All-State Softball: First Team

Both of these girls — Gianna Mancha from Central of Fresno (left) and Ryan Denhart (Los Alamitos) — have earned writeups and first team all-state accolades. For Mancha, it was a close call over several others. For Denhart, she’s been locked on to the first team after the CIFSS finals. Photos: Courtesy family & Patrick Takkinen/SoCalSidelines.com.


The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the final state and national rankings combine for five first team picks to headline this year’s 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Softball Team. We’ll make you go inside to read whether it’s Los Alamitos or Norco, however, that had three. This group of 30 players is the best of the best regardless of year in school or size of school. The ones that played in the toughest, top section playoffs have an advantage, but there are a handful of medium and small school players who cracked the top squad.

For the all-state second and third teams, CLICK HERE.
For the all-state underclass teams (Gold Club post), CLICK HERE.
For the all-state small & medium school teams, CLICK HERE.
For Gold Club post of our all-time all-state first team softball archive back to 1992 (with second team back to 2004), CLICK HERE.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post. We’ll have an inside look at this year’s all-state softball teams after all of the teams are chosen, including names of other players that can be considered all-state sophomores and freshmen. That post plus more unique California high school sports content is for Gold Club members only. To join our team today, CLICK HERE.

Congratulations to these players who’ve been named first team overall for the 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state softball honors program (thanks to Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens for contributions):

CATCHERS

Sophomore catcher Kinzie Hansen of Norco is one of the top college prospects in the nation in her class. She has committed to Oklahoma. Photo: FloSoftball.com.


Lilly Bishop (Grand Terrace) Sr.
Entering the season with high expectations after hitting .512 with 35 runs batted in during her junior season, Bishop did even better this season as she hit .524 with 45 runs batted in and 11 home runs in helping the Titans reach the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals. At one point during the season, this North Carolina State bound standout hit six home runs in a six-game game span and eight home runs over a 10-game span.

Kinzie Hansen (Norco) Soph.
Following up being our State Freshman of the Year last season, she was named as our State Sophomore of the Year for 2017 after hitting .470 with 43 runs batted in. With multiple game-winning runs batted in during the season, Hansen drove in the winning run in the semifinals and the finals of the Michelle Carew Classic. She also is considered an elite catcher defensively where she spent most of the season catching eventual Ms. Softball State Player of the Year Taylor Dockins. Already committed to Oklahoma, she is considered the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the Class of 2019 by FloSoftball.

Madison Huskey (Gahr, Cerritos) Jr.
It’s another honor for this Washington-bound junior who was also named the CIFSS Division II Player of the Year, Long Beach Press Telegram Dream Team First Team and to our All-State Underclass First Team. Playing both the outfield and catching, she hit .549 with 53 runs batted in, 43 runs scored, 15 doubles and 16 home runs. On a team filled with numerous returning players, Huskey emerged as an elite player this season.

Mary Iakopo (Los Alamitos) Sr.
She’d arguably deserve to be the top player on the board off of Los Al’s CIF Southern Section Division I title team that also was No. 1 in the nation. Iakopo was MVP of the Sunset League after all and has played on the USA junior national team. She also led the Griffins with 26 RBI to go with a .373 average and just has an almost Buster Posey-like presence behind the plate. Iakopo will play next at Oregon.

PITCHERS

Holly Azevedo (Pioneer, San Jose) Sr.
Despite being slowed by an injury and pitching in just 17 games, she still nearly struck out 200 batters this season. To be exact, Azevedo went 10-4 with a 0.27 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 104 innings. Named as our State Sophomore of the Year two years ago and the San Jose Mercury News Player of the Year for two years in a row during her sophomore and junior seasons, she finished her high school career going 82-10 with a 0.31 ERA and 982 strikeouts in 616.1 innings pitched. In her final performance of the season before she heads to UCLA, Holly struck out 23 while walking just one but an unearned run was the difference in a 1-0 loss to Watsonville in the CIF CCS Division I playoffs.

Taliyah Miles (pitcher) and Maci Fines (outfield) both nabbed first team all-state honors after leading Sheldon of Sacramento to its third straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title and 30-2 record. Photo: Mark Tennis.


Ryan Denhart (Los Alamitos) Sr.
As the ace of the No. 1 team in the state and nation, Denhart is as much a no-brainer for this year’s first team as anyone. She had a three-hitter and struck out six when the Griffins knocked off unbeaten Norco 3-1 in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the nation battle for the CIFSS D1 title. For the season, the Maryland-bound standout finished 25-3 with a 0.94 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 134 innings. She only allowed two earned runs in four playoff games. Denhart already has been named the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Player of the Year.

