IT'S PLAYOFF TIME : AHEAD OF SCHEDULE : For Tiffany Boyd and Rebuilding Warriors, Their Time Is Now

Times Staff Writer

Like its high school, where new classrooms are going up and whole areas are fenced off, Woodbridge's softball team was to undergo major reconstruction this season.

The Warriors were supposed to be surrounded by catwalks and "coaches working" signs as they suffered through the rigors of building for the future and the better.

After all, Woodbridge had lost pitchers Patti Russell and Sandra Schoonover to Oregon State, and Jenny Allard went to Michigan. Woodbridge also had been moved into the new Pacific Coast League and dropped from the 3-A to 2-A division.

"Everything happened at once," said junior pitcher Tiffany Boyd, a three-year veteran. "Being runner-up in 3-A and having to move down, it shook us up a lot."

But the scaffolding came down far ahead of schedule. Boyd, whose position and role had once been overshadowed by seniors, became the team leader. And a team that fielded six sophomores managed to pull itself together to win 9 of 10 league games and share the league championship with Laguna Hills.

"Last year we had four or five people who played for all nine," Boyd said. "This year we need all nine. Last year we played with talent; this year we have to play with hard work."

Boyd, 15, had always been a pitcher in summer softball, but she didn't get a chance to pitch as a freshman or sophomore. Last season she played center field, hit .378, scored 28 runs (third in the nation) and made All-Southern Section playing out of her natural position.

This season, she returned to pitching and has thrown seven no-hitters, including perfect games against Costa Mesa and Trabuco Hills. Her earned-run average is 0.11. She is 11-6 for the Warriors (14-6), who play host to St. Anthony Friday in the Southern Section 2-A playoffs. Each of Boyd's losses has been by one run.

This year's team began with only two seniors and no set defense to back up Boyd.

"When we started playing 4-A teams, they started hitting and everyone knew my pitching wasn't going to do everything," Boyd said. "They had to get together and play defense."

So to try to improve team rapport, Boyd had a slumber party at her house early in the season. She also got the team together for lunches. "I took charge of the infield and just started over. I just wanted to bring everyone together."

But that took time. Even though she would average more than 14 strikeouts per game, she worried what might happen when a pitch would be hit.

After La Mirada scored on a passed ball to defeat Woodbridge, 1-0, in the Cypress tournament in March, those feelings changed.

"After I lost to La Mirada, we sort of had a blowout fight . . . players, coaches, everybody shouting," Boyd said. "Our whole team left in tears. It was the turnaround time of what we needed to do."

Since then, Boyd said the Warriors have become the close team Boyd thought they needed to be.

"There's not a team like us," she said. "We get along so well. Everybody has a whole different attitude."

Now in the leadership role, Boyd's attitude has changed too.

"This year she's definitely the leader," Warrior Coach Sue Hall said. "She's very aggressive. She's always ready to steal any base. She would like to hit every pitch, strike out every batter. After a long game her fingers will be bleeding."

Boyd, who is hitting .449 with 5 home runs and 18 RBIs, would like to see another change for her and her teammates from years past.

"Our (boys') basketball team won the CIF and it was great just being part of the high school," Boyd said. "It would be better to help bring a championship back.

"My first year we lost in the CIF semifinals. My sophomore year we lost in the finals. I figure this has to be my year. It has to be."

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