Amador Valley is a little light on offense, but doesn’t give up a run in winning the Queen of the Mountain tournament to remain the state’s top-ranked team. Highest-rising newcomers this week are California of San Ramon and Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga.
Mr. Kibosh almost arrived early for the state’s top team, but in the end it survived the mojo of the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan to win the Queen of the Mountain tournament at the Sports Complex in Pleasanton.
There’s no secret why Amador Valley is at the top of everyone’s list of teams in the nation. It’s because it has arguably the nation’s top player in Johanna Grauer, a junior already committed to Arizona State.
Grauer is stronger and has a little more velocity than last year, plus her curve and off speed pitches have as much velocity as most girls’ fastballs.
With the Caravan in the stands for the tournament’s opening game against Concord Clayton Valley, the solidly-built junior that looks a little bit like and has the same mannerisms in the circle as former Sheldon (Sacramento) and current Cal star Jolene Henderson, was perfect through six innings.
The problem is that the Dons were unable to score off Clayton Valley senior Shannon Mestas.
Then, the perfecto was not only spoiled by a single to lead off the seventh inning, but after fanning the second batter Grauer gave up an infield single to put runners on first and second.
Turning her back to the plate in Henderson-like fashion to blow off some steam, she turned back around with fire in her eyes.
The next two batters struck out on six pitches that were her fastest of the evening and according to our calculations around 67-68 miles per hour, a fact later confirmed by Grauer. “I top out at 67.”
The Dons were saved in the bottom of the seventh when a two-out single by senior Krista Williams pushed across the game’s lone run in a 1-0 victory.
“I hope I can come out and pitch this way every game,” said Grauer who only gave up the two hits, struck out 13, and threw an incredible 65 strikes on 83 pitches.
The fact is Grauer did it in all four games of the tournament. The 1-0 win was followed by a 3-0 victory over Castro Valley, a 1-0 semifinal win against league rival Livermore Granada, and then a 2-0 victory over another top East Bay Athletic League foe in California of San Ramon.
In the California win, Williams blasted a home run and Grauer only allowed two base runners with none reaching second.
Grauer is 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA, six hits, two walks and 46 strikeouts combined. She fanned 11 against California.
The Dons’ defense was strong after they committed no errors in the tournament.
Hitting is a different story. Williams is at .385 and junior Ashley Lotozynski is at an even .400, but after that it’s a big drop-off. If Amador Valley is going to make big noise at the Michelle Carew Classic, the hitting is going to have to come around.
The team is idle this week and has three games next week before leaving for Southern California and the Carew.
“The hitting is getting there. They’re improving over each game,” said first-year head coach Teresa Borchard. “We’re going to work on it this week and next with a few tweaks.”
Here are this week’s rankings:
(After games of Wednesday, March 20; previous ranking in parenthesis)
1. (1) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 4-0
The Dons won the Queen of the Mountain tournament as expected, but it wasn’t all that easy and it took the pitching of junior sensation Johanna Grauer to seal the deal.
2. (9) Mission Viejo 14-1
Consideration was given to moving James Logan to No. 2, however with teams in the CIFNCS not playing that many games, and the Southern California teams beating each other up, a 14-1 record with a single blemish means a seven-spot jump for the Diablos. The lone 3-1 loss was to Norco, but the resume also includes an 8-0 win over previous No. 2 Great Oak in the Best of the West championship game last Saturday, a 3-0 win over previous No. 20 El Modena, and a win over a Los Alamitos team that lost to Norco but beat previous No. 4 Mater Dei. Mission Viejo has one game remaining this week against Santa Margarita Catholic of Rancho Santa Margarita.
3. (3) James Logan 5-0
It’s not that the Colts were undeserving of moving up after 4-2 and 6-1 road victories over Antioch Deer Valley and Danville Monte Vista, respectively, it just would not have looked good having two Northern California teams at the top with short records, albeit undefeated. At this stage of the season, staying at No. 3 in the state after a couple of non-league games, while the SoCal teams are going at each other in tournament action, is a solid spot to be in.
