East Ridge's Tiffany Baker Chosen To EA Sports All-America Softball Team

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - by special report to The Chattanoogan

TORRANCE, Calif. -- University of Tennessee signee Tiffany Baker from East Ridge High School has been chosen a first-team infielder on the EA Sports All-America high school softball team.

Baker and Goodpasture infidler Natalie Weissinger are the only Tennesseans on the team. Weissinger also signed with the Lady Vols.

Player-of-the-Year Kirsten Shortridge of Texas and Coach-of-the-Year Mark Gerlach of Illinois headline the 30-player first team.

The process to select the first EA SPORTS National Player of the Year in softball was much like the one for boys and girls basketball. There was a favorite when the season began and that player certainly did nothing to diminish her credentials.

That’s why senior Shortridge from Keller High in Texas has been chosen as the 2006 EA SPORTS National Player of the Year.

This is the first year that the EA SPORTS All-American program has been
extended to softball. Teams are currently selected for football, boys
basketball, girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys soccer, girls soccer, boys golf and girls golf. All teams can be found by searching the EA.com
website.

“We’re happy to add the 2006 EA SPORTS High School All-American Softball Team to our honors program,” said Brian Movalson, EA SPORTS Senior Brand Manager. “These young women all had outstanding high school seasons and we know how hard they’ve all worked. We look forward to seeing many of them make significant impacts at the collegiate level in the near future.”

Shortridge was joined on the first team by Garland High sophomore Tomi
Garrison, the pitcher she lost to in a tough extra-inning game that decided
the Class 5A Texas state championship, plus three other players from Texas.

As usual for softball, California led the way with seven first team
All-Americans. In addition to Texas with five, Arizona was another state that landed five on the first team.

One of the California girls, pitcher Amanda Williams from FAB 50 national
champion Freedom of Oakley, was the only other serious contender to be player of the year. But Williams doesn’t hit, while Shortridge was more of a phenom whether she was in the circle or with a bat in her hands.

After leading Keller to the Class 5A state title as a junior, Shortridge had another big-time season as a senior. She missed two games with an injury (Keller lost one of those games) and might not have been quite back up to full-strength in a loss to St. Benedict of Tennessee. Shortridge went the distance in Keller’s 2-1 loss to Garland in extra innings in this year’s title game. That was the same team she beat in a similar title game the year before.

Shortridge’s final totals showed her with a 32-3 pitching mark that included a 0.23 ERA and 438 strikeouts. She had eight no-hitters and three perfect games. The Baylor University recruit also was one of the top hitters in Texas with a .539 average, 48 hits and 35 runs scored. The 18-year-old with the 3.56 GPA showed some speed on the bases as well with 36 steals.

For her career, which started at small school Birdville, Shortridge has been given credit for 112 wins and 1,544 strikeouts. The strikeout total is believed to be an all-time record for Texas and unofficially ranks in the top 10 nationally.

The annual EA SPORTS All-American Team is selected by the editors of Student Sports, which have compiled national rankings in numerous sports for more than 15 years. The format for the team calls for it not to be selected until all teams have finished their seasons, which makes the EA SPORTS honors more reflective of players who led their teams to state championships. The teams also are chosen after almost all of the numerous all-state teams around the
country have been released.

In his seventh season at the Quad Cities area school, Coach-of-the-Year Gerlach put together a complete team that dominated en route to winning the Illinois Class AA state
championship. In the title game alone against Downer’s Grove South, Moline
plated 11 runs in the first inning and went on to an 11-0 mercy-rule win.
Moline ended the year with a 40-0-1 record and outscored its foes by a
whopping 262-29 margin. The team also finished the season with a streak of 73 innings in which it did not allow a run. And in addition to the 11-0 title game win, the Maroons won their other state tournament games by scores of 14-0 and 6-0.

"We were a faster and more aggressive team this year," Gerlach told
StudentSportsSoftball.com. "The balance of pitching, hitting and team speed has made all the difference."

The coach upped his career record at Moline to 208-42-3. One of his assistant coaches was his daughter, Alicia, who played at Iowa and still holds the Hawkeyes’ record for career home runs.

Here are the bios for all 30 players selected to this year’s first team:

Catchers

Jessica Breeden (Martinsville, Ind.) Sr. One of the nation’s most versatile girls athletes, Breeden led Martinsville to its second straight Class 4A state title and was chosen Miss Softball for the Hoosier State. She had a .511 batting average and hit 11 home runs. She also drove in the only run in the state final on a double and hit a grand slam in the state all-star game. Breeden is headed to the University of Indiana at
Indianapolis where she will play volleyball.

