IRVINE — The only similarity between Woodbridge softball pitchers Alison Ward and Stacy Washington is . . . well, they're both pitchers.
Ward is a power pitcher. Washington is a finesse pitcher.
Ward relies on her rise ball. Washington relies on her drop.
Ward loves the indoors and has never been camping. Guess who loves to sleep in tents in the wilderness?
Despite their contrasting styles, both pitchers have the same will to win, and both have achieved positive results for Coach Alan Dugard.
Ward finished 12-6 last season, and Washington went 9-1. Ward struck out more than twice as many batters as Washington. Ward posted a 0.37 earned-run average; Washington's ERA was 0.41.
Each pitcher took a different path to success.
Ward has played softball since she was 6 years old, but admitted it wasn't her first choice when she moved from San Jose to Southern California in 1980.
"I wanted to sign up for soccer, but the sign-ups were closed," Ward said. "So I played softball instead."
Ward showed her talent in her sophomore year at Woodbridge by hitting a county-leading seven home runs. Last season as a junior, she threw two no-hitters.
"Alison has tremendous confidence in all of her pitches," Dugard said. "She's really developed into a mature pitcher."
Washington also has matured since starting softball at a young age, but she needed to put in constant work to stay competitive.
"I've always thrown slow, ever since I was little," Washington said. "I wish I could throw harder like Alison. I go to the gym and try to get stronger, but . . .
"I think for me to be successful, I'll always have to change speeds and hit locations."
Dugard said: "Stacy's a tremendous worker who has made herself into a good pitcher. For example, last season, she didn't throw a rise-ball too well, so we told her that if she really wanted to move to that next level, she'd have to work on a rise.
"She worked on it over the summer, and her rise is really working well now. Stacy just really goes after it."
Ward and Washington work with the same pitching coach, Bill Owens. Owens also tutored Tiffany Boyd, a standout pitcher at Cal State Fullerton and Woodbridge.
Washington and Ward also hope to play softball in college, and both have been contacted by various universities.
Iowa is the only school recruiting both pitchers.
"That was pure coincidence," Ward said. "They said they've never recruited two players from the same team before."
But special players deserve special circumstances, and Dugard's duo creates a dilemma other coaches would love to have.
"I've never had two pitchers before that were both this good with styles that are totally different," Dugard said. "It's challenging to try and figure out which pitcher to (use) when."
Dugard chose Ward in the '91 Southern Section 3-A quarterfinals, and although Ward pitched a one-hitter, the Warriors lost, 2-0, to Chino Don Lugo.
"The whole team got down when we fell behind, 1-0, early," Ward said. "It's tough because in CIF, it's one loss and you're out.
"But I like to pitch under that pressure. This year, I want us to stay together as a team, don't quit on ourselves, and know we can come back."
Ward also got the call Saturday in the championship game of the Fullerton tournament. She struck out eight in Woodbridge's 4-0 victory over Bishop Amat.