and an impressive supporting cast returning, Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) opens the 2013 softball season atop the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Softball Rankings. Each week after this will feature 25 teams, but we open with 50.
"It's a dream team," said first-year head coach Teresa Borchard. "This is a great bunch of kids who are also great people. A lot of them are returning from last year, are a year older and know what we are trying to achieve and know the expectations.
"We aren't going to skip a beat, but we're not going overlook anyone," said Borchard.
When Grauer is on the mound, opponents have a tough time crossing home plate, as they scored just a dozen times against the Dons in 27 games in 2012. In winning 26 of her 27 starts last season, Grauer averaged two strikeouts per inning and posted an 0.33 earned run average. Opposing batters hit just .050 against her.
The lone loss came in the North Coast Section championship game, 1-0, when Grauer struck out 17 and allowed three hits against Logan (Union City, Calif.). The run was unearned.
"Johanna's strength is that she can move the ball on many different planes," said Borchard. "She's got speed (65 mph plus), has command of her pitches and has confidence."
Supporting Grauer will be juniors Victoria Molina
(.435), Nicole Yozzo
(.463), and Krista Williams
(.341). Grauer, who will play collegiately at Arizona, batted .358. Others who are expected to contribute impressively are returnees Malory Masajlo
, Ashley Lotosynzki
and Jazzy Perez
"The great thing about this team is versatility," said Borchard, who assisted former UCLA standout Julie Marshall the last five seasons. "We have four or five lefties who slap and two of those have significant power. Our defense is phenomenal, out catching is excellent and our pitching is the best."
Borchard added that the Dons, who open their season at the end of February, have great chemistry.
"They have such respect for one another," she said. "I've never seen a team with better chemistry."
She believes it's that chemistry that will keep her team from getting caught up in being ranked No. 1.
"We just want to make sure we get to the end of the season by taking it one game at a time," she said.
Amador Valley finished 24th in the final 2012 Xcellent 25, but was No. 3 in in the Freeman Computer Rankings.
Led by pitcher Jess Cummings
, Northern (Owings, Md.) starts the season ranked No. 2. Northern is in a good position to extend its winning streak of 46 games and win a sixth-straight Maryland 3A state championship. Northern finished No. 4 in the final Xcellent 25 last year.
Cummings led the Patriots (25-0) to their fifth-straight Class 3A state championship when she posted a 20-0 record with a 0.38 ERA and 260 strikeouts in 128 innings pitched. She threw six no-hitters, including three perfect games, and held opponents to a .090 batting average. In 35 postseason innings, she allowed two earned runs on 13 hits with 57 strikeouts, including a four-hitter with 15 strikeouts in the state final.
Since losing 2-1 to Northern last April 14, No. 3 Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) has not been scored upon and has outscored its opponents 145-0. All total, the Knights outscored their opponents 293-8 in winning the Virginia state title.
Led by Tori Finucane
, who posted a 27-1 record with a 0.09 ERA and 332 strikeouts in 161 innings pitched, the Knights went 27-1 on the season. Finucane allowed 41 hits and walked 22 batters, holding opponents to a .077 batting average. At the plate she hit .363 with two home runs and 25 RBIs.
She is one of two All-Americans on the team, the other being catcher Jillian Ferraro
(signed with North Carolina).
Northern will host Bishop O'Connell on April 27.
No. 4 Chino Hills (Calif.) has won 26 straight since losing 3-1 to Norco (31-2) last March 10. The Huskies return 10 players to a team that batted .368 and scored 236 runs. They are led by Arizona commit Patricia Parks
, who allowed just 26 hits in 65 innings and batted .479.
No. 5 James Logan (Union City, Calif.) opens the season with 21 straight wins, having last lost to No. 1 Amador Valley, but avenging that loss on the season's final day. Logan was ranked No. 23 in 2012.MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Preseason National Softball Rankings1. (Finished No. 24) Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.), 26-1
Led by All-American Johanna Grauer (verbal to Arizona), the Dons won their first 26 games before losing in the North Coast Section title game, 1-0. As impressive as Grauer is on the mound, the Dons' hitting will get its share of headlines with seven returnees owning .300-plus averages.
