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In the 30-plus years of honoring the best high school players in California in five sports, the argument about comparing apples and oranges is presented often.
In most comparisons of top players, that’s just not true.
But in the case of the final pair of players who could have been the 2013 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State Player of the Year – shortstop/leadoff hitter Kylie Reed of Norco and pitcher Erica Romero from Santiago of Corona – trying to choose one above the other felt like comparing apples and oranges more than ever.
The local newspaper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, didn’t have to go with one over the other as it named Reed its Player of the Year and chose Romero as its Pitcher of the Year, essentially declaring it a tie.
We looked at all of the variables, obtained the opinions of several long-time Southern California softball observers, and in the end have made the call in favor of Reed.
The senior from Norco therefore becomes the second straight Ms. Softball Player of the Year from her school, following Emily Lockman from last season. Reed also is the fourth winner of the statewide honor in a row from the Inland Empire. Catcher Lauren Sweet from Corona Santiago won in 2011 while pitcher-hitter Jessica Hall from Ayala of Chino Hills won for 2010. The last non-Inland Empire State Player of the Year was Keilani Ricketts in 2009 from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. She recently led Oklahoma to the WCWS national title.
Since Lockman both pitched and hit in leading the Cougars to the CIF Southern Section Division I title, last year’s choice was about 10 times less difficult.
In this year’s race, you had Reed with her .563 batting average, a new CIF Southern Section record of 72 hits and a top five all-time state total of 210 career hits. The Cal-bound shortstop had 66 hits last season as a junior when Norco was the No. 1 team in the nation and also scored 40 runs for the second straight year.
There also was Romero, who went 30-5 in the circle with a 0.74 ERA and 274 strikeouts for a Santiago team that beat Norco and Reed 8-2 in this year’s CIFSS Division I final. The Sharks, in fact, beat Norco three times during the season. Romero, who is headed to San Diego State, also was the winning pitcher as a sophomore in 2011 in the CIFSS Division I final.
If Romero was also a hitter like so many other recent Ms. Softball honorees, choosing her over Reed would have been easier. But she doesn’t hit, so that opened the door in our evaluations to other players, particularly Reed.
Besides, in the title game that Norco lost, Reed was nonetheless outstanding. She didn’t make any errors in the field and collected two hits in four at-bats. In fact, in the three games the two finalists played against each other, while Romero’s team won, Reed still went 6-for-11.
In going over the material collected on both players, comments about Reed’s leadoff hitting skills such as “best I’ve ever seen” were common. Romero should be applauded hugely for the season she had, especially after struggling to a 10-7 mark from 2012, but her pitching (so far in her career at least) has not generated similar “best I’ve ever seen” evaluations.
Both players may not have gotten close to the top of this year’s Ms. Softball race if Amador Valley of Pleasanton junior pitching ace Johanna Grauer had not suffered an injury prior to her team’s section semifinal playoff game or if power hitting sophomore Alyssa Palomino from Mission Viejo had hit 20 homers or more and had led her team to a CIFSS Division II title.
In addition to those two plus Reed and Romero, the other finalists for Ms. Softball were senior RaeAnn Garza from James Logan of Union City, senior Rebecca Lee from Pacifica of Garden Grove, sophomore Amanda Lorenz of Moorpark and sophomore Rachel Garcia from Highland of Palmdale.
MS. SOFTBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2013 — Kylie Reed, Norco INF
2012 — Emily Lockman, Norco P
2011 — Lauren Sweet, Corona Santiago C
2010 — Jessica Hall, Chino Hills Ayala P
2009 — Keilani Ricketts, SJ Archbishop Mitty P-DH
2008 — Jessica Spigner, Valencia P-SS
2007 — Jordan Taylor, Valencia P
2006 — Amanda Williams, Oakley Freedom P
2005 — Katie Cotta, Linden P-DH
2004 — Anjelica Selden, Travis AFB Vanden P
2003 — Lisa Dodd, San Diego University City P-DH
2002 — Alicia Hollowell, Fairfield P
2001 — Marissa Marzan, Fresno Bullard P
2000 — Jamie Southern, Clovis, P-INF
1999 — Andrea Vidlund, Orangevale Casa Roble, P
1998 — Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica, P
1997 — Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica, P
1996 — Amanda Scott, Clovis P
1995 — Courtney Dale, Fresno Bullard P (Jr.)
1994 — Sara Griffin, Simi Valley P
1993 — Sara Griffin, Simi Valley P
1992 — Leah O’Brien, Chino Don Lugo P
1991 — Jennifer Brundage, Irvine P
1990 — Karen Jackson, Roseville P
1989 — Lisa Fernandez, Lakewood St. Joseph P
1988 — Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia P
1987 — Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia P
1986 — Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia P
1985 — Jackie Oakley, Huntington Beach Ocean View P
1984 — Samantha Ford, Newhall Hart P
1983 — Shawn Andaya, Lodi P
1982 — Kandy Foust, Santa Maria Righetti P
1981 — Tracy Compton, Santa Maria Righetti P
1980 — Tracy Compton, Santa Maria Righetti P
1979 — Mary Lou Ramm, Chula Vista Hilltop P
1978 — Teri Young, El Segundo P
1977 — Karen Andrews, San Diego Henry P
1976 — Jan Jeffers, Lompoc P
1975 — Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian P
1974 — Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian P
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He also is a national editor for Student Sports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @CalHiSports