Taylor Dockins (Norco) Sr.
Our Ms. Softball State Player of the Year and consensus national player of the year is still enjoying the fanfare of what she accomplished this season in the aftermath of having cancer surgery last summer. Dockins and her family are now going to have to undergo further treatment this summer. Despite her .454 batting average, we’re listing her on the all-state team as a pitcher with her 33-1 record and 0.95 ERA. She also set the CIF Southern Section record and moved to No. 4 on the all-time state list with 108 career wins.

Maddy Dwyer (Lutheran, Orange) Sr.
A finalist for our Ms. Softball State Player of the Year and winner of the Orange County Register Pitcher of the Year, Dwyer she went 28-5 with a 1.15 ERA for the Lancers during their CIFSS Division I semifinal season. Leading Orange County in multiple pitching categories she struck out 203 batters in 171 innings and pitched 14 shutouts on the year. She also hit .333 with 16 runs batted in and five home runs. Over her four seasons, she went 104-23 and now will be headed to Stanford.

Megan Faraimo (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) Jr.
The 2017 State Junior Player of the Year led the Dons to the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title. Committed to UCLA for more than a year and ranked as one of the nation’s top Class of 2018 college prospets, Faraimo had a 27-1 pitching mark with a 0.60 ERA. She also struck out 251 batters in 175.1 innings and is also 52-6 in her first three varsity seasons.

Nicole May (Foothill, Pleasanton) Fr.
Not only did she dominate in the month of May as the Falcons captured the CIF North Coast Section Division I championship, but this Oklahoma-commit impressed all season long and was named as our State Freshman of the Year. Finishing with a 0.84 ERA she struck out 293 batters. Putting a freshman this high on the all-state team selections can be questioned, but once it was decided that Amador Valley’s Danielle Williams was going to be first team then it became necessary to elevate May that high as well.

Taliyah Miles (Sheldon, Sacramento) Sr.
Leading the way in the circle with a 21-1 record and a 1.33 ERA the Huskies captured the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. Over 147 innings she struck out 174 batters to top her junior season that saw her go 23-2 with a 1.78 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 149.1 innings pitched. She also had her best season at the plate as she hit .422 with 25 runs batted in, nine doubles and four home runs. Next season she will be playing at Delaware State.

Danielle Williams (Amador Valley, Pleasanton) Jr.
A two-way threat who was named the East Bay Athletic League MVP, Williams benefits for these honors due to her appearances before many top scribes and coaches in Southern California. The evaluations are all the same: she’s one of the best pitchers they’ve all seen. For the season, Williams hit .382 with 17 runs batted in and three home runs but it was in the circle where she made the biggest impact as she went 17-1 with a 0.34 ERA. Allowing just six earned runs all season, she struck out 231 batters in 122 innings and had four no-hitters for the Dons. Still with one more season of high school, she also is now 55-6 in her high school career.

INFIELD

Alexis Allen (Oak Hills, Hesperia) Sr.
Last year’s Victor Valley Daily Press Softball Player of the Year and a member of the USA Softball Junior National Team, Allen hit .644 with 35 runs batted in and 11 home runs for the Bulldogs this season. Despite her family ties to UCLA, she is headed to play in college at Michigan as she committed to the Wolverines before she even started high school. Her grandmother, Sheila Cornell-Douty, was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and UCLA alum.

The team success wasn’t the same this year for Mission Viejo’s Camryn Ybarra, but she was hitting lasers and bombs all season. Photo: Patrick Takkinen/SoCalSidelines.com.


Neli Casares-Maher
(Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.

Trinity League co-MVP, OC Register All-County First Team and now our All-State First Team honor wraps it up for this senior who made an impact not just with her bat but with her smooth fielding glove for the Monarchs. On the year, she hit .460 with a team-best 27 runs batted in while hitting nine doubles, four triples and four home runs. A four-year varsity standout, Casares-Maher finished her high school career hitting .414 with 91 runs batted in and 42 extra-base hits. She will play next at Syracuse.

