It is no surprise that Kristi Fox of Newbury Park High had an outstanding season. Truth be told, it was expected.
But Fox exceeded those expectations, leading the Panthers to a Marmonte League title and to the quarterfinal round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs.
And for the second time in three years, Fox was named the The Times’ Ventura County player of the year. Two seasons ago, she shared the spotlight with Sara Griffin of Simi Valley, who was pitcher of the year in 1994.
After that season, Griffin, who led the Pioneers to a Division I title in her senior year, shunned the attention of the well-known powerhouses and opted to play for Michigan, a school not highly regarded for softball at that time.
Fox, a 5-foot-9 senior, is following in the footsteps of her pioneering friend, opting to play for Virginia, a school not yet known in softball circles.
“The academics led me to Virginia,” said Fox, who has taken only honors classes since seventh grade. “And I think it’s a great athletic school.”
Fox’s reasons are similar to those of Griffin, who passed on schools such as UCLA and became a two-time Big 10 Conference player of the year at Michigan.
Likewise, Fox said no to schools such as Michigan, Oregon State and Cal State Northridge.
After four outstanding seasons with Newbury Park, Fox clearly saved the best for last. This season, she finished with an 0.21 earned-run average, the lowest in the pitching-rich Marmonte League. She struck out 232 and walked 31 in 196 1/3 innings.
Fox also increased her batting average nearly 50 points to .340 with six doubles. Without her, the Panthers would have been hard-pressed to make the playoffs, which already has Coach Mike Morgan wondering what he’s going to do about next year.