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SOFTBALL / MARTIN HENDERSON

Two Sports Was One Too Many for Her

March 28, 2000|MARTIN HENDERSON

With a college career at Texas ahead of her, Fountain Valley pitcher Natalie King concentrated on softball this year.

The cost? Basketball.

King, who is 6 feet tall, played three years for the Barons, two as a starter, before she decided to give up her second sport to devote more time to her first.

"I know the coaches at Texas loved it," said her father, Steve, who played basketball at Northern Arizona. "If the [basketball] team has a chance to do something in the playoffs, you consider it. But in her case, the sole decision was she wanted to focus on getting herself stronger for softball."

Fountain Valley basketball Coach Carol Strausburg was disappointed, Steve King said. "But the truth is, Natalie wasn't Kristen Mann [of Foothill]. She's not a potential all-CIF player in two sports. And as a pitcher, the amount of work you have to put into it is so significant, you have to find time to go to school sometime."

The basketball team was 9-17, and 7-19 in 1998-99.

King says she has no second thoughts about her choice.

"It definitely helped that I didn't have to worry about basketball," said King, who played forward on the basketball team. "I miss playing, but I don't regret my decision at all.

"There was also a huge risk of getting hurt. In basketball, I had hurt my back in the last game. I don't know if I was willing to risk an injury that wouldn't allow me to play softball my senior year."

She had considered abandoning basketball a year earlier, in fact, but instead stayed on to play one more season with her older sister, Lindsay, a freshman at Concordia.

But there are other King siblings who can continue the family's basketball legacy. Jacquelyn, 14, an eighth-grader at Fulton Middle School, is a basketball and water polo player. Her brother, Taylor, and 11-year-old fifth-grader, is 5-8 and already wears a size-14 shoe.

AROUND THE BASES

* After two seasons of not even fielding a softball team, Corona del Mar finally got to experience a big-game win by beating its rival, Newport Harbor, 3-2, on Wednesday. The Sea Kings' victory, behind freshman Alissa Zoelle, also avenged an earlier 15-3 loss to Newport Harbor. Zoelle pitched, and her double set up Mijanou Pham's two-run single and an RBI by Lauren Loe.

Corona del Mar is 3-5, having also beaten Santa Ana and Bolsa Grande. But last week's win meant the most.

"That meant a lot to the players--you get beat by 12 runs, and two weeks later you've improved enough to play a meaningful game against them," Coach Terry Cristiano said. "We made some key plays. That's what it's going to take for the program to improve."

* Laguna Hills Coach Cary Crouch said he wasn't expecting to finish as high as second place in the Saddleback Valley tournament. "When you're running a tournament," he said, "you never play your best." Fountain Valley should consider that a warning.

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU

Foothill players skipped practice Wednesday to watch Northwestern play the top-ranked team in the country, Washington, at Cal State Fullerton. They saw two teammates from last season do a lot of the work; Northwestern pitcher Lauren Schwendimann won, 4-1, and shortstop Jaime Clark drove in Washington's only run. Northwestern was 8-12, Washington 33-1.

LOOKING AHEAD

Among the best games this week are today's doubleheader, Rosary at Troy, and Wednesday's game between Los Alamitos and No. 5 Kennedy at Cypress Arnold Park.

Although top-ranked Mater Dei will be at the Covina Charter Oak tournament, the better field should be at Mile Square Park for the Baron Classic on Saturday. Held on consecutive weekends, it has emerged as one of the county's best. The first of two rounds begins at 8 a.m., when seventh-ranked Laguna Hills plays last year's Division II champion, Cerritos. Other games of note include third-ranked Fountain Valley against No. 10 El Modena at 10 a.m.; No. 4 Pacifica against Sonora at noon; and a possible second-round matchup, barring upsets, between No. 6 Marina and No. 2 Foothill at 6 p.m. in the last game of the day.

*

If you have an item or idea for the prep softball report, you can fax us at (714)966-5663 or e-mail us at martin.henderson@latimes.com

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