It was about getting breaks and making breaks. It was about seizing
the moment, about fast starts and strong finishes. It was about
winning the sport's most important championship this country has to offer.
When it came time for the California Commotion to seize its third straight
Amateur Softball Association Women's Major Fastpitch National
Championship, there was not a moment's hesitation. Scoring twice in
the first inning - and making a quick pitching change to plug an early
leak - the Commotion held off the Redding (Calif.) Rebels, 2-1, Saturday
night at Borg-Warner field.
Dot Richardson singled off Michele Smith on the
game's very first pitch, setting the tone.
She was forced at second by Sara Pickering's
fielder's choice. Pickering moved to
second on a stolen base. On Lisa
Fernandez's high bouncer up the middle, the ball
glanced off the knee of Rebels' second baseman
Julie Smith and bounced all the way into left
field for a single, allowing Pickering to score
for a 1-0 lead. Sheila Douty reached on a
fielder's choice and took second when Smith hit
Jennifer Brundage in the helmet with a pitch.
Then Nicole Victoria singled to right, sending
Douty racing toward the plate. The throw
from Rebels' right fielder was perfect and had
Douty beat. But it skimmed off the glove
of catcher Michele Gromacki, increasing the
Commotion lead to 2-0.
Even so, the Rebels nearly pulled even in the
bottom of the first inning against Commotion
starter Lori Harrigan. That's all it took
for Commotion Manager Kirk Walker to make a
pitching change, and he called on Fernandez.
She responded by striking out Smith and getting
Teri Klement on a groundout to end the threat.
Fernandez, named both the tournament's most
valuable player and the top pitcher, fanned
eight and allowed just two hits.
Championship night capped an amazing week for
two amazing teams - teams that had not played a
single game together all summer because so many
of their players were committed to national and
international play. In fact, in the
championship game, seven 1996 Olympic gold
medalists and three alternates were on the two
"Commotion Pulls a Three-Peat" by Mark
Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review (August 16,