 1997.

A co-championship at the prestigious Tournament of Champions in Arizona and second-place finishes in the Foothill and Woodbridge tourneys were among the highlights of the season for Pacfica. But it was what happened in the bottom of the sixth inning in the Mariners' Southern Section Div. III championship game against La Mirada that will be most remembered by the players and their fans.

Trailing 3-0 and seeming to have all the bounces of the ball going in La Mirada's favor, Pacifica put together a nine-run rally that sparked a 9-3 triumph.

All-American shortstop Jodi Legaspi doubled to lead off the inning. She went to third when catcher Jamie Waldecker beat the throw to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The next batter, Ashlyn Watson, hit a bouncer to third, but the throw to first sailed wide of the bag. Legaspi had scored the team's first run, none were out, and the Mariners had runners on second and third. Colby Shackelford then was walked intentionally to load the bases. Brittany Weil followed with a grounder up the middle that scored courtesy runner Jessica Jusak, but courtesy runner Amanda Cross was thrown out at second. After a stolen base and another walk loaded the bases again, Shackelford scored the tying run when Heidi Stockbauer's grounder to first was misplayed. Pacifica then took a 4-3 lead when Amy Mayrhofer singled to center. Crystal Vieyra kept the rally going with another RBI single and then it was time for Legaspi to bat again. The UCLA-bound senior ripped her second double of the inning, this time plating two more runs, and the Mariners had a 7-3 lead. They still weren't done. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Watson delivered with a single that knocked in two more runs.

All that remained for Pacifica to complete its No. 1 season was to get three outs in the top of the seventh. Weil retired La Mirada in order, the last out coming on a bouncer back to herself.

"I just kept telling them to stay within themselves," Rob Weil said. "I was hoping if we could just keep playing our game that the momentum might turn and that's exactly what happened."

"They were making play after play, but I was still not nervous," Waldecker said. "I just knew we were supposed to win. There was almost a sense of calm as we were scoring all those runs."

Weil will have two more years coaching his pitching daughter for the Mariners, but he knows it will be difficult replacing Legaspi, Waldecker, Mayrhofer and five other seniors.

"We know we're very fortunate at Pacifica to have the athletes in softball that we have," the coach said. "What people don't know is what goes on behind the scenes. These kids work extremely hard. At the beginning of the season, they said maybe five words as they practiced. They just knew they all had a common goal. The seniors made sure that they left as a team with a CIF championship."

All-Time State Softball

Teams of the Year

(All Selections by Cal-Hi Sports)

2003 -- Garden Grove Pacifica (31-2)

2002 -- San Diego Mira Mesa (35-1)

2001 -- Fresno Bullard (36-1)

2000 -- Tustin Foothill (33-2)

1999 -- Fresno Bullard (38-1-1)

1998 -- Clovis Buchanan (35-2)

1997 -- Garden Grove Pacifica (31-1-1)

1996 -- Santa Ana Mater Dei (30-1)

1995 -- Huntington Beach Marina (24-5)

1994 -- Clovis (31-3)*

1993 -- Covina Charter Oak (29-0-1)

1992 -- Stockton Lincoln (35-3)

1991 -- Stockton Lincoln (29-3)

1990 -- Roseville (37-2)

1989 -- Lakewood St. Joseph (26-1)

1988 -- Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (21-6)

1987 -- Stockton Lincoln (30-0)

1986 -- Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)

1985 -- Huntington Beach Ocean View (32-0)

1984 -- Stockton Lincoln (37-1)

1983 -- Lodi (27-2)

1982 -- San Diego Madison (20-0)

1981 -- Santa Maria Righetti (25-1)

1980 -- Santa Maria Righetti (29-0)

1979 -- Santa Rosa Montgomery (26-1)

1978 -- Fairfield Armijo (23-0)

1977 -- Huntington Beach Marina (17-0)

1976 -- Chula Vista Hilltop (17-0)

1975 -- Downey Warren (18-1)

1974 -- El Segundo (Undefeated)

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