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Superwoman Spigner

Valencia’s star was Ms. Everything as pitcher, hitter for CIF-champs

Posted: July 5, 2008 1:17 a.m.
Updated: September 5, 2008 5:03 a.m.

All-Santa Clarita Valley Softball Player of the Year Jessica Spigner, of Valencia High School, was a dominant pitcher and hitter for the Southern Section- CIF Champion Vikings. Spigner, who's headed to play at Tennessee played third base in 2007 when Valencia was named National Champions before switching over to pitcher this season.

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When she steps between the chalked lines of a softball field, Jessica Spigner becomes a different person.

A self-described homebody, she transforms into a character when she runs onto the dirt.

You can call her Superwoman, because she's done it all for the back-to-back Southern Section CIF Champion Valencia Vikings.

"I'm more outgoing on the field," says Spigner, the 2008 All-SCV Softball Player of the Year. "I'm loud and obnoxious sometimes. I'm very pumped up all the time, and sometimes outside of softball it's not that way."

At third base in 2007 she provided the pop in the lineup.

As a pitcher and the cleanup hitter in 2008, she was Ms. Everything.

In the CIF semifinals, she hit two home runs and snatched the final out with the bases loaded on a rocket right back at her.

In the finals, she pitched a four-hit shutout and once again held on to the ball off the bat of the last batter.

She hit .480 with 12 home runs on the season, one more than she allowed to opponents combined in 35 starts in the pitching circle.

"How often do you get to coach a girl like this? Probably once in a lifetime if ever," Valencia coach Donna Lee said after that game.

Though third base is where you'll find Spigner next year at Tennessee, pitching was a different form of expression. Soft-spoken and laid back off the field, pitching put her in command.

"I like being in control of the things that are controllable," she said. "I like having an outlet."

Perhaps more jaw-dropping is the fact that Spigner hadn't pitched competitively until her senior season. In the fall, she took what she called a "crash course" on pitching.

Every Thursday, she drove to Anaheim and took lessons from renowned pitching coach Richard MacArthur on a field across from Angels Stadium.

The same coach who worked with Spigner's predecessor Jordan Taylor, was now in charge of a converted third baseman. Having already accepted a scholarship to be a Volunteer, Spigner didn't blink at the thought of switching positions.

It was just something that had to be done.

"I knew when Jordan graduated I was going to be the only pitcher and I had to pitch, and I took that responsibility upon myself," she said.

The results are in the books. Twelve shutouts, 29 wins, and 222 strikeouts.

Plus another championship ring to add to her collection.

She wears her 2007 ring proudly on her right hand. It's not so much to show off, as to remember fondly. People ask and she tells them the stories.

The enormity of winning back-to-back titles hasn't set in yet. When she gets her 2008 ring, most likely sometime in August, she says it will. But she doesn't know where she'll wear the new ring.

Maybe on her left hand? Maybe she'll switch off?

The awards are important to Spigner. It's a validation of her hard work. But she doesn't get caught up in it. That cool demeanor which resembles more of the South in style, like the place she'll attend college rather than the hustle and bustle of Southern California, won't let her.

"I don't really keep track," she said. "It's important, it's a huge honor to get these awards, and I'm really grateful. I don't like bragging about it."

The awards can do the bragging for her. In addition to the SCV Player of the Year, the Foothill League Co- MVP, and numerous other awards, she was named the Gatorade California Player of the Year, a year after Taylor received the same honor.

Spigner said she learned from Taylor about having composure with the ball in your hand. Next year, Spigner will follow another superstar, SEC player of the year Tonya Callahan, who was Tennessee's third baseman.

She's already had experience following a star and it didn't work out too badly the last time around. Plus, Spigner, who's very close to her parents - her mom Dyan played softball growing up-liked the family atmosphere in Knoxville. The Volunteers have a husband and wife team as co-head coaches.

And the region reminded Spigner of her trip to camp in North Carolina, when she hiked the Appalachian Mountains and canoed the French Broad River.

That river turns into the Tennessee River, and when Spigner visited the campus, she was reminded of that camping trip. Just like her senior season, "everything just fell into place," she said.
"It felt like home."

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