Victory by M.L. King of Riverside over Pacifica of Garden Grove in CIF Southern Section Div. III softball playoffs paves the way for San Diego school to be probable State Team of the Year.

For a school with its first senior class, it can't get much better to kick off an athletic program than what's happened already at M.L. King High of Riverside.

Only a little more than two months after the school's boys basketball team won the CIF Div. II state championship, King struck again on Tuesday, this time on a softball field, as the Wolves upset Pacifica of Garden Grove, 3-0, in the CIF Southern Section Div. III semifinals.

Pacifica entered the game ranked No. 1 in the state and has been the No. 1-ranked team by the L.A. Times for several weeks. The Mariners got their chance at the state's top ranking when previous No. 1 Clovis and No. 2 Bonita Vista of Chula Vista lost in their section playoffs.

Against King, however, Pacifica was not able to get the key hits it has for almost the entire season. The Mariners were shut down by pitcher Heather Booth, who struck out 11 and had a five-hitter.

Booth, who is headed to Notre Dame, also had a hand in getting the Wolves an early lead. With the bases loaded in the first inning, Booth ripped a drive off the glove of Pacifica pitcher Brittany Weil that scored the first run.

Anna Beardman (2-for-3, run scored) and Miasarah Cesena (2 for 3, RBI) also led King's offense.

Pacifica had two runners on base in its last at-bat in the seventh, but Booth got a fly ball to center to end the game.

The loss opens the door for Mira Mesa of San Diego to be the 2002 State Team of the Year. The Marauders capped their season last weekend at 35-1 by winning their second straight CIF San Diego Section Div. II title and are led by pitcher-hitter Lisa Dodd, one of the nation's top juniors.

King has been unranked for most of the season in the L.A. Times top 25 and in the CIF Southern Section coaches polls. The win over Pacifica will no doubt leapfrog the Wolves up among the state's elite, too, especially if they follow it up by winning the section title this weekend.

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