With junior ace Danielle Lung back in the circle, reigning Division I runner-up Clovis High figured to be among the Central Section and state’s top softball teams.
With Jordyn Martinez and Grace Henson powering an offense averaging nine runs a game, the Cougars have caught the attention of national pollsters, too.
Clovis (7-0) debuted at No. 8 in Maxpreps’ national Xcellent 25 this week after capturing the title at the Kick-Off Classic tournament in Las Vegas over the weekend. The Cougars are also ranked No. 10 in the state by CalHiSports and No. 1 in the section by The Bee.
“We’re very proud of their efforts,” said Clovis coach Mike Noel, whose team has outscored opponents 63-9. “You’re never sure the way things are going to start off, especially with the weather. We thought we’d be behind, but we were real pleased with the way we swung the bats, and obviously Danielle gives us a chance to win, and she did that over the weekend.”
The Cougars received a three-run home run and a two-run single from Henson, and a 3-for-4 effort from Martinez during a 7-3 victory over Bishop Manogue-Reno in the Kick-off Classic final.
There is a long way to go. There are so many good teams in our Valley.
Clovis coach Mike Noel
Ashley Kincaid delivered a two-run triple and Emily Puente added an RBI double as Clovis beat previously nationally ranked Oaks Christian-Westlake Village 6-2 in the semifinals.
Other tournament highlights included Martinez blasting her fourth home run of the season, and school-record 14th of her career, in a 4-1 win over Salpointe Catholic-Tucson, Ariz., and a five-inning no-hitter with 11 strikeouts from Fresno State commit Lung during a 9-0 victory against Damonte Ranch-Reno. Martinez tied Amanda Scott and Alyssa Caballero on Clovis’ career homers list with a grand slam in an 18-2 win against Bishop Gorman-Nevada.
“This gives them confidence and shows them what it takes to be successful,” Noel said. “It’s a good start to the season, but they realize there is a long way to go. There are so many good teams in our Valley. They have plenty left to accomplish and plenty of battles left to fight.”
Clovis resumes action at 6:30 p.m. Friday when it hosts section No. 10 Bullard.
63-9 The margin Clovis has outscored opponents by during a 7-0 start
Stockdale, meanwhile, has risen to No. 2 in the Bee’s section Top 20 and to No. 16 in the state by CalHiSports on the strength of a 10-0 start highlighted by title runs at the Buchanan Preseason Tournament and Redwood Tournament.
The Mustangs have been led by the Hornbuckle sisters: junior second baseman and Kansas committed Cheyenne (.581, one home run, 12 RBIs), and freshman pitcher Sydney (7-0, 0.56 ERA, 43 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings.)
Central Section Softball Rankings
(Records through March 15)
- 1. Clovis (7-0)
- 2. Stockdale (10-0)
- 3. Central (6-2)
- 4. Hanford West (9-1-1)
- 5. Selma (3-2-1)
- 6. Buchanan (6-1)
- 7. Madera (6-1)
- 8. Monchae (9-0)
- 9. Liberty-Bakersfield (8-3)
- 10. Bullard (3-4)
- 11. Clovis East (4-3)
- 12. Mission Oak (5-1)
- 13. Redwood (3-3)
- 14. Clovis West (4-3)
- 15. Clovis North (1-3-1)
- 16. El Diamante (5-6-1)
- 17. Kingsburg (4-4)
- 18. Independence (6-5)
- 19. Tehachapi (9-3)
- 20. Hanford (4-5)
D-I: 1. Clovis, 2. Stockdale, 3. Central
D-II: 1. Madera, 2. Monache, 3. Redwood
D-III: 1. Independence, 2. Tehachapi; 3. Hanford
D-IV: 1. Selma, 2. Mission Oak, 3. Wasco (5-3)
D-V: 1. Coalinga (8-0), 2. Firebaugh (2-3), 3. Sierra (2-0)
D-VI: 1. Orange Cove (3-3), 2. Frazier Mountain (4-0), 3. Central Valley Christian (5-1)