4. (2) Great Oak (Temecula) 9-1
The young Wolfpack got pushed around by Mission Viejo in the 8-0 loss, but the girls showed well in the Best of the West. Hopefully for the Great Oak faithful deep out in the Inland Empire the loss was a lesson that will help them as the season progresses.
5. (5) Norco 9-2
The Cougars have two losses with one to Mater Dei, but at the Best of the West tournament they beat Los Alamitos and Moorpark, and Mater Dei lost to both of those teams. Last year’s State Coach of the Year, Rick Robinson, has a team that is a perfect example of what to expect from Southern California softball this season in a year when it looks like there is a lot of talent in the Southland spread around amongst a lot of teams that have beaten each other so far in tournament action.
6. (7) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 8-0
It’s a one spot bump for the No. 3 team from what looks like a Bay Area region that has a load of talent like the Southland. Last week in West Catholic Athletic League action, the Monarchs posted a 12-0 win over San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral and then followed it up on Tuesday with a 9-1 victory over cross-town Presentation. Sophomore Desiree Severance has been doing most of the pitching and is 5-0 with a 0.56 ERA and has only given up 17 hits in 37.2 innings pitched and 138 batters faced.
7. (9) Santiago (Corona) 11-1
The Cougars get back three of the seven spots they lost last week after rebounding from their loss to Eastvale Roosevelt and resting for nine days before a 9-2 and 10-2 doubleheader road sweep at Redlands. San Diego State commit Erica Romero pitched both games and gave up five hits and two earned runs with 16 strikeouts combined.
8. (12) Esperanza (Anaheim) 8-1
The Aztecs have a lone loss to Cypress, but last week after a 10-day rest they shut out Irvine 6-0 and a Dana Hills team that beat Cypress, 4-0. This week, Esperanza beat previous No. 20 El Modena, 7-1 on the road. The result is a big four-spot bump.
9. (16) Vintage (Napa) 8-0
With so many teams above them losing and/or tying games, we’re going to move both Vintage and the Woodcreek team they defeated back up close to where Woodcreek was at (No. 4) before the Crushers crushed them two weeks ago. This past week Vintage won 11-2 over Vacaville and then this Tuesday the girls won 3-1 at Fairfield Rodriquez. The team is led by Idaho State-bound Kacie Burnett (.500 average) and transfer Haley Forbes (.538 average), whom local scribe Marty James of the Napa Valley Register says “puts them over the top.” Each of those two has six RBIs but coach Rick Robben has six girls with five RBIs or more, including his daughter, sophomore Baylee Robben, who leads the team with seven knocked in. Sophomore pitcher Erin Oestreich has pitched every inning and has a 0.97 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched.
10. (17) Woodcreek (Roseville) 8-1
The Timberwolves paid for the loss to Vintage last week so they also benefit from teams above them not showing that well and get a good bump up behind Vintage. The Timberwolves only had one game last week and it was a 5-2 win over Granite Bay. This week they have Rocklin at home.
11. (4) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 10-3
How far to drop the No. 2 team in the Orange County Register rankings after it lost both games in the Best of the West to Moorpark and Los Alamitos was pretty hard to figure since so many teams are beating each other in Southern California. We couldn’t drop them too far since they are No. 2 in those rankings, but the Monarchs still have to be behind one-loss Esperanza even though the Register has Esperanza sixth.
12. (10) Marina (Huntington Beach) 9-1
Head coach Shelly Luth reports a 2-1 loss to Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley that was previously unreported, so despite a week that saw the Vikings beat Fullerton Rosary 8-0, Santa Ana Foothill 8-0, and Irvine Woodbridge 3-0, they have to fall in behind Mater Dei just like on OCVarsity.com where they are third in the rankings.
