Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) completed its season on June 3 and has been watching the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Softball Rankings for three weeks.
The Dons need not watch any longer, as they have been named MaxPreps mythical national softball champions. They ran the table on the 2014 season, winning all 27 of their games and capturing the California Interscholastic Federation's North Coast Section Division I Championship (California does not hold a state championship tournament for softball).
Amador Valley edged No. 2 Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.) in the final set of rankings.
The Dons, coached by Teresa Borchard, also won the prestigious Michelle Carew Classic in Orange County by winning all five of its games.
Coming off back-to-back impressive seasons, Borchard said the Dons were confident from day one, and the team added confidence as the season progressed.
"We had some expectations coming in, but going down (to Orange County) and winning the Carew Classic was a big boost in their confidence and belief in what we were doing," said Borchard.
The Dons were 22-3 in 2013 and 26-1 in 2012, but wanted more in 2014.
During their unbeaten season, the Dons won four games by a score of 1-0, and six by a one-run margin. They recorded 15 shutouts.
"I think a key game this season was the very last game of the Carew Classic against Los Alamitos," said Borchard of the 1-0 victory. "They kept putting the ball in a play. It was their home field, in front of their fans and we had to make the plays."
Though they hit just .294 and had only three home runs as a team, the Dons had defense, leadership and Johanna Grauer
in the circle. Grauer, who will next play at UCLA, allowed just 60 base hits in holding opponents to an .097 batting average. In compiling a 0.51 ERA, she struck out 290 in 191 innings and is a finalist for MaxPreps National Player of the Year.
Borchard said there were three keys to the team's success: chemistry, hard work and mental toughness.
"Everyone held everyone accountable with our expectations and consistent with discipline and hard work," said Borchard. "No one got special treatment and everyone learned to trust and rely on one another."
With so many one-run games and a competitive schedule, mental toughness won out.
"It (mental toughness) enabled us to stay focus," said the second-year head coach. "Being able to be present when it's time to be present is extremely critical to success. When it was time to refocus, they were able to do that. They did not get distracted by the uncontrollable.
"They were placed in some very tough situations and the kids stayed very calm. I never saw them get rattled. It was amazing to watch how they picked up one another."
Borchard said she runs the program like a college team, and noted that she didn't have to "reinvent the wheel," adding Amador has a strong tradition of success and expectations.
Grauer is part of that success, as are seniors Nicole Yozzo
(who will attend Lehigh), Victoria Molina
(Stanford), Ashley Lotoszynski
(UC Davis) and Malory Masajlo
"What it basically boils down to is not living in the past or the future. That can be hard to do when you have had a bad at-bat, made a mistake or received a bad grade," said Borchard.
The Dons moved into the No. 1 spot on May 20 — just five days after Pacifica (Garden Grove, Calif.) defeated then-No. 1-ranked Mission Viejo (Calif.), 2-1. It was Mission Viejo's only loss of the season.
Alexander Central, which has won 67 straight games and the last two North Carolina 4A titles, concluded its season on June 10 and finishes the season at No. 2 nationally.
Central's season is arguably the most impressive in North Carolina history. Led by the Sherrill sisters (junior Vada Sherrill
and senior Bailey Sherrill
), it outscored its opponents 426-41. The runs scored is a state record. Vada recorded a "60-60" season, scoring 60 runs and collecting 60 base hits. Bailey batted .557 and was the state tournament MVP.
California teams Mission Viejo, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) and Pacifica round out the top five, while Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.), South Salem (Ore.), Bishop Carroll (Wichita, Kan.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Indian Hills (Oakland, N.J.) complete the Top 10.
Unbeaten (24-0) Southington (Connecticut) just missed the Top 25, finishing No. 26 after capturing its 16th state title in the last 20 years.
MaxPreps Final Xcellent 50 National Softball Rankings*State Champion (Section Champion in California)*1. (No. 1 last week) Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.), 27-0
The Dons captured the CIF North Coast Section D-I title.*2. (2) Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.), 35-0
Central won its second straight State 4A title and has won 67 in a row.
*3. (3) Mission Viejo (Calif.), 26-1
The Diablos won the CIF Southern Section D-II title. Its only loss was to D-I CIF-SS winner Pacifica (2-1).*4. (4) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 30-1
Mitty captured the CIF Central Coast Section D-II championship.*5. (5) Pacifica (Garden Grove, Calif.), 29-4-1
Pacifica captured the Southern Section D-I title.*6. (6) Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.), 22-0
Sherwood, which has won 62 straight games, has won last three 4A state titles.*7. (7) South Salem (Ore.), 30-1
Captured Oregon's 6A title.*8. (8) Bishop Carroll (Wichita, Kan.), 25-0
The Golden Eagles won their fourth straight 5A state title.*9. (9) St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 30-2
The Raiders won Florida's 7A state title for the second straight year.