2. (4) Northern (Owings, Md.), 25-0
The 3A state champions are led by All-American pitcher Jess Cummings
. Northern hasn't lost since 2010 and has outscored its opponents 479-26 in that span. Northern lost only two seniors and was the only team last season to beat No. 3 Bishop O'Connell and Missouri signee Tori Finucane.3. (15) Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), 27-1
The Knights' only loss in 2012 was to No. 2 Northern, 2-1. In winning the state's D-1 title, the Knights outscored their opponents 293-8 and have recorded 16 straight shutouts since losing to Northern. In addition to All-American Tori Finucane, who averaged more than two strikeouts per inning, the Knights feature All-American catcher Jillian Ferraro
(.540, 51 RBIs), and four other .300-plus hitters including Hayley Metcalf
(.484) and Amanda Ehlers
(.438).4. (34) Chino Hills (Calif.), 32-3
California's Southern Section D-III champions enter the season with a 26-game winning streak and will feature junior pitcher Patricia Parks (10-1, .479 BA), Shianne Brannan
(.352) and Tannon Snow
(.436, 8 HR, 34 RBIs).5. (23) Logan (Union City, Calif.), 24-1
The California North Coast Section Division I champions won it all over No. 1 Amador Valley last season. Leading the Colts is senior pitcher Raeann Garza (21-1, 0.94 ERA and .358 batting average). Other key returnees are catcher Caley Banansea (.330) and Kimberley Goulart (.305), who was 3-0 with three shutouts. 6. (8) Deer Park (Texas), 31-8
The Texas 5A state champions return junior 13-game winner Caitlin Plocheck
(.425) and seven returnees who batted better than .300 a year ago. All-American Haley Harrison
(.462), junior Alana Tinker
(.349, 20 RBIs) and sophomore Rhonda Jarvis
(16 extra base hits) will lead the way.7. (NR) El Diamante (Visalia, Calif.), 30-3
El Diamante returns 30-game winner Sierra Hyland
(30-2, 312 Ks, 200 IP, 1.02 ERA), who also batted .468, with 8 homers and 36 RBIs. Other key returnees are Baylie Jensen
(.431), Stevi Johnson
(.344), Rylee Pierce
(.356) and Katy McJunkin
(.465, 33 RBIs).8. (7) Woodinville (Wash.), 26-0
With Washington's Gatorade POY Madi Schreyer (Stanford) in the circle, Woodinville won Washington's 4A state championship. Schreyer was 21-0 with an 0.28 ERA, 189 strikeouts, 123 innings pitched and 33 walks. She is a member of the Canadian Junior National Team. The Falcons have lost just twice in the last three seasons. Also back are catcher Alex Boyd (Oregon State signee), shortstop Tori Lettus and leading hitter Sarah Taketa.9. (NR) Centennial (Las Vegas), 33-8
The defending 4A champs return every starter from a team that batted .426 and hit 46 homers. Returners include senior pitching standouts Kate Rauskin (15-2) and Taylor Huntly (19-6). Also back are senior Bailie Nelson (.423, 31 RBIs), junior shortstop Heather Bowen (.480, 60 runs, 54 RBIs), junior Lauren Stroman (.518, 41 RBIs) and junior Savannah Horvath (.508, 39 RBIs). Their season opens March 8.10. (6) Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.), 35-3
The Arizona Division I champions return .440 hitter Brenna Macha, who was 14-2 on the mound, and .410 hitter Ashley Hill, who homered nine times. Since a one-run loss last March, Red Mountain has won 19 straight.11. (11) Klein Collins (Spring, Texas), 31-5
In addition to returning a top pitcher (Tayler Atkinson
), Klein returns December Rivers
(.426), Rylie Spell (.388, 35 RBIs), Demi Janak
(.311, 42 runs) and Adriana Farris
(.330, 30 RBIs).12. (35) Pacifica (Garden Grove, Calif.), 28-3
A pair of young pitchers, Kaylee Carlson
(15-3) and sophomore Kaley Winegarner
(who combined for 19 shutouts and 228 Ks in 178 innings with a 13-0 record) will lead the Mariners. Other key returnees include All-American Nicole DeWitt
(.488, 41 runs), Rebecca Lee
(.450) and Faith Canfield
(.309).13. (NR) Chiles (Tallahassee, Fla.), 27-3
Any team that has All-American
(19-1 and 7A Player of Year) in the circle is a contender. Look for shortstop Katie Baker
(.400) to have a big year, too.14. (17) O'Connor (Helotes, Texas), 31-3
All-American Kenedy Urbany (30 wins and 60 RBIs) returns with a good supporting cast. Urbany had an 0.90 ERA and struck out 259 in 210 innings.15. (20) Chamberlain (Tampa, Fla.), 27-4
The Florida 7A state champions lost only two starters and return pitcher Rachel Dwyer
(21-2) and hitters Lindsey Hagberg
(.474) and Zalonzia Canady
(.304).16. (NR) Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.), 32-0
With Steph Thomas