Maci Fines (Sheldon, Sacramento) Sr.
After sharing Sacramento Bee All-Metro Player of the Year honors with older sister Jordan (now at Cal) last season, Fines was the lone honoree this year. She also was Sheldon’s No. 1 all-state candidate after the team won its third straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title and finished 30-2 with a No. 4 final state ranking. For the season, Fines, who will play next at UC Santa Barbara, had a .496 batting average with 61 hits, 47 runs scored, 26 RBI, 11 doubles and 11 triples. She homered in the section title-clinching win vs. Tracy, which also ended up being the final hit of her prep career and No. 201 overall. That’s a school record and one of the top totals in section history.

Eliyah Flores (Grand Terrace) Sr.
Named by the San Bernardino Sun as its Player of the Year, this Oklahoma-bound standout hit over .450 for the fourth year in a row, ending at .494 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 31 runs batted in. During the playoffs, Flores hit .563 and ended the season on a 10-game hitting streak for a team that reached the CIF-SS Division I semifinals. This summer, Eliyah will be part of the Mexico Junior National Team and she already has played for the Mexico Senior National team where she hit a home run against Team USA.

Danielle Gibson (Murrieta Valley, Murrieta) Sr.
The Southwestern League of the CIFSS has been one of the best in the state in the last 20 years so Gibson being that league’s MVP carried a lot of weight toward her being first team all-state this season. Also chosen on the All-Inland Empire team by the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Gibson had a 25-game hitting streak to end the season and ended with a .530 batting average plus eight homers and 29 RBI. She will play next at Arizona State.

Briana Perez (Alhambra, Martinez) Sr.
A finalist for our Ms. Softball State Player of the Year honor, Perez hit .600 with six home runs and 39 runs batted in during her final season before heading to UCLA to join her older sister Kylee Perez. Making sure her name will go into the state record book in multiple categories, Briana finished her high school career hitting .571 with 31 home runs and 148 runs batted in. She was also named by the SF Chronicle as its Metro Softball Player of the Year.

Taylon Snow (Chino Hills) Sr.
While the Ball brothers era in basketball at Chino Hills is still continuing, the Snow sisters are done. Taylon is the final one of the three to graduate and leaves with 235 hits (one of the highest career totals in state history). While her freshman year of 72 hits and a .567 average was still her highest, Taylon batted .487 as a senior with five homers and 27 RBI. The Auburn recruit already has been named the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Player of the Year.

Camryn Ybarra (Mission Viejo) Sr.
Chosen by the Orange County Register as its Player of the Year, Camryn wrapped up her high school career batting lead off and hitting .500 for the Diablos while striking out just once all season. Last season, she was our State Junior of the Year and a finalist for Ms. Softball State Player of the Year while hitting .514 with 12 home runs and 30 runs batted in. During her four years with the Diablos, they went 105-12 and won two CIF championships. She will be headed to play next in the Pac-12 at Oregon State.

OUTFIELDERS

Lauren Lopez was the sparkplug at the top of the order for CCS Open Division champion Archbishop Mitty. Photo: SportStars Magazine.


Lauren Lopez
(Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Sr.

Helping the Monarchs capture the inaugural CIF CCS Open Division championship, this speedster hit .469 and scored 27 runs while going a perfect 28 for 28 on stolen base attempts. Leading the team with 45 hits, Lopez was not caught on a stolen base attempt for the second year in a row. She has been named by the All-Bay Area News Group as its South Bay/Peninsula Player of the Year and has been picked as the CCS Player of the Year by Prep2Prep.

Hannah McEwen (Patrick Henry, San Diego) Sr.
The Arkansas-bound McEwen wasn’t ahead of either Megan Faraimo or Hanah Bowen in our pecking order of San Diego Section nominees, but gets onto the first team nonetheless. She was the East County Sports Player of the Year and batted .521 with 22 stolen bases. McEwen also wasn’t far off of Livy Schiele for career hits with 187 and also ranks among the all-time section leaders with 43 career doubles.

Livy Schiele (Bishop’s, La Jolla) Sr.
Already named as the State Small Schools Player of the Year, the Auburn-bound Schiele has been a terror in the CIF San Diego Section for the last four years. She set the section record with 203 career runs scored and that’s a mark that also will rank in the top five in state history. For the season, Schiele batted .533 with six homers and a career-high 34 RBI. Her batting average as a sophomore and junior was even higher at .621 and .611, respectively.

Alexa Schultz (Los Alamitos) Sr.
Okay, here’s the third one from Los Al. If you are counting, Norco has a player on second team and had a junior already named All-State Underclass. On a team filled with big-time Division I recruits, Schultz led the offense with a .438 batting average and eight home runs. Head coach Rob Weil told the Orange County Register that it was her bat that carried the team for a stretch in the middle of the season. Schultz was named to the Register’s 2017 All-County Softball First Team. Like several others, she will be headed next to Oklahoma.

