Fairfield falls in first game

State's top-ranked preseason softball team heads to major tourney in Arizona with 0-1 record. State's top-ranked baseball team for the preseason, Bishop Amat of La Puente, already has two losses.

The Fairfield High softball team will have to bounce back from a season-opening loss in a hurry. The Falcons, ranked No. 1 for the preseason in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.com and in the nation by Student Sports, dropped a 1-0 game to Wood of Vacaville on Wednesday and quickly left town for the Arizona Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz.

Playing without three starters who were benched for disciplinary reasons, the Falcons were only able to muster four hits against Wood pitcher Emilee Lewis and only had one runner reach second base.

All-American pitcher Alicia Hollowell struck out 13 for Fairfield and dominated every batter until the bottom of the seventh when Wood's Traci Bender hit a rope down the left field line that went for a triple. She scored the winning run when the next batter took a called third strike and the ball rolled away from Fairfield's catcher for a passed ball.

In Arizona, Fairfield will be facing a stellar field and will now no longer be considered the favorite. That tag has to go to Foothill of Tustin, Calif., which is 5-0 and has been extremely impressive in its early games, which include wins of 11-1 over Clovis and 17-0 over Bullard of Fresno, two traditional powerhouse teams from the Central Section.

Fairfield's softball team also is not the only preseason state and national No. 1 spring team off to a slow start. The Bishop Amat baseball team of La Puente began this week with two losses already on its record. The Lancers have lost to Valley View of Moreno Valley and San Luis Obispo.

Part of the trouble for Amat has been injury -- one of the team's top pitchers, Anthony Hidalgo, has had arm problems -- and part of it has been circumstance -- two starters were on Amat's basketball team which played into last week's regional playoffs.

Two teams that already look like they could move up to No. 1 in the state in baseball are Chatsworth and Rancho Bernardo of San Diego.

Chatsworth, No. 2 in the state and No. 4 in the nation, won four more times since opening the season with a win over Chaminade of West Hills in a matchup of nationally-ranked teams.

Rancho Bernardo survived a tough final game of the Hilltop-Lolita's Tournament last Saturday by beating Mission Bay, 3-1, in eight innings. The Broncos then started the current week with a 19-3 pummeling of St. Augustine in which they banged out eight home runs, including three by Scott Robinson.

For softball, after Foothill of Tustin, another on the rise is Wilson of Hacienda Heights. The Wildcats are ranked No. 2 by the Los Angeles Times after winning the San Dimas tourney last weekend. In the team's three wins at the event, junior Jamee Juarez pitched well with a two-hitter and a one-hitter. She also struck out 43 batters in 28 innings.

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