13. (6) Pacifica (Garden Grove) 7-3
The girls started last week by pouring more salt on the wounds of preseason highly ranked Huntington Beach Edison in a 2-1 win at the Best of the West, but in the event’s second game they fell 3-2 to a Saugus team that’s played in tough tournaments. The Mariners bounced back this week with a 10-0 drubbing of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa. The result is Pacifica falls in behind Marina just like in the Orange County Register’s rankings.
14. (NR) California (San Ramon) 3-1
The Grizzlies finally broke into action and gave Amador Valley everything it could handle before falling 1-0 in the title game of the Queen of the Mountain tournament. On day one of the tournament, the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan saw junior pitcher Lindsey Chalmers in action and she is dominating. In fact, the run she gave up to Amador Valley was the only one she allowed in the tournament after 5-0, 3-0 and 1-0 victories over Fremont Washington, Concord Carondelet and Livermore.
15. (13) El Diamante (Visalia) 9-1-1
One of the problems with tournaments that have time limits on games is it creates ties, and that’s exactly what happened with the score 2-2 against Fresno Clovis West at the Buchanan Tournament. El Diamante beat Madera twice in a doubleheader last week and Bakersfield Stockdale at the Buchanan event.
16. (NR) Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 9-1
The second newcomer this week has a lone 6-4 loss to Santiago and a resume of wins over decent, but not the strongest, teams.
17. (NR) Chino 10-2
Losses are to Mater Dei (1-0) and Mission Viejo (7-6) at the Mohave Tournament, but Chino has some decent wins, including a 3-1 win over a Torrance North team in Arizona that just beat No. 20 Poly.
18. (NR) Canyon (Anaheim) 8-3
With so many teams losing, the Comanches break into the rankings despite a 3-2 loss to Great Oak at the Best of the West. They did have a win over previous No. 20 El Modena in the event’s second game. All their losses are to teams ranked ahead of them and they do have a win over the Saugus team that just beat Pacifica, but similar to OCVarsity.com we’re putting them behind Pacifica.
19. (11) Cypress 11-1-1
The Centurions have to drop after a tie with Mira Costa and a loss to Dana Point Dana Hills. Still, with what’s been happening early on in the season, a loss and a tie doesn’t put them behind any teams on the bubble.
20. (18) Chino Hills 10-4
The girls from Chino Hills lost 5-4 to Fullerton Rosary before a 10-0 rout of Fullerton. They’re staying in since Rosary is a team with a solid resume and Chino Hills’ other losses were to out of state teams in Arizona and to Santiago.
Teams That Dropped Out: Previous No. 14 Sheldon (Sacramento), No. 15 Poly (Riverside), No. 19 Bonita Vista (Chula Vista), No. 20 El Modena (Orange).
On the Bubble: Alhambra (Martinez) 1-0, Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 5-2-1, Carlmont (Belmont) 8-2, Carondelet (Concord) 8-1, Central (Fresno) 7-2, Colton 3-1, El Capitan (Lakeside) 3-4, El Modena (Orange) 6-5, Elk Grove 6-4, Foothill (Santa Ana) 5-3, Frontier (Bakersfield) 11-0, Gilroy 7-3, Heritage (Brentwood) 5-1, Kennedy (La Palma) 4-4, Kimball (Tracy) 6-1, Lakewood 5-3, Leigh (San Jose) 5-2, Livermore 3-1, Los Alamitos 7-5, Lutheran (Orange) 9-4, Notre Dame (Salinas) 10-1, Poly (Riverside) 9-2, Petaluma 3-1, Roosevelt (Eastvale) 7-3, Rosary (Fullerton) 8-3, San Benito (Hollister) 4-1, Saugus 8-4, Sheldon (Sacramento) 5-2, Sierra (Manteca) 9-0, Soquel 9-1, Torrey Pines (San Diego) 4-4-2, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 1-3, Valencia 6-3, Wheatland 12-1-1
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Note: Mark Tennis and Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend