At times, Michele Granger's life as one of the premier softball pitchers in the country, high school or otherwise, just doesn't seem fair.
It certainly isn't fair to the opposition, whether that be in the Southern Section, club teams around the country or national teams around the world. Few have been able to handle the Lone Granger.
And, at times, things don't seem fair for the star herself because through all the strikeouts and no-hitters and, most recently, perfect games, all too often there aren't many runs being scored by her Placentia Valencia teammates for support.
Last season, for example, she threw a no-hitter and lost. Later, she had 22 strikeouts in a game and lost that one, too. A month after that, she left the mound with 21 strikeouts . . . and a 1-0 defeat.
"Every team she's played on, if she didn't get everybody out, she'd lose," her father, Michael Granger, said at the time.
These days, Michele Granger, though just a junior, has been winning. And getting everybody out. Everybody.
She has pitched eight no-hitters this season and, up to Monday night, had gone 44 innings without giving up a hit or a run--and, yes, has won four of her last five games. April 7--In a 14-inning, 5-0 victory over Anaheim Savanna, Granger struck out 31 and didn't allow a hit. Valencia got 10 hits, but couldn't score until the 14th inning, when Savanna committed three errors. That gave Granger an 8-4 record despite an earned-run average of 0.20 and an average of more than two strikeouts an inning.
April 9--Another 5-0 victory in Orange League play, this time against Anaheim Western. Granger struck out 18 of 21 batters in the fifth perfect game and 22nd no-hitter of her career, breaking the old Southern Section career mark of 21 by Monica Messmer of West Covina. At one point, she had 13 consecutive strikeouts. April 10--Twenty-four hours after beating Western, Granger defeated Fullerton with another perfect game, 1-0, striking out 18 along the way, including the final 15. Valencia scored the only run in the fifth inning, Amanda Chadwick coming in from third when the Fullerton catcher couldn't handle a third strike.
April 13--A fourth straight no-hitter, this time an 11-1 win over Glendale in the first round of the Glendora Tournament. She walked the leadoff batter and proceeded to strike out 11 of the next 14 batters before the game was called on the 10-run rule.
In her second game of the day, the second round of the Glendora Tournament, Granger had a perfect game through nine innings--and then lost to Garden Grove, 1-0, in 11 innings with a one-hitter. She struck out 26, but lost when Garden Grove's Elaine Allen was put on second base for the tie-breaker, was sacrificed to third and scored on a throwing error.
The 26 strikeouts in Monday's second game gave Granger 968 strikeouts in 451 innings, an average of 2.1 an inning, and put her second on the all-time Southern Section list behind Samantha Ford. Now starring for UCLA, Ford had 1,124 strikeouts for Newhall Hart from 1982-85.
Granger also is closing in on the record for no-hitters. The eight in a season put her in fourth place, three behind Diane Lewis of Long Beach Millikan, who had 11 in 1983.
Granger, who already holds the mark for consecutive strikeouts in a game at 21, was named the top softball player in the country for 1986 by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The year before that, her freshman year, she had two no-hitters and a save to help the United States sweep the World Championships in New Zealand. She was the youngest player in the tournament.
How tough can the Southern Section be after taking on--and beating--the world?
Lakewood leads the state 4-A baseball rankings by Cal-Hi Sports, with Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley leading the 2-A and Van Nuys Montclair Prep the 1-A. No. 3 Redondo is the highest-rated team in the 3-A.
Sean Higgins of Fairfax has been named second-team All-American by Basketball Weekly, with LeRon Ellis of Santa Ana Mater Dei on the third team. Brian Williams of Santa Monica St. Monica and junior Chris Mills of Fairfax received special mention.
Jason Matthews of St. Monica got honorable mention, placing him also among the top 50 players in the country.
A crowd of 24,041 packed Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., for the Kentucky state tournament March 27 to establish a national attendance record for prep basketball. The old mark, also set during the Kentucky tournament, was 21,342 in 1982. . . . Officials from the National High School Athletic Coaches Assn. and CBS sports met during the NCAA championships in New Orleans to discuss a possible Final Four for prep basketball. The idea is still in the preliminary stages, considering how some have balked about state tournaments because of the time added to the season and taken away from classes. "It is an interesting concept and we are exploring it," Len DeLuca, CBS sports programming executive, told the Orlando, Fla., Sentinel. "Our sales and marketing guys love it. There are, however, a number of steps that must be solved."
Jeff Engilman has been named football coach at Sylmar. . . . Softball pitcher Debbie Day of Burbank threw consecutive perfect games March 19 and 25 against Canoga Park Chaminade and Calabasas, respectively. . . . Tom Bergeron, baseball coach at Gahr, recorded his 300th victory April 2 with an 8-1 win over Lynwood in a San Gabriel Valley League game. First baseman Matt Gray marked the occasion by sneaking up behind Bergeron and dumping a cooler full of apple cider over him. . . . Tony Cruz, a former head coach at Queens College in New York and last season an assistant at Diamond Bar, has been named football coach at Compton Centennial. . . . Buck Taylor won his 250th game as baseball coach at Downey Warren last month with a nonleague victory over Bell Gardens.
The National Federation Wrestling Rules Committee has increased the number of weight classes from 12 to 13, starting with the 1988-89 season, the first such change since the 1970-71 campaign. The new weight classes, which will be optional for state adoption for 1987-88, are 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189 and 275. Additionally, the rule allowing a two-pound growth allowance on Dec. 25, another pound on Feb. 1 and an additional pound on March 1 has been deleted, also effective 1988-89. . . . Jim Walker, formerly at Santa Fe Springs St. Paul and Pomona, has been named football coach at Temple City. . . . Palos Verdes, Santa Ana, Gardena Serra, Westchester and Irvine Woodbridge are among the 28 teams entered in next December's Las Vegas Holiday basketball tournament.
Joe Radisich has been named football coach at Rancho Palos Verdes Miraleste. He previously spent 10 years at San Pedro Mary Star and one as an assistant at Harbor College. . . . Kurt Kersten has resigned as basketball coach at Anaheim Esperanza and been replaced by his assistant, Chris Lee. . . . Paul Cummins has resigned as football coach at Duarte. . . . William Reed from Philadelphia, who holds national age-group records in the 400 meters for 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds, has been added to the field for the open 400 at the Pepsi Invitational May 16 at UCLA. Now a 17-year-old junior, he ran a 44.52 anchor last July at the World Junior Championships in Athens as the United States set a world junior record in the 1,600 relay of 3:01.90.