Contributing; Christine Jinbo, Doug Huff, Paul Muyskens, Mike Loveday
Pembroke Pines Charter of Pembroke Pines, Florida, is the logical choice to be the No. 1 girls softball team in the land heading into the middle of April after the team won two major tournaments in the last month.
The team first captured the Nike Faster to First Classic last month in Southern California where it was among a field of the top-ranked teams not only in California but among other western states. Pembroke Pines topped Sheldon High of Sacramento, 1-0, in the title game behind the three-hit pitching of Lauren Sewell.
Then last weekend, head coach Tom Fadul's squad played and won in the Blue Bracket at the Kissimmee Klassic in Osceola, Fla. Florida's top-ranked Class 4A team blanked previously-unbeaten Eau Gallie, 4-0, in the semifinals of that tourney and was declared the champion via a coin flip. Miami Palmetto was the scheduled opponent for Pembroke Pines, but the game was rained out.
After losing to Pembroke Pines, Sheldon bounced back to win top honors two weekends ago at the Livermore Stampede with a tense title-game triumph over defending CIF Central Coast Section Div. II champion Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. The Huskies, who also finished higher than any other California team at the Nike Faster to First tourney, are a solid No. 2 in the nation, but to become mythical national champs they're going to need a Florida team to help them out with an upset of Pembroke Pines.
Checking in at No. 3 in the first FAB 50 of the regular season is unbeaten Klein Oak of Klein, Texas. Ranked No. 1 in the powerful greater Houston area by the Houston Chronicle, Klein Oak also is No. 1 in Class 5A according to the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Curiously, no mention is made of Klein Oak in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association rankings, which does rank Plano of Texas at No. 8 in its national poll despite Plano only being at No. 8 in Texas according to the TGCA.
One team up nine spots from its preseason position is Ryle of Union, Kentucky. Kirsten Allen, who holds eight Kentucky high school pitching records, has won all eight games and is batting .450 for the unbeaten Raiders. Allen, a University of Oklahoma recruit, is 116-19 in her career with 1,475 strikeouts.
Another record-breaking pitcher and a leading candidate for EA SPORTS National Player of the Year honors, Cat Hosfield, from preseason ranked Riverdale High of Murfreesboro, Tenn., is out for the season with a fractured ankle. Moving up from Tennessee to take the place of Riverdale in the national rankings is Ooltewah High of Chattanooga.
Read below for the new Rivals.com FAB 50 national rankings for softball:
(Listed with record heading into week of April 5-11) (Preseason FAB 50 ranking in parentheses)
1. Pembroke Pines Charter (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) 22-0 (19)
2. Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.) 15-1 (4)
3. Klein Oak (Klein, Texas) 18-0 (10)
4. Eau Gallie (Melbourne, Fla.) 24-1 (nr)
5. Broad Run (Ashburn, Va.) 7-0 (5)
6. Santiago (Corona, Calif.) 14-1 (2)
7. Shadle Park (Spokane, Wash.) 6-0 (7)
8. Aledo (Aledo, Texas) 28-0 (nr)
9. Escondido (Escondido, Calif.) 17-0-2 (nr)
10. Butler (Charlotte, N.C.) 11-0 (nr)
11. Basha (Chandler, Ariz.) 22-2 (nr)
12. Regina (Harper Woods, Mich.) 2-0 (9)
13. Smithson Valley (Spring Branch, Texas) 18-0 (15)
14. Simi Valley (Simi Valley, Calif.) 17-0 (nr)
15. Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.) 20-1 (nr)
16. Kennedy (La Palma, Calif.) 16-3 (1)
17. Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) 11-0 (36)
18. Chamberlain (Tampa, Fla.) 18-2 (nr)
19. Katy (Katy, Texas) 21-4 (26)
20. Byrd (Shreveport, La.) 25-1-1 (nr)
21. Ooltewah (Chattanooga, Tenn.) 16-2-1 (nr)
22. Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 29-2 (nr)
23. Central Davidson (Davidson, N.C.) 11-0 (nr)
24. Canyon del Oro (Tucson, Ariz.) 20-4 (3)
25. Hoover (North Canton, Ohio) 7-0 (38)
26. Cabrini (Allen Park, Mich.) 0-0 (24)
27. Ryle (Union, Ky.) 8-0 (35)
28. Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) 15-4 (nr)
29. Wren (Wren, S.C.) 12-0 (nr)
30. Carl Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.) 11-0 (nr)
31. Norco (Norco, Calif.) 18-4 (16)
32. San Pedro (San Pedro, Calif.) 12-1 (33)
33. Coronado (Lubbock, Texas) 30-1 (nr)
34. Sunrise Mountain (Peoria, Ariz.) 20-2 (nr)
35. Castle (Newburgh, Ind.) 2-0 (37)
36. Mandarin (Jacksonville, Fla.) 16-1 (nr)
37. Brenham (Brenham, Texas) 24-1 (nr)
38. Chesapeake (Pasadena, Md.) 6-0 (nr)
39. Lake Park (Roselle, Ill.) 4-0 (nr)
40. El Modena (Orange, Calif.) 9-5-1 (20)
41. Mt. Carmel (San Diego, Calif.) 15-3 (nr)
42. South Panola (Batesville, Miss.) 19-2 (46)
43. Cibola (Albuquerque, N.M.) 16-0 (nr)
44. Valencia (Valencia, Calif.) 17-4 (45)
45. Brazoswood (Brazoswood, Texas) 19-3 (nr)
46. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 11-2-1 (nr)