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National

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 rosters.

Excerpt from "Commotion Pulls a Three-Peat"  by Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review (August 16, 1998)

 

Awards & Accomplishments

  • 3-time Olympic Festival Gold Medalist

  • USOC Top 10 Athlete of the Year Award

  • Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award

  • 2-time Women's Sports Foundation Athlete of the Year Nominee

  • ASA Player of the Year

  • 2-time ASA Sports Woman of the Year

  • 8-time ASA All-American

  • 6-time ASA Women's Major Fast Pitch National Champion (Raybestos Brakettes  and California Commotion)

  • 5-time ASA Women's Major Fast Pitch National Championship MVP

  • 5-time ASA Women's Major Fast Pitch National Championship Bertha Tickey Award