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After She Got Her Rest, the Rest Was Up to Rice

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It wasn’t summer, but for Rae Rice, a softball pitcher at Fountain Valley High School, it was a needed break.

Rice got plenty of rest in the seven days between Fountain Valley’s final regular-season game and its Southern Section 5-A first-round playoff game.

It was enough, in fact, for Rice, The Times’ Athlete of the Week, to pitch a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Los Alamitos Thursday.

“That (time off) definitely helped her,” Fountain Valley Coach Cary Baker said. “It helped with her velocity.”

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Rice, a junior, agrees. “It (the rest) helped me,” she said. “The layoff kind of gave my arm a rest. When my arm is tired, sometimes it doesn’t snap on certain pitches.”

But it snapped during warm-ups, and Rice thought she would have a good game.

Then she walked the first batter.

“Ball (four) was low, but it wasn’t wild or anything, so it didn’t phase me,” Rice said.

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And if it did, she didn’t show it. Rice retired the next 21 batters, including 13 on strikeouts.

Rice, who has a 17-2 record and 0.15 ERA, will pitch again when Fountain Valley plays at Lakewood St. Joseph in a second-round game at 3 p.m. Thursday.

“We beat them once really early in the preseason and then once in the Canyon tournament,” Rice said. “But I’m sure they’re a lot better now.”

Rice said she also played against most of the St. Joseph batters during summer league games.

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“We (Rice and catcher Shannon Dolan) don’t chart batters, but because we play on club teams outside of school, we usually go against someone we know how to pitch,” Rice said. “But since I’m known as a drop pitcher, people who have played on (club) teams may have seen drop pitchers and know how to hit (a drop pitcher) better.”

Although Rice considers the drop pitch her best, she relied on other pitches against Los Alamitos.

“I think sometimes they were looking for the drop, so I could come in with a screwball and get them to pop up,” she said.

TOP PERFORMERS

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Tina Fuata had two hits, a sacrifice fly and purposely got caught in a rundown to allow the winning run to score in Mater Dei’s 4-3 victory over Katella in a Southern Section 5-A first-round softball game Thursday.

Cheryl Longeway pitched a one-hitter to lead Kennedy to a 1-0 victory over La Habra in a Southern Section 4-A first-round softball game Friday. Longeway’s teammate, center fielder Stacey Wahlsteen, doubled and scored the game’s only run and threw out a La Habra runner at the plate in the seventh inning.

Julie Muche stole home in the first to score the only run in Marina’s 1-0 victory over Camarillo in a Southern Section 5-A first-round softball game Thursday. Muche singled and stole second before two walks forced her to third. Muche stole home when the Camarillo pitcher attempted to pick off Becky Toler at second base.

Noy Sundara of Buena Park won the Southern Section girls’ singles badminton title and improved her record to 53-0 by defeating Diamond Bar’s Amy Fu, 11-4, 4-11, 11-2, at Cal State Dominguez Hills Friday.

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Rae Rice

Fountain Valley High School

* Position: Pitcher

* Height, Weight, Class: 5-7, 150, Junior.

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* Last Week: Rice pitched a no-hitter to lead Fountain Valley to a 1-0 victory over Los Alamitos in the first round of the Southern Section 5-A playoffs Thursday.

* Season: Rice is 17-2 with one save and has pitched two no-hitters and seven one-hitters. In 139 innings, she has struck out 221, walked 11, and has an 0.15 earned-run average. Rice, who bats in the middle of the lineup, has a .284 average, with three home runs and nine runs batted in.


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