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500 wins and counting for Hilltop's Acerrio Phillip Brents | Tue, May 25 2010 11:50 PM

It might be appropriate to say that Hilltop High School softball coach Nancy Acerrio has seen it all in her 23 years on the bench: the proverbial blood, sweat and tears.

And cheers.

Acerrio recorded her 500th career win - all at Hilltop - on May 11 as her Lancers defeated host Otay Ranch, 8-0, in a Mesa League contest. She upped that mark to 501 as Hilltop collected a 12-8 win against that same Mustang team to conclude the teams' two-game home-and-home series.

"Over the long haul, it's been a blast!" Acerrio said. "Even though we haven't won league the last couple years, it's still great to be coaching."

Does any one moment stand out after 23 seasons?

"Winning CIF in 1999 was special because we weren't picked to win it - but you always remember the first time," she said.

Acerrio's first CIF championship came in 1991 when the Lancers defeated Metro Conference rival Chula Vista, 1-0, for the Class 3A title. Hilltop topped USDHS, 1-0, to win the 1999 Division III championship.

The Lancers have four CIF titles to their credit (1976 under Janet Balsley and 1991, 1996 and 1999 under Acerrio). Hilltop finished runner-up in the CIF finals on two other occasions (1994-95).

Part of Acerrio's legacy at Hilltop are the hundreds of players who have gone on to play collegiate softball.

Notable alumni from the Lancer program include Debbie King (1976 CIF Player of the Year), Jackie Hill (1991 Class 3A Player of the Year), Samm Iuli (1996 Division III Player of the Year), Pauline Duenas (1997 Division III Player of the Year) and Alaina Bihler (1999 Division III Player of the Year), to name a few.

"That's a neat part of coaching - to see all these players go on and have good college careers and even have some come back to help with the program," said Acerrio, who also serves as Hilltop's athletic director.   

Acerrio's 1995 team won 20 consecutive games; the Lancers won 34 consecutive league games from 1993-96.

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