Be it by chance or by design, some players gradually develop into what coaches refer to as "cornerstones" of their teams.

That was the case this spring for seniors Michael Fulwiler and Shawnqunisha Simpson.

Fulwiler, a shortstop and cleanup hitter, boosted Kubasaki’s baseball team to an 11-victory improvement over its 2007 record (18-7) and a second straight Okinawa Activities Council district championship.

Simpson, a second-year goalkeeper, racked up 14 shutouts in 23 games to lift Daegu American’s girls soccer team to a 15-6-2 mark, best in school history, and a second straight trip to the Far East Girls Class A Tournament final.

For their efforts, Fulwiler and Simpson have been chosen as Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school spring season Athletes of the Quarter.

"He’s the heart and soul of the team, definitely," fourth-year Kubasaki coach Randy Toor said of Fulwiler. "He’s the leader on and off the field. He knows what Kubasaki baseball is, and he exemplifies it."

Fulwiler batted .570 with 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and only eight strikeouts. Kubasaki beat archrival Kadena a school-record nine times.

"He has worked hard," Toor said of Kubasaki’s student-body and National Honor Society president. "All those hours he spent on the field, all the work he’s put in; I know he wanted it."

With Daegu losing key cogs Kat Nufable (15 goals, graduation) and Sarah Eades (16 goals, transfer to Seoul American), the Warriors needed a spark in net, which Simpson gave them.

She gave up only 20 goals in 23 matches, 15 during the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Council regular season, none during the KAIAC tournament in which Daegu placed fifth, and five during the Class A tournament, all vs. Faith Academy, which beat Daegu in the final 4-0.

"If it weren’t for her, Daegu doesn’t finish where it did," athletic director Michelle Chandler said of Simpson, Daegu’s student council president. "She saved a lot of shots that potentially could have been goals. She’s worked hard."

The rest of the Stars and Stripes spring quarter awards:

Coach of the quarter: In his sixth season as Zama American track coach, Mitch Moellendick and the Trojans made school history by capturing their first boys Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title behind versatile senior Eric Tank, sprinter Miguel Rodriguez and distance specialist Andrew Quallio.Team of the quarter: Behind senior Remco Rademaker’s Pacific-record 61 goals and 28 assists and Pacific career-record 183 goals, Seoul Foreign went unbeaten for the first time (23-0). The Crusaders won their seventh straight KAIAC tournament and sixth straight regular-season title.Program of the quarter: Kubasaki noses out a tightly bunched field, with the OAC baseball title, first place in the boys Class AA soccer tournament, second in the girls Class AA tournament and second in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools invitational track and field meet.Most improved team: After never getting a whiff of the .500 mark in the school’s 10-year history, Mikel Nelson, Sei Tajima, Alan Diaz, Jason Taitano and the Guam High boys volleyball team went a school-best 12-6 and reached the final four in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam playoffs.Most improved program: Aside from track and field’s historic heights, Zama’s soccer teams went a combined 34-14-1, best in school history.Best baseball performance: Besides Fulwiler, there was Seoul American pitcher Tristan Heckerl, who went 7-4 with a 1.20 ERA, with an astronomical 109 strikeouts in 42 innings. That’s 18.2 per seven-inning game.Best soccer performances: Besides Simpson, first-year sophomore keeper Gabby Falco backstopped a Kubasaki team that just missed its second straight Class AA title. Faith Academy sweeper Mary Shaw was chiefly responsible for the Vanguards’ girls Class A title, squelching run after run with that big left kick. Zama freshman Mallarie Ashliman scored 43 goals, seven short of her sister Aubrey’s school and Japan season records. Jacob Hess’ 12 goals in eight matches were chiefly responsible for Kubasaki’s boys Class AA title run.Best track performances: Seoul Track Club junior Mark Lieberg’s 48-foot, 6-inch shot put during April’s Mike Petty Memorial Meet on Okinawa was the Pacific’s best throw in decades. Guam High’s D’Andre Weaver took first in the 100, long jump and high jump in the IIAAG finals and his 6-2 topped all high jumpers in the region. Christian Academy in Japan’s Blake Bannister repeatedly broke his 800 record, finishing the season at 1:57.3. Kadena’s Roosevelt Payne went unbeaten in the OAC 200, 400 and 400 relay. And Zama’s Andrew Quallio kept threatening Kanto records in the 1,600 and 3,200, clocking 4:29.4 and 9:58.95.Best softball performance: With coach Ken Hudson out of options, senior Monica Hayes took the hill a day after pitching a complete-game loss in Game 1 of the OAC district softball championship. She threw every pitch from the fourth inning of the second game on, and while not a perfect performance, it was enough for Kadena to rally for 11-10 and 9-8 victories and the sixth straight OAC title for the Panthers.Best transfer: Eades followed her Daegu championship season with 20 goals and 11 assists as Seoul American’s girls went 19-2-2, including a 17-0-1 regular season that was the best in coach Lori Rogers’ tenure.Play/game of the quarter: They truly saved the best for last. In the third overtime period, senior Colton Sadler booted an indirect kick from 40 yards out to his junior brother Cody. Cody’s header broke a scoreless tie and pushed Kubasaki’s boys past defending champion CAJ 1-0 in the boys Class AA title match.The nominees

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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