Stacie Chambers (Cactus, Glendale, Ariz.) Sr. The Cobras won three state titles in the last four years and the Arizona-bound Chambers was a major reason why. She was a home run machine, slugging 48 in her career which is a new state record, and she may have had more if not for a nagging back injury this spring. The lefty with a Ted Williams-like swing also compiled a .496 career batting average.

Kaila Shull (Jim Elliot Christian, Lodi, Calif.) Sr. The competition Kaila faced may be small-school, but she’s a big-time hitter that was recruited by major college powerhouses and signed last November with UCLA. She tied a state record with 17 homers and had a batting average of .740. She also led her team to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. V title. For her career, Shull also set new state records with a .671 batting average, 45 homers and 211 RBI.

Pitchers

Gina Allen (Central Caburrus, Concord, N.C.) Sr. Although Central had its 83-game win streak stopped and was unable to “threepeat” and earn another state title, Allen had a season and career to be proud of. Headed to North Carolina-Charlotte, the senior went 26-1 as a senior and passed the 100 win mark for her career. She also was a two-time
state playoffs MVP.

Brittany Cuevas (Brazoswood, Clute, Texas) Sr. After leading her team to the semifinals of the Class 5A state playoffs, Cuevas was named Co-Player of the Year by the Houston Chronicle. Cuevas also was on the all-state team. She pitched four playoff shutouts and only allowed two postseason runs in six games before running into eventual state champ
Garland. Cuevas will play next season at Louisiana Tech.

Marissa Drewrey (Oakdale, Calif.) Sr.
The University of California-bound hurler was named the State Medium Schools Player of the Year by CalHiSports.com. She started the season with four straight no-hitters and ended it with four straight playoff shutouts as her team won its second straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III title. Drewrey
walked just six batters in 149 innings and had 294 strikeouts.

Kelsi Dunne (Spruce Creek, Port Orange, Fla.) Jr. The 5-foot-11 junior was selected the state Miss Softball after leading leading her team to the state Class 6A title game. Her 77 2/3-inning shutout
streak ended in the third inning of the 3-1 title loss to Palm Beach Gardens. On the season, she was 26-6 with an earned run average of 0.19 and her 461 strikeouts is second best in state history. She hurled nine no-hitters and 24 shutouts. She struck out 38 in a 17-inning, 1-0 regional finals' win over Lake Mary. She also batted .423 with 18 extra base hits and 32 runs batted in.

Megan Elliott (Calvert, Prince Frederick, Md.) Sr. The Washington Post Player of the Year rang up two perfect games in the postseason to lead her team to the Maryland Class 2A state title. Elliott, the
winningest pitcher in Maryland history, had a 0.08 ERA for the season. The standout headed to Arizona State also made a name for herself last summer on the travel ball circuit for the Virginia Shamrocks.

Kenzie Fowler (Canyon del Oro, Tucson, Ariz.) Fr. One of the top pitchers in the nation at any age, Fowler led Canyon del Oro to the Arizona 4A Div. I title game, a 1-0 loss to Glendale Cactus, but with 14
returning starters the Dorados will be the team to beat in Arizona next
spring. Fowler, an extremely hard thrower who has hit 70 mph on occasion, finished her first varsity season with 420 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.11 in 31 games.

Tomi Garrison (Garland, Texas) Soph.
Talk about your storybook season, Garrison went 22-1 with a 0.31 ERA and was the winning pitcher in the exciting 13 inning win over Keller to capture the Texas Class 5-A championship. She also hit .420 for the Lady Owls and will be one of eight returning underclassmen to make Garland the team to beat next year in Texas.

Katie Holverson (Cactus, Glendale, Ariz.) Sr. Nicknamed the “Puppy,” Holverson was more like a growling bulldog on the mound. Intense and competitive, she only lost six games in her entire career (mark of 96-6) and this season went 26-3 with 18 shutouts to lead Cactus to a
thrilling 1-0 state title win over Kenzie Fowler and Tucson Canyon del Oro. Holverson was also named the Arizona Republic’s Big School Player of the Year in part because she helped her cause at the plate with nine HRs and 34 RBI.

Nicole Nemitz (Regina, Harper Woods, Mich.) Sr. The University of Michigan recruit, and state Player of the Year, led the Lady Saddlelites to three straight state Division 1 titles. including a 38-2 record as a senior. She went 22-1 on the mound with six no-hitters including a 1-0 state quarterfinal win over Garden City. She also batted .400 from the leadoff spot and doubled twice in the 8-0 finals' win over White Lake Lakeland. The lefthander also hurled a two-hit shutout and struck out 11
without a walk in the title game.

Cody Trahan (Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Orange, Texas) Sr. The LSU-bound Trahan was the Class 4A Player of the Year from the Lone Star
State (Kirsten Shortridge was 5A) and it was an easy choice after she tied a
state championship game record with 18 strikeouts in her team’s title game
triumph over Dripping Springs. Trahan, who had nearly 500 strikeouts for the season, also led her team in batting with a .470 average. One opposing coach walked her on seven straight plate appearances.

