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2001 SOFTBALL PREVIEW

Special Delivery

Switching Pitch From 'Caring' to 'Killer' Is All in a Day's Work for Foothill's Fossatti

February 27, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are gems everywhere one looks on the Foothill softball team. But make no mistake, Courtney Fossatti is the crown jewel in a lineup that may be as talented as any in county history.

"In my opinion," said Mater Dei Coach Ed Ulloa, "she's the face of Foothill softball."

It's a face that is often smiling and encouraging, one that is confident and caring.

But there's a difference when Fossatti puts her game face on.

"When she gets in the pitcher's circle," said her coach, Joe Gonzalez, "she's a killer."

This team is under Fossatti's watch. Foothill may have more talent, more speed, more options, than any county team before it, but no one questions her leadership. During practices, when players move from station to station, if a teammate must stop to tie a shoe, Fossatti notices. No one advances until Fossatti says so. Until the shoe is tied.

"We do everything together," Fossatti said. "We run together, we practice together and we win together."

There has been a lot of winning in the last four years, but little can top last season.

Foothill finished 33-2 and won the Southern Section Division I title by beating Mater Dei pitcher Tia Bollinger, the national player of the year. In doing so, the Knights rose to the top of nearly every poll.

But Fossatti, who posted a 23-1 record with a 0.42 earned-run average, wasn't pitching at the end of the championship game. She was in right field, having been replaced two innings earlier by Elizabeth Bendig, who is also a senior this season.

Fossatti left after allowing two hits in six-plus innings, but an uncharacteristic three walks.

"Would I have liked to have been in there? Yeah," Fossatti said. "But the reaction [to winning], and the championship ring doesn't make it disappointing at all. That's totally what team play is all about, doing what the team needs. That's what I was up for."

When it comes to team play, the Knights have a lot of parts that make a whole.

Fossatti is one of four Foothill players who were National Fastpitch Coaches Assn. All-Americans last season. The others are senior Erin Mobley, junior Autumn Champion and sophomore Caitlin Lowe. All but Champion were first-team selections.

Including the designated hitter, nine of Foothill's starters are back this season. Left fielder Amber Dragomir, now at Sacramento State, is the only one who's gone. Every Foothill starter was a first-team All-Century League selection.

"Without them, I wouldn't be as successful as I am," said Fossatti, who considers herself lucky to be around such talent and credits junior catcher Jamie Dotson for much of her success. "What's weird is that all of us realize how good we are, and it's just a matter of playing up to our potential.

"Last year, our one goal was to win [the section title]. Then all of a sudden, we were state champions and national champions. This year, our one goal is to win [the section title]."

Fossatti's next stop, after this season, will be Arizona, one of the elite college softball programs in the country. She plans to major in communications and pursue a career in public relations or broadcasting.

"I hope my [softball] career isn't over in five years," she said. "I'd like to try to play internationally. I'd like to represent the country in the Olympics or World Championships. I just want to be a part of it. I've grown up watching those ladies play. The respect I have for them--softball has grown so much--it makes me so proud."

Rosary High's Dana Kenney has played on the same travel team as Fossatti, the Worth Firecrackers, and played against her in high school games.

"She has great movement on all her pitches, and she has really good placement," Kenney said. "Her curveball can be lethal. She doesn't throw as hard as pitchers like Natalie King [formerly of Fountain Valley] or Tia Bollinger, but she's just as hard to hit."

Last season, opponents batted .079 against Fossatti.

Fossatti also hit .360. Batting third in the lineup, she scored 22 runs, drove in a team-high 29 and stole 15 bases.

None of this surprises Gonzalez, whose business interests allow him to experience all types of corporate success stories.

"When her sister, Lindsay, was a senior and Courtney was a freshman, Lindsay corrected her and Courtney snapped back, 'I know what I'm doing,' " Gonzalez said. "She can hold her own. She battles.

"Courtney would be one of the real women leaders in whatever endeavor she goes into."

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