Three super sophomores just did too much and are all among this year’s final group of possible State Players of the Year. One will be named no later than Tuesday, June 25.
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One of eight standout California high school softball players will be chosen as the 2013 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State Player of the Year. The following group of eight players was selected after all games were played during the 2013 season. Previous Ms. Softball State Players of the Year since 1974 have included legendary players such as Lisa Fernandez, Michele Granger and in 2009 Keilani Ricketts from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, who was just named Most Outstanding Player for the University of Oklahoma at the College Softball World Series.
Here are the eight finalists for this year’s honor (listed in alphabetical order):
Rachel Garcia (Highland, Palmdale) Soph.
Often, when we name a sophomore as one of our Ms. Softball State POY finalists, it’s more than a clue as to who is going to be State Sophomore POY. Not this year. California’s softball sophomores are an incredible bunch and three of them crack the list of this year’s finalists. Garcia already has been chosen as the Gatorade State Player of the Year and has the phenomenal numbers to back up that selection. She finished the season as a pitcher 22-2 with a 0.50 ERA and had 302 strikeouts in 139 innings. Garcia also was prolific as a batter with a .709 average, including 13 homers, 12 doubles, 42 RBIs and a 1.380 slugging percentage. In her 79 official plate appearances, the UCLA-commit had more extra base hits than outs.
Raeann Garza (James Logan, Union City) Sr.
The 5-foot-2 but surprisingly strong senior that amazingly does not have a Division I college offer was a terror from the circle as well as at the plate. Besides being the winning pitcher in this year’s CIF North Coast Section Division I championship game, and in three of the last four CIF North Coast Section Division I title games, she’s handled the stick pretty well, particularly this past season. From the circle, Garza finished 21-1 with a 0.85 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched. She had one no-hitter and four one-hitters. At the plate, she hit .412 with a home run, two triples, six doubles and 23 RBIs.
Johanna Grauer (Amador Valley, Pleasanton) Jr.
Before she stepped in a gopher hole shagging fly balls prior to the CIF North Coast Section Division I quarterfinals, the Arizona State-committed Grauer was pitching her best, finishing the regular season with a perfect game. She ended up 22-2 with a 0.08 ERA and only two earned runs given up and 39 hits allowed in 152 innings pitched that saw her strike out 274 batters. Besides pitching the one perfect game this season, Grauer pitched three no-hitters and eight one-hitters. As a batter, after struggling with a BA below .200 until midway through league, she ended up at .328 on the season. She was the 2012 State Sophomore of the Year.
Rebecca Lee (Pacifica, Garden Grove) Sr.
The senior leader and first-base girl on a team with a load of stars and nine Division I committed players, the Ohio State-bound Lee led the team in most offensive categories and was tied or near the top in all the others. Her .495 average, nine home runs and 43 RBIs all led the team, and her 36 runs scored tied Florida-committed junior Nicole Dewitt (who got consideration as a finalist) for the team lead. Lee also had 11 doubles and a .903 slugging percentage. She was also 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts. In the field, Lee only made two errors in 192 chances for a .990 fielding percentage.
Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark) Soph.
“Easiest choice I’ve had in all my years doing this,” Rhiannon Potkey of the Ventura County Star emailed about her choice of Lorenz as the Ventura County Player of the Year. Last year’s State Freshman of the Year and one of three sophomore Ms. Softball finalists also vying for State Sophomore of the Year, Lorenz led the state in home runs most of the season until a dry spell in five of the final six games. She hit No. 17 in 2-1 loss to Oaks Christian that ended the season, and finished tied for third in the state. The 17 home runs make the Cal-Hi Sports State record book. Overall, the Florida commit hit .636 with nine doubles, 39 RBIs, 44 runs scored, and she had an astronomical 1.377 slugging percentage. In 96 plate appearances, she only struck out once and walked 18 times, and she also stole 14 bases. As a centerfielder, she was errorless.
Alyssa Palomino (Mission Viejo) Soph.
The powerfully-built granddaughter of Los Angeles area boxing legend Carlos Palomino and early Arizona commit had some knockouts of her own when it came to hitting the yellow ball. Her 18 home runs, which tied for the state lead this season, and will get her a place in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book, came against some of the state’s toughest competition. Besides the 18 long flies, the third sophomore finalist looking for both Ms. Softball and State Sophomore of the Year honors, hit .522 with nine doubles, two triples, 33 RBIs and 50 runs scored. She also stole a base on all eight attempts.
Kylie Reed (Norco) Sr.
Her numbers are not as astronomical as some big-time sluggers, but after tying for the state lead with 72 hits this season (63 singles), the Cal-bound shortstop makes the most hits list for a season in the Cal-Hi Sports state record book, plus her 210 career hits also makes the record book for a career. The single season and career marks are also the most in Inland Empire history. In 128 leadoff at-bats this season, Reed hit .563, scored 40 runs and only struck out three times. She had five walks and eight steals. She sparkled in the field in a league and playoffs where there are heavy hitters, fielding at a .935 percentage with only three errors in 124 chances. No, she doesn’t pitch but for being a leadoff hitter there have been fewer better in state history.
Erica Romero (Santiago, Corona) Sr.
The leading candidate and top player from the State Team of the Year is a legitimate candidate but is hampered to become Ms. Softball by the fact she only pitches. Even so, this past season the San Diego State-bound senior was 30-5 with a 0.79 ERA, and pitched the team to the CIF Southern Section Division I title, the nation’s toughest playoffs to capture. It also was her second CIFSS title game win, matching the feat she accomplished as a sophomore. In the 221.1 innings she pitched, and out of the 926 batters she faced, Romero struck out 274 and only yielded 55 walks.
Note: Mark Tennis contributed to this report.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend