With Clovis' surprising 4-0 loss in eight innings to Clovis West of Fresno on Wednesday in the finals of the CIF Central Section Yosemite Division Large School championship, it opened up a key debate about who deserves to be the national champion in the Student Sports FAB 50 -- current No. 2 Clearwater (Fla.) Countryside (33-1) or No. 3 Bonita Vista (Chula Vista, Calif.).
Both teams have great credentials ... Countryside lost only one game -- a 14-inning, 1-0 setback to Palm Harbor University, a team that was ranked in the FAB 50 most of the season. Meanwhile, Bonita Vista is still unbeaten and charging toward a potential CIF San Diego Section Division I title. The Barons (31-0) won their quarterfinal game on Tuesday, 5-0, over Granite Hills of El Cajon and moved into this weekend's semifinals. The decision on who deserves to be No. 1 won't be decided until next week's rankings, so stay tuned.
But there won't be much doubt about who should be No. 1 in California if Bonita Vista wins its section title. The Barons would finish 33-0, the best softball record in state history. And while there will be arguments about Bonita Vista's strength of schedule -- no games were played against CIF Southern Section opponents -- there comes a point where sheer execution beats strength of schedule and 33-0 is sheer execution. As Clovis proved on Wednesday, it only takes a couple of bad plays for a loss to occur, so for a team to go 33-0 in the top division in any of the state's top six sections would be very exceptional. It, in fact, has never happened before.
Wednesday was a bitter setback for Clovis, which was on a in-season state-record 35-game winning streak. Clovis West (28-11) was a major underdog as the sixth seed, but pitcher Samantha Schroeder shut the Cougars (37-3) out cold, giving the Eagles' their first softball section title since 1985.
After back-to-back singles in the top of the eighth inning, Courtney Yoshimoto, the Eagles' No. 9 hitter, delivered a two-RBI single. Shannon Garvin helped two more runs score by beating out an infield grounder.
The Cougars, who were playing in a seventh consecutive section championship, put two runners on in the bottom of the inning but failed to score. Schroeder struck out the last three batters of the frame.
"Clovis West had great pitching that was backed by clutch hitting and good fielding," Clovis coach Mike Noel told the Fresno Bee. "They made all the plays we usually make but didn't."
Yoshimoto, who went 2-for-3, told the Fresno Bee a team meeting helped her team play with nothing to lose.
"We...focused on playing Clovis High, not the No. 1 team in the nation," Yoshimoto said. "We tried to keep that in perspective."
The perspective now is that Clovis will no longer be the No. 1 in the nation -- let alone the No. 1 in the state -- when all of the rankings are released next week.