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High Schools | SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Nothing Stopped Turner

June 20, 2002|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The flesh-colored wrapping around her right elbow was hardly noticeable. She never mentioned it after victories or after her final defeat.

Michelle Turner, a La Palma Kennedy senior, never used her injured elbow as an excuse for not being able to throw her full repertoire of pitches. But allowing only three runs over the final 135 innings of the season hardly demanded any excuses.

Turner, The Times' softball player of the year, is as classy as she is dominant.

Turner finished with a 23-5 record, an 0.19 earned-run average, 259 strikeouts, 12 walks--and only three wild pitches--in 221 innings.

Anaheim Loara Coach Scott Weber, whose team faced Kennedy twice in each of the last four years, said Turner was tougher than ever even though she had fewer strikeouts this season.

"She wasn't even the same player as last year," Weber said. "You could see her determination ... the approach that, 'I'll throw my best stuff and if you can hit it, good luck.' She was much more dominating this year than last year."

Last season, when Turner was selected the Orange County player of the year, she was 18-3, had an 0.12 ERA and opponents batted .110 against her in 172 innings.

This season, opponents again batted .110 in 53 more innings.

"I think she pitched the last few games on heart alone," said Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Doug Myers, whose team was shut out by Turner in the Southern Section Division II quarterfinals. "She was limited on some of the pitches she could throw.

"She has a terrific riseball that she used only sparingly because of her elbow injury," he said. "It shows the true champion she is, that she was able to get by with another dimension of her game."

Turner's 2-0 victory over Mater Dei was her 14th consecutive shutout--her 21st of the season.

In her next game, Turner's streak of consecutive scoreless innings ended at 121--three short of the section record--when she allowed a run in the 16th inning against Riverside Poly.

Like the section record-holder, Moreno Valley Valley View's Keira Goerl, Turner will attend UCLA.

"I think she's just beginning to reach her potential," Myers said. "And when she gets to UCLA, she'll really realize that."

The season ended for Turner in the division's championship game. She gave up two runs--one of them earned--in a 2-1 loss to Placentia El Dorado, a team she had shut out twice during Empire League play.

As gracious as she had been in earlier playoff victories, Turner was equally gracious in defeat.

"They just played a little harder than we did," she said, making no excuses.

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