MULTI-PURPOSE
(Hitting/Pitching)

Hanah Bowen (Ramona) Sr.
Setting a team record with 24 wins in a season as a pitcher and also hitting .489 at the plate, Bowen was named as the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year as the Bulldogs finished as runner-up to Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division. Going 24-1 on the season in the circle, Bowen also hit .489 with 15 doubles, three home runs and 33 runs batted in. A first-team Valley League selection for all four years of high school, she was also named as the league’s pitcher of the year. Back in November, she signed a letter of intent with Arizona.

Mikayla Coelho will play next at Cal after helping push the program at Tracy to heights it has never been before. Photo: TracyHighScholarAndAthlete.com.


Mikayla Coelho (Tracy) Sr.
The Cal-bound Coelho did a little bit of pitching so we’ll put her on the all-state first team in the multi-purpose category. She led the Bulldogs to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 title game series with a robust .558 batting average. She also had 53 hits, 21 doubles, three homers and 35 RBI. As a pitcher, she went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA. Coelho was the Stockton Record Player of the Year and may have set an SJS record with 56 career doubles. We know it will be at least top 10 on the all-time state list, but we’ll need to do some work to figure out exactly where it ranks and whether it’s a section record.

McKenna Gregory (Benicia) Sr.
In the circle and at the plate, Gregory did it all for the Panthers during their CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship season as she was also named by the Times-Herald as its Female Athlete of the Year. In the circle, she was 19-2 with a 1.14 ERA while striking out 204 batters in 134.2 innings pitched. At the plate, she hit .463 with nine home runs and 32 runs batted in. In finishing up Benicia’s 29-2-1 season, Gregory launched two homers in her final game, one that bounced onto a nearby street. She will be headed to play in college at Michigan State.

Gianna Mancha (Central, Fresno) Sr.
No, her team did not win the CIF Central Section Division I title, but Mancha gets the nod to be on our first team all-state for her career and for being a standout as both a pitcher and hitter. Mancha did get two wins on the season against D1 section champ Clovis (compared to the one loss in the final) and made headlines with a 21-strikeout performance in a seven-inning game. For the season, the Boise State-bound Mancha ended 17-4 with a 0.73 ERA and also batted .478 with 22 RBI.

Jessica Seely (Foothill, Palo Cedro) Sr.
An ace in the circle and the Cougars’ lead off hitter, she was named by the CIF Northern Section as the MVP for the second straight season after the Cougars captured their second straight section championship. During her senior season, Seely was 24-2 with a 0.36 ERA and 289 strikeouts and she pitched three no-hitters and one perfect game. Often providing herself with more than enough offense, she led the team in hitting with a .545 average while hitting 14 home runs and driving in 54 runs. Up next for Seely will be a softball scholarship at Sacramento State.

Brooke Yanez (Buena, Ventura) Sr.
One of five finalists for our Ms. Softball Player of the Year, her selection to the All-State First Team was a given and it’s here in the multi-purpose category where it makes the most sense. Yanez was not only was unbeatable in the circle but was hard to get out at the plate. Going a perfect 19-0 with a 0.58 ERA, she pitched a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts in the final game of the season for the CIFSS Division IV championship. She also hit .397 with 11 home runs and 33 runs batted in on the year. She will play next at UC Davis.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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4 Comments

  1. Rich
    Posted July 13, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Great honor for all the girls. My ? Is why was Maci Fines Picked as an outfielder when she was a shortstop. I believe she made all state last year at 2nd base when Shortstop sister Jordan (CAL) was a finalist for player of the year

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted July 13, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Don’t know why it had a “y” at end of her name, either. Guess getting loopy after all these teams in all these different sports. Just had it in notes as an OF from somewhere. Easy fix for both. Thanks.

  2. Brooke Yanez
    Posted July 14, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    What a great honor to be selected among all of these great athletes. I wish all of them much success in college and those who still have some years left in HS. Good luck to all of you!

    Thank you Cal-Hi Sports for all the continued support to this amazing sport and for recognizing Buena HS out here in Ventura. It means alot!

    Brooke Y

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Brooke. It is a lot easier to pick players from a team that didn’t lose a game. Congrats to you and the Bulldogs for amazing season. You may not remember all of the details forever but you will remember the bonds formed with your teammates and friends.

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