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Valencia goes out on top in 1-0 win

June 03, 2007|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

They were at times vulnerable, but almost always proved invincible, and now Valencia has completed one of the most remarkable seasons of softball in state history.

Behind the pitching of Jordan Taylor and a clutch hit by Alyssa Ishibashi, top-seeded Valencia won the Southern Section Division I championship Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Newhall Hart, its rival from the Foothill League, at Barber Park in Irvine.

In doing so, Taylor set a new state standard for best record by a pitcher, winning 32 without a loss. She surpassed Jackie Oakley, who went 31-0 for Huntington Beach Ocean View in 1985.

"It's nice to leave a little bit of a legacy," said the Michigan-bound right-hander who gave up three hits, walked one and struck out 13, giving her 407 in 216 innings this season.

Valencia lost its only other title-game appearance in 2005. Last season, as the top-seeded team, the Vikings were upset in the second round by La Puente Bishop Amat.

This year, they won some of the nation's major tournaments, including the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz., and played one of the strongest schedules in the nation. They are ranked No. 1 in the nation and state by various entities.

Facing Hart (26-7) for the third time, Valencia stranded runners in each of the six innings it battled left-handed sophomore Destiny Rodino (20-5).

But in the fifth, it finally pushed across a run. Lelani Bernardino singled up the middle, took second on a bunt by Megan Foglesong and scored with two out on Ishibashi's blooper down the right-field line.

Ishibashi had two of Valencia's six hits.

And with Hart threatening in the sixth with runners at first and third, second baseman Nicole Matson speared a sharply hit ball off Caitlin Stiglich's bat to prevent a run.

"I thought for a good second the ball was through," Taylor said.

It wasn't, however, and her place in history, as well as Valencia's, was complete.

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