Clovis softball reigns in cactus country

Preseason state No. 1 Fairfield and pretourney favorite Foothill of Tustin both falter in big-time Arizona event, but California doesn't go home empty-handed as Clovis takes top honors. In baseball, the Central Section is at the forefront for the week as well as coach Mike Noakes moves past 700-win mark.

When Student Sports FAB 50 preseason No. 9 Clovis (Calif.) lost twice to No. 4 Foothill (Tustin, Calif.) just days before the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz., the Cougars didn't appear to have the firepower to win the prestigious event.

But a marvelous pitching performance by sophomore Jennifer Reynolds led the Cougars to their second TOC title (the other was 1999). Reynolds beat FAB 50 No. 21 Greenway (Phoenix, Ariz.), No. 24 Canyon (Anaheim, Calif.), Farmington (N.M.) and Deer Valley (Glendale, Ariz.) in the preliminary rounds and then disposed of FAB 50 No. 46 Bryan (Texas), 1-0, in the championship to earn MVP honors.

"When you are in a tournament of that caliber, it's a matter of playing well for five games. We did that," Clovis coach Mike Noel said. "We did what Clovis softball does, we scratched for runs."

As for the rest of the loaded field, there were plenty of surprises that are sure to shake up the next national ranking. For more on the tournament, see the May issue of Student Sports Magazine. For the updated national FAB 50 rankings, keep checking back to

One of the other biggest surprises was third-place El Toro. The Chargers could have folded up the tents before the season started when it was revealed that their top returnee, sophomore shortstop Stephanie Churchwell, would miss the season with a disk problem in her back. But El Toro knocked off nationallyranked Flowing Wells of Arizona in its first game (Flowing Wells also was the event's defending champion) and wound up third. Sophomore Tanza Lewis pitched well throughout the tourney.

Final standings from the tournament: 1. Clovis (Clovis, Calif.); 2. Bryan (Bryan, Texas); 3. El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.); 4. Canyon (Anaheim, Calif); 5. Los Alamitos (Los Alamitos, Calif.); 6. California (Whittier, Calif.); 7. Fairfield (Fairfield, Calif); 8. Diamond Bar (Diamond Bar, Calif.); 9. Foothill (Tustin, Calif.) 10. Wooster (Reno, Nev.); 11. Woodbridge (Irvine, Calif.); 12. Hillcrest (Midvale, Utah). Consolation final: 1. Flowing Wells (Tucson, Ariz.); 2. Silverado (Las Vegas, Nev.).

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Notes & Highlights

•Central of Fresno baseball coach Mike Noakes has joined a very short list of those in state history with 700 or more career wins. Noakes' team improved to 10-1 for the season last week with a 7-5 victory over De La Salle of Concord. The 10 wins puts his career total at 702. Most of Noakes' wins came at nearby Bullard. The only others on the all-time state list with more than 700 career coaching wins are El Segundo's John Stevenson (more than 900) and Rancho Cordova's Guy Anderson.

•The Bishop Amat baseball team, ranked No. 1 in the state to start the season but which lost twice in its first six outings, looked good last Saturday in a 9-5, 11-4 doubleheader sweep of Newhall Hart. Jordan Swayden hit two homers in the first game and Alex Ramos had four RBI in the second. Hart fell to 4-3-1.

•Rancho Bernardo of San Diego continues to look like a strong No. 1 possibility in baseball. The Broncos won the Hilltop-Lolita tourney last Saturday, 5-0, over El Capitan of Lakeside behind John Peabody's two-hit, seven-strikeout pitching. Then this week they improved to 7-0 with a 11-0 win over Fallbrook. Scott Robinson parked his seventh homer of the season in that one and sophomore Brandon Burke pitched a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

•Junior standout Josh Lansford collected three hits and three RBI to lead St. Francis of Mountain View past Wilcox of Santa Clara, 6-5, last Saturday in the title game of the St. Francis tourney. Wilcox suffered its first loss of the season after a 12-0 start. The Lancers improved to 11-2. Lansford, son of former major leaguer Carney Lansford, started the week hitting .500 for the early season. Vincent Gutierrez starred for Wilcox by cracking four hits, all doubles.

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