on the mound (27-0), Immaculate Heart was unbeaten in winning the state title. Thomas, the state's Gatorade State Player of the Year winner, is back before moving on to Louisiana-Lafayette. A quartet of impressive hitters are also back - Rachel Pollard
(.410), Ally Vergona
(.387), Daniella Ibarra
(.430) and Cassidy Trause
(.330). 17. (NR) Lake City (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho), 22-2
Two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year and Missouri-bound Casey Stangel is back for her senior year. When the lefty is on, watch out. In 2012, she was 22-2 with an 0.37 ERA, 218 strikeouts in 132.1 innings pitched, 11 home runs and 59 RBIs. Power-hitting catcher Lindsey Willmon (Hawaii signee) transferred from Elk Grove (Calif.) to make the T-Wolves even stronger. Add returnees Vanessa Shipley, JaeCie Wilson, Jordyn McCracken and Hailey Jackson and Lake City could be looking at an unbeaten season like 2011.18. (37) North Medford (Ore.), 27-1
Stanford signee Maryssa Becker makes the Black Tornado a heavy favorite to repeat as Oregon 6A champs. In addition to being 26-0 on the mound, Becker also drove in 47 runs. Loading up the arsenal are returning all-state players Joci Ellis, Katie Williamson and Michelle Draper.19. (NR) Hudson (Lufkin, Texas), 36-5
The Hornets were 36-5 and won the 3A title. All-America senior Kelsee Selman
(36-3, 0.62 ERA, 246.2 innings pitched, 446 strikeouts) leads the way and will get plenty of support from Madison Selman
(.404, 41 RBIs, 36-3 record).20. (NR) Curtis (River Ridge, La.), 31-0
Behind Katie Brignac (25-0, 0.37 ERA), the Patriots swept 2012, winning the state's 2A title. The supporting class includes Rachel Brockhaus (.430) and Brooke Lee (.444).21. (NR) Orange Lutheran (Calif.), 27-5
Led by Jade Vecvanags
(16 wins, 0.76 ERA, 11 HRs) and Olivia Sandusky
(.463), Orange Lutheran was 27-5 in 2012.22. (21) Durant (Plant City, Fla.), 24-4Paige Davis
(22-4) and Alyssa Colding
(.325) return to lead Florida's 2012 8A state champions. Look for Shannon Bell
and Brooke Freeman
to contribute often.23. (NR) Olathe East (Kan.), 24-1
Junior Gatorade winner Allison Stewart (13-0, 0.20 ERA and 52 RBIs) is back. Also returning are all-state players Jenny Brooks, Elizabeth Leonard and Gwen Hartman.
24. (14) The Woodlands (Texas), 30-5
Gone is record-setting Paige McDuffie (UCLA), but Woodlands is loaded with youthful pitchers Abby Langkamp
(11-0, .400 BA) and Caitlin Bartsch
(19-4) and hitters Alyssa Jorgensen
(.365), and Aubrey Leach
(.375).25. (39) Sam Houston (Lake Charles, La.), 23-4
Louisiana's 5A state champions return strong with Bailee Corbello, who was the Gatorade State Player of the Year and Class 5A Player of the Year. She had a record of 23-4, 337 strikeouts, 179 IP, 0.86 ERA, .496 batting average, 39 RBIs and three home runs. She will attend Louisiana-Lafayette.26. (29) Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.), 64-7
Preseason All-American senior Janna Korak
(99 RBIs) is one of three returning all-state players. The other returnees are juniors Jordan Bullock
and Bevia Robinson
. Another key performer is senior Meg Willis
.27. (NR) Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 26-5
Pitcher Samantha Cordova
(25-5) and the Wester sisters (Karley
.406 and Ali
.421) want more than 2012's 26-5 mark.28. (2) Norco (Calif.), 31-2
Last year's No. 2 team lost only two starters, but one was pitcher Emily Lockman, now at Nebraska.29. (5) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 28-2
Mitty won the Central Coast Section title and returns Jazmyn Jackson
(.551), Danielle Bowers
(.366), Kiersten Nordin
(.359), Ashley Chestnut
(.409) and Catherine Callaway
(.343).30. (28) Bryant (Ark.), 34-0
The Arkansas 7A state champions will go for a fourth-straight title. Key returnees include Mckenzie Rice and Carly Yazza.31. (1) Keystone (La Grange, Ohio), 32-0
Last year's mythical national champions lost eight players, including MaxPreps 2012 Player of Year and All-American Erin Pond. That's a lot to overcome.32. (3) Porter Ridge (Indian Trail, N.C.), 33-1
Porter Ridge is the defending North Carolina Class 4A state champion.33. (27) North Davidson (Lexington, N.C.), 28-5
Back are Mackenzie Hauser (11-4, 0.83 ERA), Eliza Davis (12-0, 1.11 ERA), Paige Wall (.426 average) and Haley Pace (.426 average).34. (NR) Sunrise Mountain (Peoria, Ariz.), 33-2
Returning are all-state pitcher Taylor Nowlin was 21-1 and allowed only one earned run in 130 innings. Also back are Mikayla Erickson, Morgan Leonard and Danae King.
