In addition to Johanna Grauer, statewide honors also are going out to Taylor McQuillin of Mission Viejo (juniors), Katie Kibby of Vacaville (sophs), Taylon Snow of Chino Hills (frosh), Kylee Perez of Martinez Alhambra (medium schools) and Grayce Majam of Mountain Empire (small schools).
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For more on Johanna Grauer of Amador Valley being named Ms. Softball State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.
Congratulations to the following five players who have been selected this week as Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year.
State Junior Player of the Year
Taylor McQuillin (Mission Viejo)
In a close call between Taylor and slugging teammate Alyssa Palomino, last year’s sophomore of the year, we went this time for the left-handed pitcher who was recently named as the Gatorade State Player of the Year (an award we rarely agree with but the criteria for our honors and Gatorade’s are different).
Committed to Arizona, McQuillin went 25-1 with a 0.72 ERA as the Diablos captured the CIF Southern Section Division II championship. In 164 2/3 innings, she struck out 299 while throwing two perfect games and two other no-hitters this season.
McQuillin and Chino’s Miranda Viramontes, who also was a Ms. Softball finalist, engaged in a terrific pitching duel in the final. McQuillin pitched a one-hitter and had 17 strikeouts in nine innings in the 1-0 triumph. She also pitched a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts in a 6-0 win against Moorpark in the semifinals.
McQuillin’s accomplishments become more remarkable to consider because she’s had to overcome birth defects. The 4.2 GPA student is completely blind in her left eye and only has partial hearing on her left side.
The last State Junior of the Year from Orange County was Lauren Chamberlain of El Toro in 2010. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2000 for Courtney Fossatti from Foothill of Tustin and then to 1997 when Amanda Freed of Pacifica was both Ms. Softball and the junior of the year.
To read Taylor McQuillin’s blog on our sister site, StudentSports.com, CLICK HERE.
State Sophomore Player of the Year
Katie Kibby (Vacaville)
This was the hardest decision of the six player of the year evaluations this year in softball. There certainly are some higher-ranked individuals with commitments to big-time universities that we could have chosen, but frankly none of them were on championship teams. One of our favorite players in the class, for example, is Oregon-bound infielder Mia Camuso, but she played for a team that won just nine games.
The two sophomores that did the most for major division championship teams were Kibby as the pitcher for 29-1-1 Vacaville, the state’s No. 5 team, and Aniesa Maulupe, a power-hitter for CIF L.A. City champ Carson. In the end, since Kibby won all 29 games in the circle for the Bulldogs, including a shutout in the deciding game of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, she basically edged Maulupe, who hit two homers for the Colts in their title game.
Kibby, in fact, pitched all but six innings this season for Vacaville. She wound up 29-1 with a 0.67 ERA. Pitching 202 of 208 innings on the year, she had 28 complete games and struck out 233. It was the program’s fourth section championship and first since 2005. This followed up a solid freshman season that saw her named 1st team All-MEL Conference. Kibby has already committed to UC Davis and her 29 pitching wins already gets her into the state record book.
The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section actually has a strong tradition of sophomores getting this honor. Gabby Maurice from Johansen of Modesto won it just three years ago while in 2009 it went to Aly Carda from Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove. Two years before that in 2007 the honoree was Jolene Henderson from Sheldon of Sacramento.
State Freshman Player of the Year
Taylon Snow (Chino Hills)
Although Snow tied a CIF Southern Section record with 72 hits (set last year by Norco’s Kylie Reed) and batted .567 for a team that reached the CIFSS Division II semifinals and was in the top 10 of the State Top 20 for most of the season, this wasn’t as much of a slam dunk choice at first glance.
Also strongly considered was Karlee Sparacino, the top hitter for average at Alhambra of Martinez. The Oregon-bound Sparacino batted .608 for the Bulldogs.
Snow, who has committed to Washington as has her junior sister, Tannon, was the leadoff hitter for the Huskies who reached base 78 times in 34 tames.
According to head coach Mike Southworth, Snow had multi-hit games in the team’s last 16 games of the season, including all Sierra League contests and all four CIFSS playoff games. Snow also hit five homers with 24 RBI.
The only two previous state freshmen of the year from the Inland Valley/San Gabriel Valley area have been Jennifer Torrez of Pomona Catholic in 1992 and Monica Messmer from South Hills of West Covina in 1980.
State Medium Schools Player of the Year
Kylee Perez (Alhambra, Martinez)
One of nine finalists for our Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State player of the Year, Kylee didn’t get that one but she’s probably very happy that her Sorcerers Gold teammate Johanna Grauer did.
Perez, a four-year starter with a great glove and headed with Grauer to UCLA, was the senior leader for a young and talented Alhambra team that went 25-2 and won the CIF North Coast Section Division II title.
Ranked No. 2 in the Student Sports Hot 100 of the nation’s top college prospects, she hit .481 with 26 runs batted in and six home runs. For her career, Perez blasted 42 home runs and had 169 RBI. Once compiled, many of Kylee’s career totals will qualify for listings in the state record book.
While Alhambra is Division II for the state rankings, we do consider some DII teams like the Bulldogs who are in DIII leagues to be medium schools, which is why Kylee was eligible to win this honor. Last year’s winner, Rachel Garcia from Highland of Palmdale, was in a similar situation.
There have only been two previous winners as for medium schools from the East Bay – Megan Roark from College Park of Pleasant Hill in 2001 and Julie Marshall from Liberty of Brentwood in 1993.
State Small Schools Player of the Year
Grayce Majam (Mountain Empire, Pine Valley)
Ranked as one of the top 40 college prospects nationally by Student Sports, Majam had a fanstastic season for the Red Hawks and led the team to the CIF San Diego Section Division V title.
At the plate, Majam hit .725 with 11 homers and 35 RBI. In the circle, she went 13-1 with a 1.38 ERA and struck out 150 batters in 76.1 innings. Her reported career totals also included a .654 batting average in 74 games plus 34 homers and 108 RBI.
Sure, the level of competition, even for small schools, wasn’t strong, but Majam is headed for the SEC to play next at Ole Miss. She’s also keeping up a family tradition of playing at the next level. Three older sisters – Mari (Northwestern), Kelly (Hawaii) and Allison (Colorado State) – all played at the Division I level.
Ginger Bial, who played at Bishop’s of La Jolla in 1990, is the only other San Diego Section choice on the all-time list of small school state players of the year. Just two years ago, our choice in this category was Cheridan Hawkins of Anderson, who was the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year this season for Oregon.