(After games of Tuesday, May 29)
Here are this week’s high school softball players of the week. One player is chosen from each region of the country. The only other criteria is that no player will be chosen more than once during a season.
Susan Pardo, Kellenberg Memorial (Uniondale, N.Y.)
The senior right-handed pitcher led the Firebirds to a 29-0 record and the school's first Catholic High School Athletic Association state title by tossing a pair of shutouts in a doubleheader. The two-time CHSAA Pitcher of the Year struck out 26 and allowed only three hits in the two games. The Wesleyan University recruit fanned 15 batters, including the side in the seventh to finish the game, and yielded only two hits and two walks in the 5-0 final game win over defending champion Archbishop Molloy (Middle Village, N.Y.). In the 2-0 semifinal win over Sacred Heart Academy (Buffalo, N.Y.), she allowed only a first-inning leadoff single and fanned 11 batters.
Samantha Smith, Gibbs (Knoxville, Tenn.)
After firing two shutouts earlier in the Class AA state tournament, Smith came up with a two-hitter to lead the Eagles past Goodpasture (Madison, Tenn.) 2-0 in a win that gave them the state title. Smith’s pitching sparked a 22-game win streak for Gibbs, which finished 42-5 and won its first state crown since 2000. Smith also is one of the top scholar-athletes in Tennessee with a 4.0 GPA and she is among the top 10 academically in her senior class.
Mariah Schultz, Luther (Onalaska, Wis.)
The 5-foot-8 junior pitcher was perfect in a 3-0 Knights' victory over Melrose-Mindoro (Melrose, Wis.) in the Division 3 state regional tournament. Schultz, who was conference Most Valuable Player as a sophomore, hurled her perfect game for the 20-4 Knights while striking out 12 batters. She also provided the only run needed to win with a homer.
Cali Lanphear, Montgomery (Texas)
A senior catcher who is headed to Texas A&M, Lanphear has been on a slugging tear for the Bears in the Class 4A state playoffs. Three weeks ago, she blasted a grand slam to end a 2-0 sweep of Nederland (Texas). Two weeks ago, in a 2-0 sweep of Manvel (Texas), Lanphear had three hits in one game and had two homers and a double in the other. Then last week in the regional final, sandwiched around a loss to Little-Cypress (Mauriceville, Texas), she hit two-run homers in the two games that Montgomery won. Lanphear enters this week’s Class 4A state semifinals with 21 homers for the season.
Lindsey Clarkson, Central (Fresno, Calif.)
Facing a Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.) team that had upset FAB 50-ranked El Diamante (Visalia, Calif.) in its previous game, Clarkson put it all together and pitched a perfect game for the Bears in their 4-0 victory over the Golden Eagles in the CIF Central Section Division I championship. Clarkson only struck out five, but got numerous pop-ups and grounders and only went to a three-ball count twice. Central finished 28-6 and won its first CIF section title.