JULY 29 UPDATE
CAJUNS NOW HAVE ONE COACH
LAFAYETTE, La. — Stefni Lotief, who has won 601 games in 12 seasons as head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns softball program, has elected to step aside as co-head coach in order to spend more time with her family.
Lotief will remain with the program as a volunteer assistant coach.
Michael Lotief, who has served as co-head coach since 2003, will take over as head coach and a search for a full-time assistant coach will begin immediately.
“After much thought and prayer and after weighing what is in the best interest of my family and just coming to terms with where I am in this stage of my life, I have decided to take a step back from coaching in order to spend more time with my children,” Stefni Lotief said.
“Coaching the softball team has always been a joint venture between Michael and I. Our roles and responsibilities have changed, evolved and shifted over the years, but we have always done things together. Our titles and roles will change, but our commitment to this community, our university and our student-athetes will not.“
As part of her decision, Stefni Lotief has accepted a position at Ascension Episcopal School in nearby Youngsville, where her children, Chelsea and Andrew, attend.
“The timing is right because we are at the end of another successful cycle of players who have excelled in the classroom and on the field,” Stefni Lotief said. “I know in my heart that this softball program is in great shape and good hands.”
30 players named ESPNHS All-Americans
By Mark Tennis and Doug Huff
Taylore Fuller, Chiefland (Fla.) Sr.
The Class 1A State Player of the Year posted some eye-opening numbers at the plate. A Florida recruit, Fuller batted .778 with 14 home runs, nine doubles, six triples and 33 RBIs while scoring 52 runs for the small school program. She also is one of the nation’s highest-ranked college prospects at the catching position.
Cali Lanphear, Montgomery (Texas) Sr.
Recently named the Class 4A Player of the Year by the Texas Sports Writers Association, Lanphear also is the 2012 All-Montgomery County Player of the Year. She nearly led the Bears to the state final for the first time in school history. As a power hitter, there were few in the nation like her as she smacked 21 homers with 64 RBIs and batted .600. Lanphear has signed with Texas A&M.
Janelle Lindvall, West Ranch (Valencia, Calif.) Sr.
The Oregon-bound standout hit .524 with six home runs and 28 RBIs to earn all-state and all-region honors. Her junior season hitting stats were better, but she excels in all other facets of the position and plays in one of the toughest leagues in Southern California.
Nancy Bowling, Royal (Simi Valley, Calif.) Sr.
A California standout since she was named State Freshman of the Year in 2009, Bowling concluded her career by going 25-3 with a 0.43 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 163 innings. She bounced back from a left knee injury that caused her to miss one season and is regarded as one of the top incoming recruits at Arizona. Bowling, who already has been named the Los Angeles Daily News Player of the Year, also had a .366 batting average with 20 RBIs.
Lilly Fecho, Glenbard North (Carol Stream, Ill.) Sr.
The 6-foot, left-handed pitcher went 27-3 this season with a 0.88 ERA and had 254 strikeouts in 192 innings. The Gatorade State Player of the Yearalso batted .393 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs while scoring 28 runs. Fecho will play next at Purdue.
Tori Finucane, Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) Jr.
The Gatorade State Player of the Year led the Lady Knights to a 27-1 record, a Virginia Independent Schools’ title, and the No. 43 ranking in the final POWERADE FAB 50. A Missouri recruit, she was 27-1 on the mound with a 0.09 ERA and 332 strikeouts in 161 innings. She also batted .363.
Erin Gabriel, Poland Seminary (Poland, Ohio) Sr.
The four-year starter and Tennessee recruit led the Bulldogs to a 26-3 record and No. 21 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. A two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior, which were the same years the Bulldogs won the Division II state title, Gabriel compiled a 16-2 record this season with 232 strikeouts and batted .461 with 28 RBIs and 35 runs scored.
Holly Kern, Plano East (Plano, Texas) Sr.
A force in the circle and at the plate, she was named District 8-5A MVP and Dallas Area Player of the Year by Dallas Morning News. Kern led the Panthers to the Class 5A state semifinals. In the circle, she went 33-4 while at the plate she hit .365 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs. She is headed next to the University of Texas.
Madi Schreyer, Woodinville (Wash.) Jr.
Named the Gatorade State Player of the Yearin Washington, she helped lead the Falcons to the Class 4A state championship and a perfect 26-0 season. In addition to her own perfect record of 21-0, Schreyer’s ERA of 0.28 also was exceptional. She also whiffed 189 batters in 123 innings. Schreyer already has committed to Stanford and also already is a member of the Canadian Junior National Team.