Amanda Williams (Freedom, Oakley, Calif.) Sr. Northern California has been a real hotbed for pitching phenoms in recent years and Williams is right there with the best of them. She was the Ms. Softball State Player of the Year after allowing only six walks and 10 hits for the entire season while striking out 365, compiling a 23-0 record and a 0.07 ERA. Williams, heading to Arizona, also tied a state record by throwing
three straight perfect games midway through the season. Freedom’s unbeaten
season record and No. 1 ranking overall for California also helped the team finish No. 1 overall for the nation in the final Student Sports FAB 50.

Infielders

K’Lee Arredondo (McClintock, Tempe, Ariz.) Sr. Headed to the national champion homestate Wildcats, Arredondo was a 1st team All-Arizona pick because of her smooth fielding abilities and switch hitting prowess at the plate. A good bet to replace Autumn Champion in left field for
Arizona, Arredondo is a multi-tool player who combines speed with power. She was hitting over .600 for much of the season and went 5-for-7 in two games against Tempe High, coached by her mother, Shelly.

Tiffany Baker (East Ridge, Chattanooga, Tenn.) Sr. She was the Gatorade player of the year for Tennessee and will be playing for
the homestate Volunteers in college. Baker is a three-time all-stater and in her senior year had a .600 batting average. She also was among the leaders in her area in home runs and RBIs for each of the last two seasons.

GiOnna DiSalvatore (Countryside, Clearwater, Fla.) Jr. A defensive whiz at shortstop who is productive at the plate, she already committed to 11-time national champion UCLA before her junior season and after
visiting Florida, Texas and other colleges. The first team Class 5A all-stater batted over .400 as a junior after hitting .500 with 34 runs batted in as a sophomore. She’s regarded as one of the best pure hitters to come out of the Florida prep ranks in years.

Nicole Kajitani (Cajon, San Bernardino, Calif.) Sr. She was the CIF Southern Section Div. II player of the year after leading her
team to the divisional championship. Kajitani, a four-year standout headed to national power Tennessee, connected for a .512 batting average and was flawless on defense.

Bianca Mejia (El Camino Real, Woodland Hills, Calif.) Sr. After transferring from nearby Sylmar, Mejia blasted onto the state and
national scene with gargantuan batting totals. She smacked 16 homers and drove in 75 runs to threaten a pair of state records and also had a .604 batting average. Mejia was named as the L.A. Times’ Player of the Year over a strong group of other possible players the newspaper could have chosen.

Natalie Weissinger (Goodpasture, Madison, Tenn.) Sr. In four years at the top of the lineup for her team, Weissinger was a key to Goodpasture winning four state titles, this year in a higher division. She was the first non-pitcher to be the Nashville Tennessean’s Player of the Year in
a decade and came through with a .503 batting average, scored 28 runs, went
21-for-21 on steal attempts and only made four errors in 46 games. Weissinger will play next year at national powerhouse Tennessee.

Outfielders

Erin Fisher (Woodinville, Wash.) Sr.
It’s not often that outfielders gain player of the year nods, but Fisher was voted as the Class 4A state player of the year in Washington. She was a key player for Woodinville’s state title team from 2005 and had an even better season individually in 2006 although the team did not repeat. Fisher, a standout student-athlete headed to Fordham University, had an on-base average of .626 and hit .471 with 11 home runs and 28 RBI heading into the postseason.

Ashley Griffith (Lenape, N.J.) Sr.
The speedy Penn State recruit repeated as an all-state first team honoree and was a state Player of the Year honoree. She batted .486 with 26 runs scored and stole 36 bases in 38 attempts. In her junior year, she swiped 50 bases in 51 tries. Griffith also is a three-sport standout including goalie in field hockey and a shot putter in track.

Kara Rutenbar (Bartow, Fla.) Sr.
We could have just as easily penciled in Bartow sophomore pitcher Candace
Howell on the first team but decided to go with the senior outfielder Rutenbar on first team with Howell on the second. Rutenbar was the leading hitter for Bartow’s team that won its fourth straight state title. The daughter of head coach Glenn Rutenbar also led the team in RBIs. Perhaps her biggest hit was a booming RBI triple to account for the only run in a 1-0 playoff win in extra innings against Auburndale.

Jessica Vohs (Bradshaw Mountain, Prescott Valley, Ariz.) Jr. Vohs was perhaps the top leadoff hitter this year in Arizona. She not only hit
for a high average (.505) and showed outstanding speed on defense, but she
also hit for power, which was shown by her having 10 home runs.

