Each week, it seems, there's a gimmick defense being tossed at Beyer High striker Jennie Marshall -- and each week the BYU-bound star finds a way to beat the tactic.
Marshall, The Bee's Player of the Year as a junior, leads the state in goals (44) and points (103). She has seven hat tricks and had six goals in a match two weeks ago, and last week had three goals and an assist in wins over Johansen and Enochs.
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"Teams are doing everything to slow her ... it has been a lot of double- and triple-teaming," coach Stuart Kaplan said. "Enochs dropped five players to the back line. I have never been more proud of a player for what she is trying to achieve and endure.
"I think the intensity she uses to push herself rubs off on the team. Jennie complements that intensity and fire with a very uplifting personality. She is hell on wheels when the game is going, and brings the team together."
Golden Valley swimming
Justin Carter appears ready to make another run at a Sac-Joaquin Section title after racing to two victories at the Central California Conference championships.
The junior set conference records while winning the 100-yard backstroke (50.75 seconds) and the 200 individual medley (1:55.31) in Pitman High's pool.
Carter was one of the surprises at last year's section meet when he beat a talented field to win the 100 backstroke in 51.86 -- the first section victory in Golden Valley's history. He also was fourth in the 200 IM at that section meet.
Carter's performances this spring have been building up to the postseason. He set a meet record while winning the 100 back in 50.72 -- a time that earned him All-American status -- at the Stanislaus County Invitational two weeks ago. He'll be back in the pool for next week's section meet at Tokay High in Lodi.
Le Grand softball
Briana Giampaoli reached the pinnacle of her high school career last spring, pitching Le Grand to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI title as a sophomore. With six players back from a team that rallied from a three-game losing streak to win its final six, though, expectations were high this spring.
Giampaoli and the Bulldogs have held up pretty well, leading the Southern League with a 10-1 record (15-5 overall). That includes last week's wins -- 8-1 over Denair and 8-0 over Mariposa, with Giampaoli firing a three-hitter in the latter.
"Briana's success this year comes from the power and placement of her pitches," coach Gia Pridell said. "She has more confidence in herself (and) her pitches."
Giampaoli has four shutouts in her last seven games, and allowed only one run in the three other games.
"As a team we find a way to have a successful season," Pridell said. "Right now we are in first place."
Russell Longworth had been able to throw the ball past many of the hitters he faced during his years of youth travel ball, but firing those same pitches past high school hitters demanded a true strategy.
"He was such a strong pitcher that he could throw his 0-2 fastball right over the plate and past a lot of kids in travel ball," Waterford coach Steve Marks said. "He's facing older kids now, so it's important that he spot and mix up those pitches."
The freshman lefty caught on quickly: He is 5-3 with a 2.63 ERA, with 41 Ks in 48 innings, and has won his last four Southern League starts. He fired a six-hitter to beat Denair 4-1 last week and keep the Wildcats in the playoff race.
"He's got tremendous movement on his fastball. It's not overpowering, but it moves about a foot and half," Marks said. "He throws three pitches for strikes, but his greatest improvement this season has been his control."