Chelsea Wilkinson, Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.) Sr.
The four-time all-state selection and two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior makes the ESPNHS All-American team for a second straight season. Although the team didn’t win another Class 4A state title, it did finish 28-2 and was No. 6 in the final POWERADE FAB 50. A Georgia recruit, Wilkinson was 24-1 this season with 333 strikeouts and a 0.26 ERA. She also set two state career records with 112 wins and 84 shutouts while striking out 1,406 batters.
Bianka Bell, Chamberlain (Tampa, Fla.) Sr.
The Gatorade State Player of the Year led the Chiefs to a 27-5 record and the Class 7A title. The team also ended at No. 12 in the POWERADE FAB 50. The shortstop and LSU recruit posted big numbers with a .731 batting average, 11 homers, 35 RBIs and 52 runs scored. She batted .727 in the playoffs alone.
Emily Carosene, Pine Castle Christian (Orlando, Fla.) Sr.
She’s a very rare seven-year starter as she goes to a school and plays in a state in which seventh-graders and eighth-graders can play on the varsity. The Auburn recruit and Central Florida Player of the Year put up huge numbers for the Class 2A state runner-up team. Carosene batted .645 with 14 doubles, 10 triples and seven homers. She also had 24 RBIs while scoring 51 runs. She played on three state title-winning teams.
Nikki Girard, Chino Hills (Calif.) Sr.
The CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year led the Huskies to a 32-3 record and No. 9 finish in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings. Girard, who is headed to Arizona State in the fall, had a .423 batting average with seven homers, 12 doubles and 37 RBIs. She’s been a four-year starter and set school records for runs scored, hits, doubles and RBIs.
Sierra Romero, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.) Sr.
A finalist for the California Ms. Softball Player of the Year, Romero also earned herself a spot in the state record book as she hit 21 homers, the second-best single-season total. Romero, who also had 45 career homers, hit .556 with 38 runs scored, 23 walks and 54 RBIs. She will be headed to Michigan next season.
Lindsey Schmeiser, Northern (Owings, Md.) Sr.
The Washington D.C. Metro Player of the Year led the Patriots to a 25-0 record, a record fifth straight Class 3A state title and the No. 17 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. The Maryland recruit also batted .641 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 49 runs scored.
Allison Stewart, Olathe East (Olathe, Kan.) Soph.
One of just two sophomores to earn a first-team All-American selection, Stewart was assured of such a high honor by leading Olathe East (24-1) to the Class 6A state title and being named Gatorade State Player of the Year. She set a school record with 52 RBIs and also hit .532 with five homers. As a pitcher, she added a 13-0 record with 118 strikeouts and a 0.20 ERA. Stewart has committed to Arkansas.
Kelsey Stewart, Maize (Kan.) Sr.
The “other” Stewart from Kansas to land on the All-American team happens to be one of the top 10 major college prospects in the nation. Kelsey racked up eye-popping totals with her bat – a .649 average, 12 homers, 65 RBIs — and was amazing in the field. She is headed next to LSU.
Melissa Taukeiaho, Etiwanda (Calif.) Sr.
Before heading to the University of Washington, Taukeiaho earned her second straight all-state selection and also has been named All-Inland Valley MVP. She scored 41 runs and drove in 39 and also finished with 16 homers and a .543 average. Taukeiaho also had five wins inside the circle for the Eagles.
Darian Tautalafua, Carson (Calif.) Sr.
After hitting 15 home runs as a junior, Tautalafua hammered 17 homers as a senior and tied the state career record with 53. She also batted .490 this season, scored 50 times and knocked in 45 runs. Tautalafua was named the CIF L.A. City Section Player of the Year and will play next at Long Beach State.
Kayla Bonstrom, Canyon del Oro (Tucson, Ariz.) Sr.
The Arizona Daily Republic Big Schools Player of the Year could have been listed in the multi-purpose category since she was the top pitcher for her team in 2012, but she’s mostly known as an outfielder and that’s where she’ll play next season at Stanford. Bonstrom led Canyon del Oro, which finished 13th in the POWERADE FAB 50, to the Division II state championship by hitting a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning of the final game against Sunrise Mountain (Peoria, Ariz.), and then she retired the side in order. Bonstrom finished the season with a .603 batting average, ripped 16 homers and also had 18 doubles and 63 RBIs.
Steph Hartness, Niceville (Fla.) Sr.
