Two of nine that have been chosen among the finalists for this year’s top individual award in California prep softball (an honor that goes back to the 1970s) are from the same team. Four of the nine were absolutely scintillating in last weekend’s CIF Southern Section Division I and Division II finals.
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Congratulations to these nine players, who have been chosen today as a finalist to be the 2014 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year. All are listed below in alphabetical order. The winner will be announced on either Sunday, June 15 or Monday, June 16.
Kaylee Carlson (Pacifica, Gardena)
Not only did she lead the Mariners to a CIF Southern Section Division I championship but she can say something that no one else can as she can say she got a win over the State Team of the Year when she pitched the complete game during a 2-1 win over Mission Viejo to end the regular season. Appearing in 29 games and starting in 22, she had 16 complete game shutouts with a 22-3 record. She also had a 0.55 ERA, earned two saves and struck out 220 batters in 164.2 innings. Headed to North Carolina, she dueled fellow finalist Alexis Osorio in the final game with 12 shutout innings in a 1-0 win against M.L. King of Riverside.
Julia DePonte (Vacaville)
Turning heads way back in her freshman year, DePonte hit .533 in 20 games. She finished an outstanding four-year varsity career by hitting .516 with 39 runs batted in for the Bulldogs during their CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship season. While scoring 33 runs, she had nine doubles, seven triples and seven home runs while stealing over 20 bases. Before she heads to play next season at Washington, she will spend the summer playing with fellow Ms. Softball State Player of the Year finalists Johanna Grauer and Kylee Perez on the Sorcerer’s 18U Gold team. With DePonte as the senior leader, Vacaville only lost one game all season.
Johanna Grauer (Amador Valley, Pleasanton)
Leading the way in the circle during the Dons’ undefeated season was this UCLA-bound standout. She went 27-0 with a 0.51 ERA. During her 191.1 innings in the circle, she also had 290 strikeouts with 24 complete games and 14 shutouts. Not only did teams hate to see her in the circle but also at the plate. She helped her own cause while batting .429 with 20 runs batted in. A Ms. Softball finalist for the second year in a row, she followed up her State Sophomore of the Year award from two years ago by going 22-2 last season with a 0.08 ERA before getting injured which was still good enough to earn our State Junior of the Year honor.
Jazmyn Jackson (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose)
Getting on base and scoring runs is what she did all season long for the Monarchs, who ended 30-1 and won the CIF Central Coast Section Division II title. Jackson led the Monarchs in multiple categories while hitting .538. During the year, she led the team with 49 hits, which included 14 doubles, seven triples and eight home runs while scoring 44 runs. Ever since her freshman year when she batted .485, Jackson has a big part of Mitty’s success. She finished her high school career with a .528 batting average along with 119 runs batted in and 160 runs scored. She will be headed to play at Cal next season.
Taylor McQuillin (Mission Viejo)
This talented junior wrote a blog for Student Sports last June about “Dealing with Losing”, http://www.studentsports.com/softball/2013/06/25/taylor-mcquillin-blog-dealing-losing/, but she didn’t have to worry about losing much this season and was an easy pick to have as one of our finalists. McQuillin dominated in the circle as the Diablos finished the season as our State Team of the Year and the top team in the nation by Student Sports. In the CIFSS Division II championship game, she struck out 17 during a 1-0 win in nine innings over Chino as the Diablos captured their first section title in program history. In the circle facing some of the top teams in the state and nation, McQuillin went 24-1 with a 0.72 ERA entering the final game of the season before picking up her 25th win of the year with the nine shutout innings. Not only did she blog all season long at StudentSports.com (our sister site) but she also has a terrific story as she had to overcome being completely blind in her left eye along with having partial hearing on the left side.
Alexis Osorio (M.L. King, Riverside)
Doing all she could to get the Wolves a CIF-SS Division I championship, she pitched 11 shutout innings before allowing a run in the 12th inning of a 1-0 loss against fellow finalist Kaylee Carlson and Pacifica of Garden Grove. Headed to Alabama, Osorio had 16 strikeouts in the championship game and had a no-hitter going into the 9th inning as she allowed just three hits and two walks in the marathon game. Earlier in the year, she was named the MVP of the Woodbridge Classic Tournament. She followed up a 2013 season that saw her strike out 230 while going 16-6 with a 1.40 ERA.
Alyssa Palomino (Mission Viejo)
While it may be true that Taylor McQuillin’s pitching was more essential to Mission Viejo’s success this season, Palomino continued to slug away for huge numbers at the plate. After she blasted 18 homers last year en route to being the State Sophomore of the Year, Palomino bashed 16 more this season. She also continued to improve in all facets of her game.
Kylee Perez (Alhambra, Martinez)
While her numbers aren’t clearly the best on the Bulldog roster for the 25-2 team that won the NCS D2 title, there is no question who was the leader of the team. Opponents also tended not to give her much to hit, either. The talented five-tool player, who is ranked No. 2 in the Student Sports Hot 100 of the nation’s top college prospects, hit .618 with 12 homers and 51 runs batted last season. This season, as teams pitched around her, she still hit .481 with 26 runs batted in and six home runs. Headed to UCLA next year, she also has a younger sister, freshman Briana, who hit .458 this season and drove in 27 runs.
Miranda Viramontes (Chino)
Not just dominating in the circle but a threat swinging the bat as well, Miranda helped lead the Cowgirls to the CIFSS Division II championship game where they lost 1-0 in extra innings to fellow finalist Taylor McQuillin of Mission Viejo. On the year, she lost just once in the circle, which came in the section finals. Viramontes, who led Chino to the CIFSS D2 titles as a sophomore and junior, won 23 games with a 0.28 ERA and 298 strikeouts in 174 innings. At the plate, the Utah-bound senior hit .415 with 10 home runs and 36 runs batted in.
Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports