Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Soft Touch: Hey, Get a Whiff of This

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Soft Touch: Hey, Get a Whiff of This

Article excerpt

They are to women's softball what Air Jordan was to basketball, what the Great Gretzky, in his prime, was to hockey, what Lawrence Taylor was to linebacking.

In a sport ruled by pitching, Michele Granger and Lisa Fernandez rule the roost.

Get a whiff of this: At the University of California-Berkeley, Granger set NCAA records for career (1,640), season (484) and single-game strikeouts (26).

A bad day for Granger: "If anybody scores," she said.

At UCLA, Fernandez set an NCAA record for winning percentage with a career mark of 93-7, and had a career earned-run average "of something like 0.22 a game."

That's one earned-run every four games.

Hits against this pair are rare events. Runs, a cause for celebration. Home runs aren't even annual events. When's the last time Fernandez yielded a home run?

"Oh gosh," Fernandez said, her memory taxed. "It was probably a year ago. Jenny Dalton of Arizona. It was a college game. In my UCLA career I probably had two home runs hit off me."

If you think you can do better, go ahead and try. Former Braves great and National League MVP Dale Murphy did in an exhibition a couple of years ago in Atlanta.

"He swung, but he missed," Fernandez said. Several times.

"He was impressed," Fernandez said.

Who wouldn't be? Fernandez brings it at 68 mph. Now keep in mind that the rubber in international women's softball is 40 feet from the plate - compared to 60 feet 6 inches in baseball. Murphy saw heat unlike anything in the major leagues.

"We throw harder than a Nolan Ryan fastball," Fernandez said. "That's how quick the ball gets there."

It could've been worse for Murph. He could have been facing Granger.

"Michele's probably one of the hardest throwers," Fernandez said. "What I'm known for is more of the finesse side of the game."

Oh.

Granger and Fernandez, both one year removed from college competition, are among the most recognizable names in town for the Olympic Festival. …

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