The Class 6A State Player of the Year led the Eagles to a 29-3 record, a state runner-up finish, and a No. 34 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. A Florida State recruit, she batted .518 with four home runs and 36 RBIs.
Andrea Hawkins, Bay City (Texas) Sr.
Rated by some experts as the No. 1 prospect in the entire nation, this talented outfielder will be headed to play for Alabama next season. During her senior season, Hawkins hit .539, and during her final two seasons of high school ball, she struck out a total of just two times. As a senior, she also stole 34 bases. She was recently selected to the Class 4A All-State Team by the Texas Sports Writers Association.
Haylie McCleney, Mortimer Jordan (Kimberly, Ala.) Sr.
The Gatorade Player of the Yearin Alabama and the Alabama Sportswriters Association Player of the Year batted .692 for the Class 5A state runner-up. The Alabama recruit also had 90 hits, including nine home runs with 64 runs scored and 65 stolen bases. McCleney struck out only once during her entire senior season.
FIRST-TEAM MULTI-PURPOSE (Hitting, pitching, fielding)
Vanessa Alvarez, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) Sr.
After being named player of the year for the second straight season by the San Jose Mercury News, Alvarez is headed to Cal where she could play second base. Her pitching helped Mitty finish 28-2 with a No. 8 final FAB 50 ranking. She went 25-1 with a 0.86 ERA and 197 strikeouts. At the plate, Alvarez batted leadoff and shined with a .450 average and .491 on-base mark.
Kenzie Conrad, Keystone (LaGrange, Ohio) Sr.
The Gatorade State Player of the Year and Akron recruit led the Wildcats to a 32-0 record, a Division II state title and a No. 7 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. She was 25-0 on the mound with a 0.74 ERA and 178 strikeouts. She also batted .485 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs.
Lexi Davis, Porter Ridge (Indian Ridge, N.C.) Sr.
The ESPNHS National Player of the Year and Gatorade state honoree pitched every game for the 33-1 Class 4A state champion Pirates. The team also finished No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50. The Auburn recruit, four-year starter and three-time all-state choice posted a 0.23 ERA and batted .450 with eight homers and 42 RBIs.
Emily Lockman, Norco (Calif.) Sr.
Lockman’s 0.35 ERA may be surpassed by other top pitchers around the nation, but none of those pitchers faced the type of opposition that Lockman did. Her pitching and hitting led Norco (31-2) to the 2012 FAB 50 national title and she already has been selected as the Ms. Softball Player of the Year for the state. Lockman also shut out more opponents (22) than batters were walked (11). As a batter, she shined with a .389 average and had four homers and 30 RBIs. The 4.0 GPA student-athlete will play next at Nebraska.
Breanna Macha, Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.) Soph.
Despite being just a sophomore, Macha pitched like a senior as she was named to the All-Arizona first team by The Arizona Republic. Leading the Mountain Lions to their second straight state championship, a 35-3 record and No. 3 ranking in the final POWERADE FAB 50, Macha went 14-2 as a pitcher with a 1.24 ERA. At the plate, she hit .440, drove in 47 runs and hit 10 home runs.
Erica Nunn, Holly Springs (N.C.) Sr.
The four-year starter and South Florida recruit helped the Golden Hawks to a Class 4A state runner-up finish. She was 22-5 on the mound and struck out 335 batters. At the plate, she hit .612. Career-wise, the left-handed pitcher won 73 games with 1,068 strikeouts.
Heather Stearns, Hebron (Carrollton, Texas) Sr.
Before heading to Baylor next year, Stearns was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Texas as the Hawks reached the Class 5A Region I finals. At the plate, she hit .415 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs, which included a four-homer game in a 13-4 win over Pilot Point. In the circle, she went 18-9 with a 1.29 ERA and struck out 313 batters in 190 innings.
Katie Browne, Zachary (La.) Sr.
Erin Shireman, Lutheran South (Pearland, Texas) Sr.
Maryssa Becker, North Medford (Medford, Ore.) Jr.
Lindsey Fadnek, Coalfield (Tenn.) Sr.
Johanna Grauer, Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) Soph.
Cheridan Hawkins, Anderson (Calif.) Sr.
Katie Marks, Katy (Texas) Sr.
Samantha Martin, Chiles (Tallahassee, Fla.) Jr.
Taylor Nowlin, Sunrise Mountain (Peoria, Ariz.) Jr.
Shelby Turnier, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Sr.
Bryanna Blanco, Maryville (Tenn.) Sr.
