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Eight isn't enough

Posted: May 9, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Updated: July 10, 2008 5:02 a.m.

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The only suspense for the Valencia softball team Thursday afternoon was the coin toss. After a 14-0, five inning win at West Ranch to finish in a tie for first place in the Foothill League, every Vikings player took a coin and flipped. The majority had tails. Today at 7:30 a.m. when the real coin is flipped to determine whether Hart or Valencia get the No. 1 seed from the league, the Vikings (24-5, 9-1) will go with tails.

The result of Thursday's game was determined about as fast as the toss. Valencia's first two batters tripled, and the third doubled, leading to an eight run inning and sealing a share of its eight straight league title.

"As a coach you just dream about innings like that," Valencia coach Donna Lee said. "It was an ining where we saw the ball well, we were hitting the heck out of the ball."

That was more than pitcher Jessica Spigner would need. The Tennessee bound senior struck out seven batters and cruised giving up just five hits and no runs. Prior to this season, Spigner played third base, the same position she will hold down as a Volunteer next year. The last time she pitched was in travel ball, from a 40 foot circle. The transition, though Spigner said was "crazy," has turned out pretty smoothe. Every Thursday she goes to Orange County to work with a pitching coach and the results have shown.

"She's just a workhorse on the mound," Lee said. "She pitched a great game, she truly, truly did. She gave up a couple of hits but for the most part I think she kept the batters off balance and she got the big outs when she needed and good pitchers get those strikeouts when they need them, and she did."

Her New Year's resoultion was a little tougher. She gave up drinking soda. To give herself motivation, she held off on consuming soda until the Vikings won the Foothill League. After Thursday's game, Spigner, with a wide smile on her face, was on her way to drinking a Dr. Pepper.

"I'm so pumped," Spigner said.

Coming off a CIF and national championship season, rebuilding isn't in the vocabulary for Valencia. They just reload. The key to the success?

"We love to have fun and we stay relaxed," Spigner said. "I tell my team before every game, ‘there are gonna be hits, they are gonna score runs, we need to stay relaxed and know that we can come back.'"

No comeback necessary for the offense against West Ranch. But the Vikings acted like they needed one.

Spigner, senior Lelani Bernardino, and sophomore Shannon Fitzgerald all had two RBIs and just for good measure, sophomore Annie Dreher belted her first home run of the season in the top of the fifth to score the 14th run of the game.

"This team, they like being around each other and they work hard for each other and that's what it's about, teamwork," Lee said. "And enjoying each other's company and it's not always the same girl every time, it's different girls contributing."

In just its second year of existence, the West Ranch program (5-21, 2-8) is in a building stage. Their season is over but coach Cassandra Perez is looking toward the future.

""It's a process," she said. "Every year we hope to get better."

If she needs a blueprint for how to find success, she need look no further than across the diamond to Lee, who's coached at Valencia for 14 seasons.

"When you start first couple of years it was rocky, but then all of a sudden you see a light at the end of the tunnel and right now the light is still shining," Lee said.

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