Week 15: FAB 50 High School Rankings
By Mark Tennis
There’s never much of a coronation for the final No. 1 team in the nation for high school softball since the season in California, Florida and Texas ends earlier than it does in many Midwest and East Coast states and since teams from those states aren’t usually in the No. 1 mix.
For the 2017 season, that was the case after the CIF Southern Section Division I championship on June 3 in Irvine, Calif., where No. 2 Los Alamitos topped No. 1 Norco 3-1 and prevented Norco from finishing 34-0. The Griffins moved up to No. 1 in the nation two days later and stay there in this week’s final FAB 50.
In the final two weekends, however, there were several teams that earned bumps for the final rankings and a few others that just had to be moved in.
The highest-ranked of those teams was Oak Park-River Forest of Oak Park, Ill. The Huskies (37-1) became the first Class 4A team in state history to repeat when they topped Lincoln-Way East (Frankfurt) 1-0 in the Class 4A state final. Auburn recruit Chardonnay Harris, who also won in last year’s state title game, pitched a one-hitter with just one walk and 16 strikeouts. The only run of the game came on a solo homer by Mariah Scott in the top of the seventh inning. In this week’s final rankings, Oak Park-River Forest was elevated from No. 9 to No. 7.
No. 10 Hempfield Area (Greensburg, Pa.) didn’t get a bump, but secured a final top 10 national finish by topping Hazleton 5-3 to finish unbeaten and win the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 6A crown. The Spartans also became the first team in the state’s highest classification to repeat as state champion. They were led against Hazleton by senior shortstop Ali Belgiovane, who went 4-for-4, and senior pitcher Morgan Ryan, who struck out six as the winning pitcher and had two hits and one RBI. Ryan, a Notre Dame recruit, also wrapped her career with a 73-6 record.
In Indiana, Crown Point won the Class 4A state title over defending champion Avon 2-1 and was moved up from No. 27 to No. 24 in this week’s final rankings. Mallory McMahon came through with a two-run double in the bottom of the first to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead and Notre Dame recruit Alexis Holloway made that stand up. Holloway, who gave up a run in the top of the first, had a four-hitter, struck out six and walked one.
The two highest-ranked teams to go in as newcomers for the final rankings are No. 35 Dakota of Macomb, Mich., and No. 36 Hurricane of Hurricane, W. Va.
Dakota won the Michigan Division I state title by edging Grandville 4-3 in eight innings. Kattie Popko scored the winning run on a wild pitch and ended with two hits and three runs scored. Julia Salisbury shined as well by going 3-for-4 with three RBI. The Cougars ended at 36-2 and had to be the highest-ranked team in the state.
Hurricane ended its season earlier and has been a team not ranked previously due to strength of schedule reasons. The team benefitted from what happened in the Kentucky state playoffs since a team the Redskins beat earlier in the season, East Carter, went to the title game.
Congratulations to all 50 teams that are listed in the final national rankings and to the next 38 teams that didn’t quite make it. It was another great season of softball everywhere.