Kelsey Dominik, Kingsway Regional (Woolwich Township, N.J.) Sr.
Gabrielle Maurice, Johansen (Modesto, Calif.) Jr.
Erin Pond, Keystone (La Grange, Ohio) Sr.
Alex Powers, Eau Gallie (Melbourne, Fla.) Sr.
Kylie Reed, Norco (Calif.) Jr.
Kylie Johnson, Kankakee (Ill.) Sr.
Siera Phillips, Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.) Sr.
Natalie Sheffey, Daniel Boone (Gray, Tenn.) Jr.
Megan Sorlie, Andover Central (Andover, Kan.) Sr.
Katie St. Pierre, Flower Mound (Texas) Sr.
Alyson Ambler, Walla Walla (Wash.) Sr.
Brooke Boetjer, South Putnam (Greencastle, Ind.) Sr.
Katie Brignac, John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.) Soph.
Briana Combs, Ladywood (Livonia, Mich.) Sr.
Kristen Davenport, Deer Park (Texas) Sr.
Kelsey Nunley, Soddy-Daisy (Tenn.) Sr.
Nisa Ontiveros, Ridgeview (Bakersfield, Calif.) Sr.
Kenedy Urbany, O’Connor (Northside, Texas) Jr.
CAL POLY ADDS VECCHIONE AS ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Eighth-year head coach Jenny Condon and the Cal Poly Athletics Department solidified the Mustang softball coaching staff on Monday afternoon with the announcement that Gina Vecchione has joined the program as an associate head coach ahead of the 2013 season.
Vecchione, who will work primarily with Cal Poly’s hitters and outfielders and coach first base, arrives on the central coast after serving as an assistant for 13 seasons at UCLA (2000-12). With Vecchione on staff, the Bruins captured Women’s College World Series championships in 2003, 2004 and 2010. Vecchione helped the 2010 UCLA championship squad set school records for home runs (108), slugging percentage (.602), on-base percentage (.432) and walks (244).
The Bruins, who appeared in the Women’s College World Series championship game or series six times during Vecchione’s tenure, also captured conference titles in 2002, 2006 and 2009. With Vecchione in the dugout, the Bruins produced a 609-160-1 (.791) record with UCLA’s staff earning NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year praise in 2004 and 2010.
Vecchione fills the role vacated by Linda Garza, who departed the Mustang program in June to accept the head coaching position at UC Riverside. Assistant Ani Nyhus, entering her seventh year as Cal Poly’s pitching coach in 2013, completes the Mustang staff.
“Gina’s resume speaks for itself. She’s excelled as a player and coach at every level in our sport and her experience of playing and coaching with national championship programs will be invaluable to our players,” said Condon, who served as an assistant coach alongside Vecchione at Oregon State during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. “As a player, Gina was an incredible hitter and outfielder. However, what really sets Gina apart is her passion and enthusiasm for the game. Nobody loves the game more than Gina and she has the unique ability to instill that love in her players.
“I’ve had the pleasure of playing for her and coaching with her,” added Condon, who won three National Women’s Fastpitch League titles with the California Commotion under Vecchione. “I know from first-hand experience that Gina can improve any player or coach that she works with. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her again and I’m excited to see where she can help lead the Mustangs. She exudes all of the principles of the Mustang Way.”
A three-time All-Pacific Region selection as a UCLA outfielder (1980-82), Vecchione is one of only four Bruins to have a number retired (2). After helping UCLA to the first NCAA championship as a senior in 1982, Vecchione was named to the All-Women’s College World Series team and as an All-American. As a junior in 1981, Vecchione led UCLA in doubles (10) and RBI (21).
Vecchione, a 1997 inductee into the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame, began her coaching career as a volunteer assistant at UCLA. A member of the 1983 United States National Team that earned a silver medal at the Pan American Games, Vecchione was a seven-time All-ASA selection with the Raybestos Brakettes (Stratford, Conn.) and assisted the club to eight national championships in 12 seasons. She finished as the leading batter at the 1988 ASA national tournament with a .444 average.
At the collegiate level, Vecchione spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Oregon State (1995-99) before accepting a position with UCLA. During her final season in Corvallis alongside Condon, Vecchione helped the Beavers advance to the NCAA Regional championship game where Oregon State fell a victory shy of advancing to the program’s first Women’s College World Series.
DIAMONDS, RACERS SPLIT SERIES IN FINAL GAME SHUTDOWN
Written by Sam Santos
Firestone Stadium, Akron, Ohio – July 29, 2012 – The Carolina Diamonds rallied hard with nine hits and seven RBIs to take the final game of the series against the Akron Racers this weekend, 7-4.
