Central softball ace fires pefecto

Central’s Rachel Rodriguez pitched a perfect game in the Grizzlies’ 2-0 win over Bullard.

Central High’s Rachel Rodriguez pitched her first career seven-inning perfect game, stifling one of the better softball teams in the Central Section in the process.

The junior right-hander who has given an oral commitment to Boise State didn’t allow a ball out of the infield while striking out a career-high-tying 10 to lead The Bee’s No. 2-ranked Grizzlies over No. 5 Bullard on Thursday in a nonleague game.

With command of all her pitches, including an effective change-up, Rodriguez reached a three-ball count on only four hitters while firing Central’s first perfect game since Lindsey Clarkson’s against Clovis West in last season’s section Division I championship.

“She was just dominant from the beginning,” Grizzlies coach Scott Gorton said. “She threw to every location she wanted to.”

Central scored the only run Rodriguez would need in the top of the first, with pinch-runner Maryssa Kamimoto coming home from third on a double-steal with Jilee Schanda. Selena Ruiz singled in an insurance run in the fourth.

Bullard’s Claudia Puente was also sharp, pitching a two-hitter with six strikeouts.

Central, El Diamante top field for Clovis Easter Softball Classic

Rachel Rodriguez leads defending champion Central into the Clovis Easter Softball Classic

The past two Central Section Division I softball champions — Central and El Diamante highs — headline the the Clovis Easter Classic.

All of The Bee’s Central Section Top 10 are in the 23-team field for a tournament that starts Saturday at the Buchanan Softball Complex, including defending section champions in Hanford West (D-III) and Liberty-Madera Ranchos (D-V).

Pool A: Cesar Chavez, No. 7 Clovis, No. 9 Frontier, Hanford, Madera, Liberty-Madera Ranchos.
Pool B: No. 4 Buchanan, Clovis East, Dinuba, Hanford West, No. 6 Golden West, Reedley.
Pool C: No. 10 Centennial, No. 3 Clovis West, No. 1 El Diamante, Taft, Mt. Whitney, Memorial
Pool D: No. 5 Bullard, No. 2 Central, No. 7 Clovis North, Kingsburg, Lemoore.

Pool play begins Saturday and continues Monday with games on Fields’ 1-4 at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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Bullard’s Pacheco, Central’s Rodriguez earn Grizzlies Hot Stove awards

Central’s Rachel Rodriguez. (GARY KAZANJIAN/THE FRESNO BEE)

Niko Pacheco of Bullard and Rachel Rodriguez from Central will be honored Thursday as the prep baseball and softball players of the year at the Fresno Grizzlies’ 52nd Anniversary Hot Stove Gala.

The Kerman baseball squad is the team of the year and the Lions’ Jay Preuss is coach of the year.

The Al Radka Award winner also will be announced during the Hot Stove Gala at the Fresno Convention Center in downtown Fresno. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

The gala features  guest speakers Ryan Vogelsong of the San Francisco Giants and former Fresno State star Doug Fister of the Detroit Tigers.

As juniors last spring, Pacheco and Rodriguez helped lead their respective teams to Central Section D-I titles. Preuss’ Kerman team won the D-IV baseball title.

Tough choice looms for D-I girls soccer seeding

Bullard’s Erin Banda, right, tries to skirt by Sanger’s Amber Rodriguez in their girls soccer match at Sanger High on Jan. 31, 2013. (CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE)

Interesting decisions loom Saturday when Central Section soccer playoff seedings are announced, particularly in Division I for the girls.

I’m curious to see which school is anointed the top seed by section commissioner Jim Crichlow and his crew, at least as things stand at this moment.

Bullard (16-3-1) and Central (20-4) appear to be the top two contenders. The Knights and Grizzlies have split two head-to-head showdowns, with Central winning the last matchup 2-1. Bullard won the first 2-0.

The Knights have already secured no worse than a tie for the County/Metro Athletic Conference title. Central will at least win a share of the Tri-River Athletic Conference crown if it beats Clovis North and Clovis East this week.

 

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