NATION’S TOP HS TEAMS TO MEET
A pair of MaxPreps All-American pitchers will be center stage when the top two teams in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Softball Rankings square off on Saturday
Riding a 65-game winning streak, No. 1 Northern (Owings, Md.) has won the showdown the last two years, while No. 2 O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) has won 31 straight games since losing to Northern in 2012. O’Connell is 15-0 this season.
Each pitcher won her respective state’s Gatorade Player of the Year award in 2012. Missouri has signed Finucane, a senior. Behind Finucane, O’Connell won the Virginia Independent Schools state championship. Cummings is a junior who led Northern to the Maryland’s 3A state title last year and has committed to Penn State.
“With both pitchers pitching so well, runs will be at a premium,” said Northern coach Robert Earl Radford, who has watched his team outscore its opponents 96-0 in 12 games this season.
In her dozen shutouts, Cummings has allowed just eight hits and has 178 strikeouts in 73 innings (245 batters). Opponents are hitting just .034 against her and she has pitched every inning for Northern this season.
Finucane is 13-0 and has an ERA of 0.09, having allowed just one earned run this season. She has allowed 19 base hits in 77 innings and has 159 strikeouts. She has 10 shutouts.
O’Connell’s Tommy Orndorff doesn’t want his team looking ahead, noting his team’s four league games this week prior to Saturday’s non-league matchup.
“Saturday at Northern will mean very little unless we take care of business between now and then, meaning four WCAC games this week,” said Orndorff. “In Monday’s matchup with Paul VI, first place in the league is at stake. And those other three WCAC teams cannot be taken for granted, or we could find ourselves in trouble.”
Each team has an impressive offense. Northern is hitting .345 as a team and O’Connell is hitting .387. Leading Northern are Kassidy Cross (.522), Erin Adams (.452) and Carleigh Ruleman (.417). Kierstie Schaefer leads with 20 RBIs.
Northern, which will host Saturday’s showdown, has won the last two games by one run and needed nine innings to win, 2-1, in 2011.
The game also features a number of future college players. For Northern many small-school commits will play, and for O’Connell, Finucane, Ferraro (North Carolina) and others will play at the next level.
Over the past 23 years, Bishop O’Connell has captured the Virginia Independent Schools state title 14 of the past 15 years. Northern is seeking its 10th state title and sixth-straight.
While Northern and O’Connell continued their winning streaks, a pair of Top 10 teams suffered defeats and dropped to the bottom two spots of the Top 25 Poll. Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.), ranked No. 1 at the beginning of the season, fell to No. 24 and Coronado (Lubbock, Texas) fell to No. 25 with narrow losses last week.
New to the Top 25 this week are No. 19 North Johnston (Kenly, N.C.), off to a 16-0 start, and No. 23 is 31-2 La Grange (Texas), winner of 26 straight. La Grange last lost on Feb. 16 to No. 13 Pearland.
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Softball Rankings
1. (1 last week) Northern (Owings, Md.), 12-0
Cummings struck out 28 in a pair of five-inning, no-hit games and with four shutouts for the week, Northern has outscored its foes 96-0. Cummings has a dozen shutouts in 2013. Northern took a 65-game winning streak to Leonardtown (Md.) on Monday.
2. (2) Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.), 15-0
It was a busy week for O’Connell with four wins, including a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over McLean on Saturday. O’Connell hosted Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) on Monday.
3. (3) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 20-0
With an 8-7 win over Valley Christian and a 5-3 triumph over Wilcox (Santa Clara), Mitty won its 34th game in a row. The Monarchs visit Presentation (San Jose) on Wednesday.
4. (5) Mission Viejo (Calif.), 21-1
The Diablos recorded shutout wins over Tesoro and San Clemente to run their win streak to 17. Opponents have scored only 31 runs this season against them. They visit El Toro (Lake Forest) on Thursday.
5. (7) Barbers Hill (Mt. Belvieu, Texas), 28-1
With a 6-0 shutout of New Caney and a 4-1 win over Summer Creek, the Eagles ran their win streak to a dozen. Their lone loss this season was by one run.
6. (8) Curtis (River Ridge, La.), 29-1
Since having its winning streak stopped at 59, Curtis has won three straight, including a 3-0 win over Mamou in the regional finals. Curtis moves on to Friday’s Louisiana 2A quarterfinals.
7. (9) El Diamante (Visalia, Calif.), 22-1-1
Sierra Hyland pitched a one-hitter and Stevi Johnson drove in the game’s only run in a 1-0 win over Golden West, as the Miners’ win streak grew to 13. Hyland is 18-0 this season. The Miners visit Mt. Whitney (Visalia) on Wednesday.