Multi-Purpose

Sarah Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) Sr.
She didn’t pitch as many innings as some other notable performers from the
Golden State, but Akamine still had a 0.16 ERA and was in the circle for the
biggest games as her team won the CIF San Diego Section Div. I title and ended at No. 2 in the state rankings. Akamine, another EA SPORTS All-American headed to Arizona, also was one of the top hitters in the section. She had a .468 batting average.

Alex Hupp (Olathe East, Olathe, Kan.) Sr. The University of Nebraska recruit led East to three straight state Class 6A titles and a 73-2 record during that period. This season, the State Player of the Year helped East to a 24-1 mark and boosted her career record to 69-1. She
closed her career with 41 strikeouts in 22 innings of the three-game state
tournament, including 28 whiffs while allowing a meaningless seventh inning
final game run on the last day of the event.

Rhiannon Kleising (Pearland, Texas) Jr. This standout junior was the other Co-Player of the Year by the Houston Chronicle along with Brazoswood Clute pitcher Brittany Cuevas. The two staged several extra-inning duels during the season. Cuevas’ team won the most important of those games in the state playoffs, but Kleising also was a top hitter in addition to being a top pitcher. She had 13 shutouts, two no-hitters, struck out 285 batters and had a 0.34 ERA. Kleising also had a .343 batting average and led her team in doubles. She has already committed to play in college at Texas A&M.

Megan Langenfeld (Centennial, Bakersfield, Calif.) Sr. You won’t find too many players more versatile than Langenfeld, who’s a dominant pitcher and devastating hitter. The UCLA signee only allowed five runs in 161 innings while striking out 205 and only allowed eight walks. At
the plate, she hit an astounding .608 and only struck out eight times all
season. Her slugging percentage was Ruthian at .969.

Torrey Schroeder (Buchanan, Clovis, Calif.) Sr. Possibly one of the top players ever from the loaded CIF Central Section, Schroeder lost a tough 24-inning game in her finale, but was still a finalist for the Ms. Softball State Player of the Year honor. She had a 0.25 ERA and amassed 393 strikeouts. As a batter, she was consistently around the .400 mark
and often was even better in clutch situations. Schroeder is headed to the
University of Texas.

Kirsten Shortridge (Keller, Texas) Sr.
The EA SPORTS National Player of the Year has drawn some comparisons to the
last player of the year from Texas, three-time NCAA Player of the Year Cat
Osterman, but she doesn’t have Osterman’s height. Don’t be surprised if Shortridge has even more success down the road as a position player and not as a pitcher.

EA SPORTS ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM (30)
(Listed alphabetically)

Catchers
Lauren Grill (Tualatin, Ore.) Sr.
Storia Guffey (St. Amant, La.) Jr.

Pitchers
Ashley Brignac (John Curtis, River Ridge, La.) Jr.
Danielle Glosson (North Davidson, Lexington, N.C.) Jr.
Kristen Gordon (Cocoa, Fla.) Sr.
Candace Howell (Bartow, Fla.) Soph.
Jamie Lettire (Presentation, San Jose, Calif.) Sr.
Kristie Malinkey (Keystone, La Grange, Ohio) Sr.
Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif.) Jr.
Anna Thompson (Grissom, Huntsville, Ala.) Sr.
Erin Tresselt (Elkins, Fort Bend, Texas) Sr.

Infielders
Molly Bausher (Spring Valley, Las Vegas, Nev.) Sr.
C.J. Carlson (Corona del Sol, Tempe, Ariz.) Sr.
Jen Dutremble (Biddeford, Maine) Sr.
Tory Haddad (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) Sr.
Krystle Huey (Garland, Texas) Jr.
Samantha Ingersoll (Stone Bridge, Ashburn, Va.) Sr.
Lauren Meister (Downer’s Grove South, Downer’s Grove, Ill.) Sr.
Kara Nelson (Moline, Ill.) Sr.
Lauren Schutzler (Notre Dame, Salinas, Calif.) Jr.

Outfielders
Neena Bryant (El Dorado, Placentia, Calif.) Sr.
Laura Mendes (Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach, Fla.) Jr.
Erikka Murphy (Victoria Memorial, Victoria, Texas) Sr.
Kelsey Volz (Red Mountain, Mesa, Ariz.) Sr.

Multi-Purpose
Marissa Alvidrez (Liberty, Bakersfield, Calif.) Sr.
Letty Olivarez (Newark Memorial, Newark, Calif.) Sr.
Lindsey Palmer (Tooele, Utah) Sr.
Gabriella Parra (West Mesa, Albuquerque, N.M.) Sr.
Brooke Turner (Kennedy, La Palma, Calif.) Jr.
Ashton Ward (Butler, Charlotte, N.C.) Jr.

(E-mail Stan Crawley at wscrawley@earthlink.net)


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