35. (NR) Dothan (Ala.), 45-14
Any team that has Kasey Cooper
(28 wins, 19 HRs, 100 base hits) has to be ranked.36. (NR) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.), 23-5-1
Back is pitcher Selina Ta'amilo
(20-3, 189 Ks, 157 IP) and four .300-plus hitters, including sophomore Sydney Romero (.473).37. (10) Soddy Daisy (Tenn.), 46-5
The defending 3A state champions lost their top pitcher but return Brit Lanham (.505), Haley Reynolds (31 RBIs, .374) and senior Olivia Williams (.356).38. (12) Plano East (Texas), 34-4
PEHS lost to Klein Collins 6-3 in the Texas 5A semifinals last year, but has pitchers Jacque Anthony and Ashleigh Hinshaw who also hit. Add K.K. Stevens and Sarah Morales and East Plano will be a Texas power.39. (NR) North Marion (Citra, Fla.), 25-3Holly McKinnon
(23-2, 299 Ks in 163 IP, .474 BA) was the state's 5A Player/Pitcher of Year, and she returns, as does sophomore Caeley Nix
(.375, 35 R).40. (49) Pearland (Texas), 33-8
A pair of HFCA All-Americans return: Sophomore Samantha Show
(9-1, 89K, 60 IP, .422 BA) and junior SS Kristen Cuyos
(.500).41. (40) Hughson (Calif.), 28-1
Pretty much everyone is back for a team that hit .423 (including eight returnees with .300-plus averages) and won a Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title. Key returnees are Katelyn Harden (.518, 25-1, 0.32 ERA, 285 Ks, 155 IP, 15 shutouts), Kristin Meyer (.517) and sophomore Mackenzie Babitt (.558) Section 5 title.42. El Capitan (Lakeside, Calif.), 21-9
Pitcher Delaney Gourley (Florida signee) makes the Vaqueros a contender every time she is on the mound.43. (NR) C.B. Aycock (Pikeville, N.C.), 31-3
Aycock lost an all-star pitcher, but has junior Cierra Harris back, who was 9-0. Also back is All-American Meredith Burroughs (.545, 48 RBIs).44. (NR) Valley View (Archbald, Pa.), 22-1
Valley View lost the state title game 2-1 after winning its first 22 games. It has won 41 of its last 43 games. 45. (46) Vestavia Hills (Ala.), 53-10
Caroline Hardy (.369, 12 HRs), Abbie Miranda (.379, 54 runs, 35 RBIs), Rebecca Heim (25 wins, 1.06 ERA) all return. This team could be a fast climber in the polls.
46. (NR) Danbury (Texas), 28-8
Senior pitcher Kaylee Garner (294K, 0.09 ERA, 21 wins) allowed only two earned runs in 2012.47. (19) Niceville (Fla.), 29-3
The 6A state runners-up haven't lost a regular season game since April 7 (1-0 to No. 13 Chiles).48. (NR) Clarkdale (Meridian, Miss.), 31-3
Returning hitters Lauren Thrash (.448), Shana Elmore (.356) and Kristen Mitchell (.327) make Clarkdale a threat.49. (NR) Andale/Garden Plain (Andale, Kan.), 26-1
The state champions ended with 23-game winning streak.50. (NR) Lone Oak (Paducah, Ky.), 40-6Jenny Chapman
, now a freshman, was 25-2 on the varsity team as an eighth-grader last season. Giving her run support are Kelsee Henson
(.455), Sarah Kreuter
(.413, 45 RBIs), Jacqueline Roof
(.456, 46 RBIs) and Payton Dillon (.396, 48 RBIs).