8. (10) Lake City (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), 11-0
With its 9-1 win over Coeur d’Alene last week, the Timberwolves avenged their 2012 state title game loss. Home runs by Lindsey Willmon, Dakota Wilson and Casey Casey Stangel led the hitting. The teams played a doubleheader Tuesday.
9. (11) Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.), 11-0
The Eagles ran their win streak to 60 with a trio of wins as Steph Thomas and Rachel Pollard combined on a one-hitter in a 12-0 win over Passaic, and Thomas pitched wins over Ramapo and Allentown. Ally Vergona had four hits in the 6-2 win over Allentown. The Eagles visit Paramus Catholic (Paramus) on Wednesday.
10. (15) Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.), 26-1
The Huskies extended their winning streak to 19 with shutout victories over Lake Mary and Spruce Creek (Port Orange). They play Sandalwood (Jacksonville) on Thursday.
11. (16) Niceville (Fla.), 25-1
A pair of shutout victories extended Niceville’s winning streak to 19. And in the process, the Eagles won the district title.
13. (13) Pearland (Texas), 31-2
Samantha Show pitched a three-hitter and struck out 11 as the Oilers defeated Manvel 6-0 to avenge an earlier season loss. Sydney McKay had two RBIs in the win. The Oilers open the playoffs next week.
14. (14) Woodinville (Wash.), 13-1
The Falcons recorded wins over Issaquah, 12-2, and Redmond, 12-5, last week. They played Monday at Eastlake and play Thursday at Roosevelt.
15. (18) Sunrise Mountain (Peoria, Ariz.), 29-1
The Mustangs ran their win streak to 23 with shutout wins over Cactus (Glendale, AZ) and Kellis (Glendale, AZ) and then beat Liberty (Peoria, AZ), 11-1. They play at Copper Canyon (Glendale, AZ) on Tuesday.
16. (19) Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.), 20-1
A 17-0 victory over Central Davidson (Lexington) and an 8-2 win over Watauga gives ACHS 18 wins in a row. Last Friday’s game against state-ranked Enka was postponed by tornado warnings. The Cougars host South Caldwell (Hudson) on Wednesday.
17. (20) Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas), 29-2
Mariah Gibson pitched a five-inning no-hitter in a 16-0 win over Cy-Ridge (Houston) and Alysa Dalton and Jordan Rains each drove in four runs. Gibson has 24 wins and a 0.60 ERA this season.
18. (24) Marina (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 20-2
The Vikings beat Newport Harbor, 6-1, Edison (Huntington Beach), 10-0, and Peninsula, 8-1, last week. The Vikings visited Fountain Valley on Monday.
19. (NR) North Johnston (Kenly, N.C.), 17-0
Since losing the state 2A title game in 2012 (2-1), the Panthers have won all 16 games this season by a 192-6 margin and have won their last 10 by shutout. They hosted played Franklinton on Tuesday.
21. (22) Connell (Wash.), 13-0
Senior Ashley Thompson threw two more no-hitters as Connell swept Kiona Benton, 17-0 and 11-0. Thomas threw her third perfect game of the season in the opener and walked one in the second game. Both games were five-inning affairs and Thompson had 24 strikeouts on the day. She added two home runs and nine RBIs from the plate. Thompson has six no-hitters in a row, including three perfect games. Connell plays unbeaten Warden on Saturday.
22. (23) Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.), 26-2
The Lions continued their offensive rampage with a 10-0 win over Boulder Creek to extend their win streak to 15. Centennial (Peoria) visits Mountain Ridge on Wednesday.
23. (NR) La Grange (Texas), 31-2
The Leopards have won 26 straight since losing to No. 13 Pearland (2-0) on Feb. 16. Averaging 10 runs per game, the Leopards are batting .419 as a team. Breanna Homer has 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, and is hitting .528. They host Halletsville on Thursday.
24. (4) Coronado (Lubbock, Texas), 29-2
Lee (Midland) (27-5) handed Monique Garcia her first loss of the season by hitting a pair home runs in a 4-2 affair. Garcia struck out 14 in Coronado’s loss. Postseason play gets under way this week for the Mustangs.
25. (6) Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.), 14-2
The Dons split a pair of 1-0 games, losing to California (San Ramon) and beating San Ramon (Danville). They played at Foothill (Pleasanton) on Tuesday.
Dropped Out This Week: Yorba Linda (Calif.) and Jack Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.).