Not even a painful blister on her pitching hand could keep Lori Spingola from leading the East Cobb Bullets to the Amateur Softball Association 18-and-under Gold Fast-Pitch National Championship.
The six-foot right-hander shook off the pain in the latter stages of the semifinals, then fired her seventh complete game in four days to defeat talent-laden Team North Florida, 6-3, during the nine-inning finale on Saturday in Powder Springs, Ga.
“I had to pretty much pitch through the pain,” Spingola said. “It was really just adrenaline that helped me. I just had to think about the next pitch.”
North Florida, loaded with Southeastern Conference recruits, had beaten the Bullets earlier this summer in a Colorado tournament.
The Bullets are the first Georgia team in any age group to win an ASA national championship. The field included 64 blue-chip teams from throughout the USA.
“She was on a mission. Her composure has been like that since she was 15 years old,” Bullets coach Keith Pauly said. “She has great mound presence.
“It’s nice to win in your own backyard. There were about 600 people there and the majority were our fans.”
Spingola, who was fresh off two straight Georgia Class AAAA state titles at Marist (Atlanta, Ga.), said, “The whole summer our main focus was to win the nationals. We worked hard all summer and we did it.”
She said she probably never before had pitched seven games in four days (winning them all).
While compiling a 7-0 tourney record, Spingola pitched 49 innings, allowing just 16 hits, seven runs, three walks and striking out 51.
Spingola throws a fastball which consistently hits 63-64 mph. She likes to get ahead of hitters with her screwball and curve, then use a riseball and changeup as her strikeout pitches.
Her high school credentials alone earned her a scholarship to the University of North Carolina. She compiled a 26-1 record as a senior, striking out 415 with a 0.04 ERA in 189 innings. As a junior she had a 25-4 record with 384 strikeouts and a 0.33 ERA in 187 innings.
Spingola shared top billing in the title game with Buford (Buford, Ga.) rising junior Lexi Overstreet, who slammed the winning three-run homer 250 feet over the right-center field fence in the top of the ninth inning.
The 5-foot-9 Overstreet was 2-for-4 in the finale and also drove in the winning run as a pinch hitter in game No. 4 against the Miami Stingrays.
Junior PGA champs crowned
Denny McCarthy and Cassy Isagawa won the boys and girls divisions, respectively, during the 35th Junior PGA Championships in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Isagawa, 16, of Wailuku, Hawaii, had to go three extra holes before sinking a five-foot putt to edge Ginger Howard of Bradenton, Fla. Both had finished with 3-under-par scores of 213 during the regulation 54-hole tournament.
McCarthy, a rising senior at Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.) who has committed to Virginia, overcame a three-shot deficit on the final day to finish with a score of 9-under-207. That was three strokes ahead of Anthony Paolucci, the 2008 champion, of Del Mar, Calif.
* Hannah O’Sullivan of Cupertino, Calif., won the girls division of the Stockton Sports Commission Junior Open by one stroke. At age 12, she is the fourth-youngest ever to win an AJGA event.
Marc Loving picks OSU
St. John's Jesuit (Toledo, Ohio) rising sophomore Marc Loving has committed to Ohio State, according to the Toledo Blade. The 6-foot-7 basketball standout averaged 12.8 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman.
* Rod Days Jr., of Sagemont (Weston, Fla.) has made a commitment to Central Florida, according to the Miami Herald. The rising 6-6 senior averaged 16 points and eight rebounds last year on the basketball court.
Utah lands 6-4 star
The Review-Journal reports that Virgin Valley (Mesquite, Nev.) center Rachel Morris has committed to the University of Utah for basketball. The 6-4 rising senior averaged 11.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.2 blocks last year. She already has blocked a state-record 474 shots during her three-year career.
* One of Tennessee’s premier rising seniors, Hasina Muhammad, has made a commitment to Auburn, according to the Commercial Appeal. The 6-foot standout averaged 16 points and shot .605 from the field as a junior at Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.).
* Ten-year-old Armond “Mondo” Duplantis of Lafayette, La., broke his own age-group world record when he cleared 12 feet, 8 inches during the 14th North American Pole Vaulting Association Championships in the street of Old Town, Clovis, Calif.
* Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) sophomore phenom Missy Franklin did not win any events, but she still scored 80 points to lead all other females during the USA Swimming National Championships in Irvine, Calif.
* Tampa Catholic (Tampa, Fla.) rising senior fullback Hunter Joyer (5-11, 248) was named Offensive MVP during the first annual IMG Madden Football Academy Camp in Bradenton, Fla. Southeast (Bradenton, Fla.) rising junior cornerback Brian Poole (5-9, 175) was named Defensive MVP. The field consisted of 75 players from 12 states.
* Iowa’s top-rated senior baseball prospect, Jason McMurray, has made a commitment to the University of Notre Dame, according to the Des Moines Register. The 6-1, 170-pound Dowling (West Des Moines, Iowa) shortstop batted .382 with seven home runs and 18 doubles as a junior.