Diamonds second baseman Natalie Villarreal (.234) started out the game with a double to place her on base with Amanda Kamekona (.291) who was walked immediately after. Third baseman Kelsi Weseman (.333) drove home both runners with a two RBI single.
The Diamonds gained two more runs in the second inning with Kamekona’s two-run home run to give the Diamonds a 4-0 lead. Racers third baseman Kelley Montalvo (.132) responded by blasting a 3-2 pitch over the fence with two outs and two base runners on. This tied up the game at four runs a piece in the second inning.
Racers centerfielder Lisa Modglin flashed her defensive leather, denying both Villarreal and Bianca Mejia (.200) a home run and an extra base hit by pulling both fly balls back over the fence in remarkable catches during the game.
Racers pitcher Kristina Thorson got the start for Akron and ran into trouble in the first two innings. She was behind on every batter and allowed a double, two walks, and four runs scored in this appearance. Thorson was shortly relieved by Hillary Bach (L 4-6) who ended up giving up three hits and two runs to the Diamonds offense for the loss and final score of 7-4.
The Racers continue their season next weekend, August 2-4, at USSSA Florida Pride. Games can be viewed live at www.profastpitch.com.
Editor’s note: Softball coach Mary Nutter died of heart failure on July 24 while on vacation in Colorado. She was a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
No one loved the sport of softball more than Mary Nutter. Every player that picked up a ball, every coach that gave a word of encouragement, and every fan that was bitten with the fastpitch bug were all in her heart. She loved the game and gave back to the game continually from her days of playing as a young child, to her hall of fame playing days, to her advocacy as a pioneer with the NFCA, to her legendary and innovative ideas about educating coaches and players thru camps and clinics.
Mary Nutter passed away on July25th when her heart stopped functioning. I believe she so loved the sport of softball and the United States of America that her heart could not take the start of the London Olympic Games knowing that softball would not be on the agenda of sports. I will never forget the joy and exhilaration that exuded from her during the Atlanta Games in 1996 when the USA captured the first Olympic Gold medal in the sport of softball. I truly believe it was one of her most cherished moments. And she had so many cherished moments with a life filled with amazing accomplishments and close friends.
To meet Mary is to know Mary. She held back nothing when meeting someone. You instantly felt connected, valued, and in her circle of friends. And she touched so many lives from the very young to the very old. She would call it like she saw it, and was horrible at holding her tongue when she disliked something. She could give you a compliment and a harsh reality check in the same breath and then make you laugh.
Laughter was one of her greatest gifts. She could laugh at herself with utter self-confidence and loved to tell jokes. Whether those jokes were corny, oddly humorous, or quirky, her delivery of the punch line always made you smile. She was one of the most optimistic people I have known, even when there was no reason to be optimistic. Her perseverance and tenacity so inspired me from the first moment I met her. She saw in me something that I did not know I had, the ability to talk in front of large groups and spread a message about the game I loved.
When she asked me to speak at my first coaches’ clinic, I said that I was not sure I would be any good. She replied that everyone in the room will want to know what’s in your head Mister. MISTER…,that is how she always addressed me in person, on the phone or in an email. When she said “Listen Mister,” I would listen and believe in every word that followed. She inspired me to think big, dream big, not to look back, keep my focus on what I can do and not on what I cannot.
She could and did accomplish anything she set out to do. She lived her life unashamed, unabashed, unapologetic and devoutly faithful in belief in God. Her life was so filled in giving to others, and giving back to the sport she loved and mostly to the people that loved her. She did not talk about her personal life but lived with such integrity and honesty in all that she did. Her sexuality was a fact but never a topic. She focused always on what she could do for others and not what others cared to know about her.
When I approached her last year to introduce a topic of homosexuality and homophobia in sport at one of her coaches’ clinics, she didn’t hesitate to encourage me to follow my heart. “Speak on the topic as it relates to coaching and it will work” , her words gave me strength. She never doubted in me. She always thanked me for my passion when talking about how I can make a difference. It was never about herself, but it was always about everything she had in her precious heart.
This is what she did best, empower those around her to give more than they knew they could. She was an angel on earth with a devilish humor. I know she will be working her magic in Heaven and will never miss a chance to watch a softball game and a play at the plate on a throw from the outfield. She will find a way to get softball back in the Olympic games. Our Angel in the Outfield is now Our Angel in Heaven. We love and miss you Mary.