GLENDALE — For four seasons, the Foothill All-Stars softball squad has become quite accustomed to the rigors of the Section 2 Tournament. But after prevailing against Mission Hills on Tuesday, the group of Glendale girls and their coaches are venturing into unknown territory.
"Whole new experience coming up," Foothill co-Coach Todd Fabian said.
After three previous summers of coming up just short of winning at the Section 2 Tournament, the Foothill Major Softball All-Stars triumphed on Tuesday, defeating Mission Hills, 3-1, to move on to today's Southern California State Championships. They will face the Section 9 champion at 5:45 p.m. at Veterans Field in Colton.
"They're ready," Fabian said. "I really think the more games they play, I think the better they get."
Sitting at 6-1 in All-Star play, Foothill won three straight games in the Section 2 tournament to stave off elimination and claim the title after breezing to the District 16 title. The team is keyed by a core group that also dominated en route to a Tri-Cities title as part of Foothill Giuseppe's and has advanced to four straight Section 2 Tournaments since the 9-10 level.
"I think maybe why we're doing good is because we're just enjoying it," said co-Coach Tyson Howard. "It's just such a great bunch of girls."
The bunch includes speedy left-handed leadoff hitter and third baseman Sammy Fabian, along with No. 2 hitter Jordan Lousararian, three-hitter Alex Howard and clean-up batter Danielle Ryan. The latter three also pitch, with Ryan and Lousararian also playing shortstop and Howard and Lousararian playing catcher.
The trio keyed Foothill's ascent in the circle, with each of them pitching two innings apiece in both of the team's Section 2 wins over Mission Hills.
"I think you have to have … a three-headed monster," Todd Fabian said.
The strategy has worked in allowing all three pitchers to remain fresh and also to pitch on consecutive days, as tournament rules state that two innings is the maximum a player can pitch so as to pitch on the next day. For the trio itself, it also seems to lessen the pressure of the moment.
"There's always somebody else that can come in," Alex Howard said.
Howard delivered the game-winning hit in Tuesday's title-winning 3-1 victory and also got the win in the circle, completing a Section 2 stretch in which the pitching staff allowed nine runs in five games.
Going forward, the coaches admit they don't know a whole lot about potential opponents, but are quite certain the going will only get tougher.
"I assume we'll see pitching like [we did against Mission Hills] and better hitting," Fabian said. "It's gonna get a lot tougher."
The seven-team tournament begins today and a 5:45 p.m. championship game is scheduled for Wednesday with an if-necessary game to follow immediately after. Should Foothill win its opener, it would play Section 8 on Friday at 7:45 p.m. Should it lose, it would play an elimination game on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. All three Thursday games will be played at Veterans Field before the remainder of the tournament transfers to the Ken Hubbs Little League Complex.
"We're really excited," Sammy Fabian said. "We're all pumped up that we get to go on and play even more softball."