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THE TIMES ORANGE COUNTY PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: SOFTBALL

Together Again

Amanda Freed and Gerald Laird Are Honored for the Second Year in a Row

June 09, 1998|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This may be all you need to know about Amanda Freed. She is accountable for her actions.

"She's class all the way," Foothill Coach Joe Gonzalez said.

Class. Humility. A fastball that blisters paint.

Freed again topped the county in strikeouts and no-hitters, and was once more the county's dominant player as Pacifica won its second consecutive Southern Section Division III title. For her performance, Freed is The Times Orange County player of the year for the second consecutive year.

It's the fourth time she's been a first-team pitcher.

Gonzalez's remark came after Freed refused to use her bad back as an excuse in her 4-0, 11-inning loss to Foothill.

A few games later, Freed pitched only three innings against Fountain Valley, gave up a three-run homer to Lovianne Jung, and refused to admit she was injured.

Then she missed five starts.

"Amanda Freed is accountable for everything she does," Pacifica Coach Rob Weil said. "If she makes a mistake, she'll go back and fix it. She's not one to make excuses. If she makes a mistake, she tries to perfect it the next time out."

Freed, who will play next season at UCLA, has been the model of perfection often during her four-year varsity career.

She was 17-2 this season with a 0.33 earned-run average, and struck out 254 in 127 1/3 innings. She walked 18. Opponents batted just .054.

Freed has seven perfect games in her career, which is sixth in section history. Freed missed out on three perfect games this season when her team committed a seventh-inning error. Freed's 10 no-hitters this season also rank among the best single-season total ever, surpassing Woodbridge's Tiffany Boyd (1987), Valencia's Michele Granger (1988) and Cerritos Gahr's DeDe Weiman (1989).

The names of Boyd, Granger and Weiman are important.

"In 10 years, they're going to be talking about Amanda like they're talking about Granger and Boyd now," Weil said. "It won't be an insult to any of them to include them all in the same sentence."

That's because Freed should be mentioned among the greatest pitchers in county history. She is training with the U.S. National team, and may well find herself in the Olympics. She is regarded as one of the three best age-group pitchers in the nation.

Last week, she was selected by one organization as its first national player of the year.

"I don't know if Amanda will be a Lisa Fernandez, but I think Amanda has a chance to go on to bigger things because of the timing," Weil said. "Granger didn't have the opportunity that Amanda does. There's a lot more that can be accomplished now as a softball player than 10 years ago with marketing and professional leagues."

And for all practical purposes, Freed seems on the fast track to heading down those avenues.

She leaves Pacifica without some of the massive numbers compiled by the greats in Orange County softball's storied past because she shared pitching duties for much of her career, the first three years with Toni Mascarenas (an All-American as a freshman at Arizona) and with junior Jessica Soto this season.

But the numbers are pretty impressive, just the same.

Freed is 63-5 (.926) with a 0.26 ERA and 807 strikeouts (in 463 1/3 innings) in her four seasons. She had winning streaks of 21 and 26 games.

Consistency? The seven runs scored against her came in two innings, a four-run 11th (bases-loaded triple) and a three-run third (home run). In the other 125 innings she pitched, no one scored.

"She's a brilliant kid," Weil said. "She's sitting home right now thinking, 'I made a bad pitch to the No. 4 hitter and I got away with it. I've got to remember to follow through so that it doesn't hurt me down the road.' "

Freed helped herself at the plate, too. She batted .400 with an on-base average of .505, scored 19 runs and drove in 26.

Her excellence wasn't limited to softball, either. She was the Garden Grove League most valuable player in volleyball and soccer, too, and her grade-point average is 4.1.

Freed won her first 21 games on the varsity, lost two in a row and has lost only two non-playoff games since, both this year, both times without making an excuse.

"In my coaching career, I don't think I will ever be able to coach a kid of her caliber offensively and defensively, academically, the whole picture," Weil said. "The kid is phenomenal."

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