*10. (10) Indian Hills (Oakland, N.J.), 34-0
In winning the state D3 title, the team set record with 34 wins in a single season.*11. (11) Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.), 63-4-1
Won 6A state title.*12. (12) Vacaville (Calif.), 29-1-1
The Bulldogs won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Large School Section title.*13. (13) Eastern Tech (Baltimore), 24-0
Tech captured the Maryland 2A state championship.*14. (14) Hoover (North Canton, Ohio), 29-3
Hoover won a fourth straight D1 state title.
*15. (15) Curtis (River Ridge, La.), 30-2
Won state 3A title.*16. (16) Bay City Western (Auburn, Mich.), 41-3
Won Michigan's D1 title. *17. (17) La Grange (Texas), 40-2
LaGrange won the Texas 3A title.*18. (18) Kamiakin (Kennewick, Wash.), 24-2
Kamiakin won its third straight 3A Washington title.
*19. (19) Kasson-Mantorville (Kasson, Minn.), 28-0
The Komets captured the state's 2A title.*20. (20) Deer Park (Texas), 39-6
Deer Park won the Texas 5A title.*21. (21) Bloomingdale (Valrico, Fla.), 27-2
Won the state 8A title. Last lost on April 4.*22. (22) Rio Rancho (N.M.) (28-4)
Rio won 25 of its last 26 games and captured the 5A state title. *23. (23) West Florida (Pensacola, Fla.), 28-1
The Jaguars won the state 4A title.
24. (24) The Woodlands (Texas), 39-4
The Highlanders dropped the 5A state title game to No. 21 Deer Park.*25. (25) Aledo (Texas), 33-4
Aledo won Texas 4A title.The Next 25*26. Southington (Conn.), 24-0
Southington won its 16th state title in 20 years.
*27. Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.). 30-6
Won Arizona's Large School title, it's fifth straight title and sixth in eight seasons.*28. Puyallup (Wash.), 26-2
Won state 4A title.29. Chino (Calif.) 28-5-1
CIF Southern Section Division I runner-up to No. 5 Pacifica (Garden Grove).
30. Lebanon (Ohio) 32-1
Lost to No. 14 Hoover 5-3 in state Division I semifinals.*31. Neshoba Central (Philadelphia) 32-2
Won a second straight 5A state title.*32. North Little Rock (Ark.)
Won its second straight Arkansas 7A title.33. Barbers Hill (Mt. Belvieu, Texas) 33-1
Lost to Ennis in 4A state semifinals.34. Bloom-Carroll (Carroll, Ohio) 28-4
State D3 runnerup.*35. Alhambra (Martinez, Calif.), 25-2
Won CIF North Coast D-II title.
36. North Davidson (Lexington, N.C.) 30-2
4A state semi-finalist, losing to No. 2 Alexander Central.37. Portage Central (Mich.) 43-4
State D1 runnerup.*38. Washburn Rural (Topeka, Kan.) 23-2
State large school champion.39. Olathe East (Kan.) 22-1
State large school runner-up, losing to No. 38 Washburn Rural.40. Gibbs (Corryton, Tenn.) 50-6
State D1 runner-up.41. North Medford (Ore.) 29-3
State 6A runner-up, losing to No. 7 South Salem.42. Halls (Knoxville, Tenn.) 38-4
Lost to Powell, 14-13, in final game of season.43. Columbia (Lake City, Fla.) 28-2
Lost to Creekside in 3A regional finals.44. Crown Point (Ind.) 29-1
Lost to Huntington North in Semi-State semifinals.45. Baker (Mobile, Ala.) 60-6
Lost to Hillcrest in 6A quarterfinals.*46. High Point (Sussex, N.J.), 20-1
Won state Group 2 title. Allowed 10 runs on season.*47. Twin Falls (Idaho), 30-2
State 4A champion.48. Manteno (Ill.) 39-2
State 3A runner-up.49. Harmony (Fla.) 27-3
State 7A runner-up, losing to No. 9 St. Thomas Aquinas.*50. Brookville (Lynchburg, Va.), 29-0
The Bees captured the state 3A title.