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Dream Team

June 08, 2006

Michelle Tolfa was the best softball player in the Newport-Mesa area, but her season was subpar by her standards.

The numbers, a 1.50 ERA and .325 batting average, scream of dominant performances, but the Corona del Mar High junior, who heads up the Softball Dream Team as the Player of the Year, plans to make sure it does not happen again.

"I played pretty badly, probably my worst year," Tolfa, who was the Newport-Mesa Player of the Year in 2005 and a member of the 2004 Dream Team, said.

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Tolfa was a first-team All-Pacific Coast League selection, but it was not good enough by her standards. She led the league in strikeouts with 167 while only walking 19 in 135 innings. But she expected better.

"I'm kind of used to being really successful, so it was kind of a down year," Tolfa said.

Only compared to her stellar sophomore year, does Tolfa's junior year stand as a down year. In her second high school season, Tolfa had a 1.08 ERA, with nearly the same strikeouts-to-innings-pitched ratio, and hit .467 with six home runs to garner first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division IV honors. Her numbers are still up from a strong freshman year when she hit .311 and had a 1.92 ERA while splitting pitching duties.

"I was kind of hoping to hit more than two home runs this year," Tolfa said. "I have to get my confidence back. I wasn't very confident on the plate or in the circle. It was all psychological."

If Tolfa was not confident in the circle, her coach, Nichole Thompson, did not notice.

"Her even keel on the mound," Thompson said of what separates Tolfa from other pitchers. "It's always nice to know you have someone to go to."

Thompson, in three years coaching the Sea Kings, knows to expect more from Tolfa.

"People have off years," Thompson said. "She's better than most people. She doesn't have to do much work, just keep playing. There's not something in particular she needs to fix."

So Tolfa will look to travel ball to work out the kinks. Her travel ball team practiced during the high school season, every Sunday, and started playing games a week ago.

Tolfa will travel to Las Vegas for a tournament this weekend, where she will be watched by scouts from Georgetown University, a scholarship possibly hinging on her performance.

"There will be a lot of pressure," she said. "I can deal with it though."

Tolfa already visited the campus, spending the night in the dorms, and said it was "beautiful."

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