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High Schools | SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Pacifica's Legaspi on Fast Track to Success

June 22, 2003|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

When Jodie Legaspi signed with UCLA in November, she wasn't thinking about her team's chances of winning a Southern Section Division III championship.

Legaspi was feeling relief -- and excitement -- about the prospect of playing for the college softball team she dreamed about since she was 9. But her signature also provided something else.

"It pumped me up because I knew I had a future ahead of me," she said. "It meant that I was going to move on in my career. It was a moment when you start to fulfill your lifelong dreams and goals."

She has plenty of dreams and goals, but being selected The Times' softball player of the year wasn't on her to-do list. It happened to be a byproduct of a senior season in which she led Garden Grove Pacifica to the Division III title with a 9-3 victory over La Mirada and a No. 1 ranking in the Southland.

The day before she ignited the winning rally against La Mirada, Legaspi was one of only two high school players invited to attend the tryout for the U.S. national team.

"I tried out with Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch, Stacey Nuveman," Legaspi said. "The first day you're awestruck, and then you realize you're right where you should be because you've worked so hard to get there."

Legaspi was the youngest among the 50 athletes there, a girl among women. But that's how she played against opponents her own age, a woman among girls.

She led by example. Against La Mirada three weeks ago, she stretched a single into a double to open the bottom of the sixth inning. By the time the inning was over, she had doubled twice, scored two runs and driven in two runs. It not only secured Pacifica's spot atop The Times' rankings, but also the No. 1 spot statewide and No. 2 nationally in the Student Sports rankings.

"She ignited us," said her coach, Rob Weil. "She's been a go-to person the last four years for us. From the physical to the mental, she's totally complete.

"Sometimes I sit back in the outfield during batting practice and just watch her hit. We've been fortunate to have some quality kids at Pacifica as hitters, Toni Mascarenas [Arizona], Toria Auelua [UCLA], Amanda Freed [UCLA], and she's in that class."

Freed was recently selected to play for the national team, and Legaspi's production certainly indicates that she also knows how to handle a bat.

She batted .533, scored 35 runs and drove in 30 more as the Mariners went 31-2. Over the last three seasons, Legaspi has scored 102 runs and driven in 70.

And her future is one that should include many more runs, hits and RBIs. And maybe a few assists.

"I want to get out of college in four years and make the Olympic team in 2008," Legaspi said. "I want to give back to people. I want to do clinics for kids because that's how I started. I want to make an impact on people's lives and share the joy and love of the game that I've cherished all these years."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

THE TIMES' ALL-STAR SOFTBALL TEAM

*--* P Taryne Mowatt, Corona Santiago Jr Dominating right-hander went 25-4 with 0.16 ERA, 23 shutouts and section-high 385 strikeouts in 217 innings P Brittany Weil, Garden Grove Pacifica So Compiled 28-2 record with 0.33 ERA for Division III champion, as opponents batted only .102 against right-hander C Carissa Jaquish, Redlands East Valley Sr Citrus Belt League MVP batted .451, scored 16 runs and had 23 RBIs in final season before attending Notre Dame 1B Jennifer Curtier, Quartz Hill Sr Despite being continually pitched around, Pacific-signee batted .514 with 28 runs, 24 RBIs and six home runs IF Jodie Legaspi, Garden Grove Pacifica Sr UCLA-bound shortstop and Times' player of the year led team to No. 1 ranking with .533 average, 35 runs and 30 RBIs IF Cambria Miranda, Camarillo Jr Ventura County's top shortstop helped Panthers reach Division I semifinals by batting .511 with 30 runs and 37 RBIs IF Dominique Lastrapes, Laguna Hills Sr Versatile Washington-bound second baseman had 55 hits, batted .570 with 27 runs, 21 RBIs and 32 stolen bases OF Caitlin Lowe, Foothill Sr Arizona-bound leadoff hitter's leadership helped team to No. 4 rankings while batting .506 with 21 runs, 15 RBIs and 23 steals OF Liz Caputo, Riverside Poly Jr Center fielder batted .427 with 27 runs, 22 RBIs, six home runs and 20 stolen bases to help Bears to No. 22 ranking OF Shauna Corso, Woodbridge Sr Integral third batter in powerful lineup helped lead Warriors to Division I title, batting .336 with 20 runs, 20 RBIs UTL Jamee Juarez, Hacienda Heights Wilson Sr Opponents batted .102 against Ohio State-bound right-hander, who went 21-3 with 0.47 ERA, and also batted .482 with 23 runs, 29 RBIs

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