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Mowatt Takes Place Among Elite

June 26, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

One doesn't have to look too deep in the Southern Section record book to make the connection between Taryne Mowatt and Lisa Fernandez.

At the completion of their high school careers, Mowatt, the Corona Santiago pitcher, and Fernandez, the Olympian who, along with Michele Granger helped change the way softball was played, were tied with 69 shutouts.

Mowatt's final shutout delivered a Southern Section Division II title to her team and The Times' softball player of the year award to herself.

"When she first came, she wanted to know about all the records," said Santiago Coach John Perez, who has raised more than a few eyebrows by pitching Mowatt as much as he did the last four seasons.

"When you have a player that's that good, that caliber, you want to make sure she gets every opportunity to be the best she can be. That's all we've given her, the opportunity."

There are, of course, records held by Lakewood St. Joseph's Fernandez and Placentia Valencia's Granger that will never be matched. They were dominant in the late 1980s in a game that was still developing.

"If she played in that era, Mowatt would have been of the same caliber," said Richard Amberik, a high school softball coach in the Southland since 1968 who has been at Manhattan Beach Mira Costa the last 11 seasons. "If all three were pitching at the same time, all three would be alongside each other in the record book."

Mowatt, who will play for Arizona, ends her high school career with a 91-16 record and an 0.33 earned-run average over four seasons. Her final victory was a two-hitter against Corona that delivered this year's most difficult title to win. In it, she pitched six perfect innings, giving up only back-to-back singles in the third inning of a 3-0 victory.

Had Mowatt not been sidelined for a week after suffering a deep bruise on her pitching shoulder -- courtesy of a line drive off the bat of Norco's Ursula Lopez -- her strikeouts (1,281 in 816 innings in her career) would likely have surpassed the 1,294 by Jocelyn Forest of Santa Maria Righetti for sixth on the all-time section list.

Had she not missed those four games -- all won by Santiago, two of them shutouts -- Mowatt would probably have surpassed record-holder Forest, who won 94 from 1995 to '98.

And, perhaps, if she had four more games, she would have surpassed Fernandez and San Bernardino Cajon's Lana Moran (71) for second place in shutouts.

Few future pitchers will be able to match Mowatt's totals. She pitched 589 1/3 consecutive innings before being hit by Lopez's line drive in the fifth game of the season. She pitched every inning of the remaining 20 games upon her return.

Mowatt ended the season with a 24-3 record and averaged 11.4 strikeouts per seven innings.

Her 0.39 ERA was inflated because she gave up three of her 11 total earned runs allowed in a 7-6 quarterfinal victory over Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula in a game in which Santiago contended opponents stole catcher Jessica Long's signals from the outfield. True or not, the eight hits Mowatt gave up in 10 innings in that game were a personal high.

She responded in the next game with a no-hitter and 14 strikeouts in the semifinals against Orange El Modena, 9-0.

She struck out 326 this season, including 21 in eight innings against Division I champion Riverside Poly. Over 201 innings, she walked 22 and opponents batted only .110.

Though it happened last season, she was the last pitcher from California to beat Garden Grove Pacifica, The Times' No. 1 team in the Southland, Cal-Hi Sports' No. 1 team in the state and National Fastpitch Coaches Assn. No. 3 nationally. Santiago finished its season ranked No. 2 in the Southland by The Times, No. 2 in the state and No. 6 nationally.

On offense, Mowatt batted .389 in the leadoff spot. Too valuable to risk injury, she scored only three runs, but her pinch-runners scored 23 more.

And, she won a championship that had eluded her after three years of great expectations.

Asked afterward just how good she was in beating Corona, Mowatt's answer was spot-on. "I was pretty good," she said.

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