Pembroke Pines returns to chase for FAB 50 title


Editor's note: The ESPN RISE FAB 50 softball rankings are compiled by Garland Cooper, Doug Huff, Mark Tennis and Paul Muyskens. They will be released each Wednesday throughout the season.

After winning top honors a year ago in the inaugural Nike Faster to 1st tournament, Pembroke Pines Charter of Florida was in prime position to finish the 2008 high school softball as the No. 1 team in the FAB 50 national rankings.

That didn't happen due to an upset loss to Naples in the Class 4A state final and the Jaguars started out this year with an early loss.

So far, however, that's been their only blemish and last week they re-inserted themselves into the race for the top of the charts by winning the Blue Bracket title at the prestigious Kissimmee Klassic.

Among the teams that Pembroke Pines beat in that event were Chamberlain (Tampa, Fla.) and Niceville (Fla.), two teams that were unbeaten entering the week.

Pembroke jumped from No. 40 all the way to No. 5 in this week's ESPN RISE FAB 50. And if the Jaguars get another shot at Naples in the playoffs this year and win, they could be in line to finish No. 1, providing there are upsets in the California and Texas playoffs.

Even with Pembroke's dramatic rise in the rankings, the Jaguars are still behind Naples in this week's FAB 50. The Golden Eagles moved up from No. 7 to No. 3.

Still in the No. 1 position this week -- just as it was in the preseason and coming into the Nike Faster to 1st tournament two weeks ago -- is unbeaten Sheldon of Sacramento, Calif.

Coach Mary Jo Truesdale's squad put on a show in Huntington Beach with four shutout wins, including a 8-0 win in the semifinals against Camarillo and a 2-0 victory in the finals against Canyon of Anaheim, 2-0. Pitcher Jolene Henderson posted all of the shutouts and was considered the tourney's MVP.

Sheldon's next big test potentially will come next weekend at the Livermore Stampede tournament. It's not as star-studded a field as there was at the Faster to 1st, but unbeaten Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, led by University of Oklahoma-bound pitcher Keilani Ricketts, will be there so it could be a Sheldon vs. Mitty championship final.

Check out the full FAB 50 here.