In addition to Nicole Bates, statewide honors also are going out to Camryn Ybarra of Mission Viejo (juniors), Vanessa Strong from Freedom of Oakley (sophs), Kinzie Hansen of Norco (frosh), Madilyn Nickles of Merced (large schools) and Kailia Searcy from Paraclete of Lancaster (small schools).
For more on Ms. Softball State Player of the Year Nicole Bates, CLICK HERE.
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Congratulations to the following five players also who also have been selected this week as Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year.
Camryn Ybarra (Mission Viejo)
One of our finalists for Ms. Softball State Player of the Year, Ybarra missed out on that honor but adds to her lengthly list of honors from this season as our State Junior of the Year.
Committed to Oregon State, she hit .514 with 12 home runs and 30 runs batted in as the Diablos won their seventh straight South Coast League championship on their way to a CIF Southern Section Division II championship.
Named as the South Coast League MVP she was also named by OCSidelines and OCRegister as its player of the year. The daughter of Mission Viejo co-head coach Troy Ybarra will be one of the favorites to be Ms. Softball State Player of the Year next season and if she wins the honor it would be the second time in three years that a player from Mission Viejo took home the honor. Taylor McQuillin took home that honor in 2015. McQuillin also was State Junior of the Year in 2014.
Last 10 State Juniors of the Year: 2015 – Mia Camuso (Redding Shasta); 2014 – Taylor McQuillin (Mission Viejo); 2013 – Johanna Grauer (Pleasanton Amador Valley); 2012 – Gabrielle Maurice (Modesto Beyer); 2011 – Melissa Taukieaho (Etiwanda); 2010 – Lauren Chamberlain (Lake Forest El Toro); 2009 – Taylor Edwards (Murrieta Vista Murrieta); 2008 – Jolene Henderson (Sacramento Sheldon); 2007 – Perelini Koria (San Pedro); 2006 – Jordan Taylor (Valencia).
Vanessa Strong (Freedom, Oakley)
This honor came down to choosing between Strong and last year’s State Freshman of the Year Danielle Williams from Amador Valley of Pleasanton.
While Williams still drew raves (some in Southern California say she was the best pitcher they saw all season) and while her numbers were a little better overall than Strong, it was Strong who won the game that gave her the advantage in the CIF North Coast Section Division I semifinals.
With the two leading candidates facing off, Strong’s Falcons got the win over the defending section champions. She allowed just one hit in the circle.
Also named by the East Bay Times as its softball player of the year over Williams as well as Martinez Alhambra’s Karlee Sparacino, Strong hit .413 with 13 runs batted in while going 17-3 with a 1.71 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 127 innings. She also threw two no-hitters.
Last 10 State Sophomores of the Year: 2015 – Holly Azevedo (San Jose Pioneer); 2014 – Katie Kibby (Vacaville); 2013 – Alyssa Palomino (Mission Viejo); 2012 – Johanna Grauer (Pleasanton Amador Valley); 2011 – Gabrielle Maurice (Modesto Beyer); 2010 – Nancy Bowling (Simi Valley Royal); 2009 – Ally Carda (Elk Grove Pleasant Grove); 2008 – Madison Shipman (Valencia); 2007 – Jolene Henderson (Sacramento Sheldon); 2006 – Taylor Petty (San Pedro); 2005 – Donna Kerr (San Diego Patrick Henry).
Kinzie Hanson (Norco)
Before she even took her first at bat in high school, this highly regarded freshman had committed to Oklahoma and she did not disappoint in her first season with the Cougars.
Eventually moved up to the lead off spot in the order, Hanson hit .426 with seven home runs, a team-best 37 runs batted in, 18 walks and a .525 on-base percentage. Named to the Big VIII League first team, she was also the lone underclassman to be named to the Riverside Press-Enterprise All-Inland first team.
Hanson is only the third Inland Empire player to be named State Freshman of the Year. The only other two – Tatum Edwards of Vista Murrieta and Kamerin May of Corona Santiago – were selected in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007.
Last 10 State Freshmen of the Year: 2015 – Danielle Williams (Pleasanton Amador Valley); 2014 – Taylon Snow (Chino Hills); 2013 – Zoe Marrott (Moraga Campolindo); 2012 – Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark); 2011 – Tera Blanco (Huntington Beach Marina); 2010 – Ali Aguilar (Orangevale Casa Roble); 2009 – Nancy Bowling (Simi Valley Royal); 2008 – Dani Gilmore (Woodland Hills El Camino Real); 2007 – Tatum Edwards (Murrieta Vista Murrieta); 2006 – Kamerin May (Corona Santiago).
Madilyn Nickles (Merced)
With our Ms. Softball State Player of the Year being from a medium school (Ceres), it became necessary to choose a large school player of the year and for that we went with Nickles, who basically was considered runner-up. This pick also could have gone to Etiwanda’s Vanessa Taukeiaho or Mission Viejo’s Camryn Ybarra, but Ybarra was chosen as the State Junior of the Year.
Nickles pitched at a high level and hit .552 with eight homers and 27 RBI for a Merced team that made it to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals. The only junior in the nation on last summer’s USA Junior National Team, Nickles also impressed as much with how she carried herself off the field as on it. That was another reason why she was this year’s Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Career totals for the future UCLA Bruin, who actually played the last 10 games of the season with fractured rib (according to her parents), showed her with a .487 average with 169 hites, 134 RBI, 56 doubles, 25 homers and 121 runs scored. She also won 67 games in the cirlce with a 1.05 ERA and had 809 strikeouts with 11 no-hitters and one perfect game.
The last medium schools player of the year who also was state player of the year was Anjelica Selden of Vanden (Fairfield) in 2004.
Last 10 Medium Schools State Players of the Year: 2014 – Kylee Perez (Martinez Alhambra); 2013 – Rachel Garcia (Palmdale Highland); 2012 – Nisa Ontiveros (Bakersfield Ridgeview); 2011 – Cheyenne Cordes (Fairfield Rodriguez); 2010 – Courtney Ceo (Lake of the Pines Bear River); 2009 – Jenna Rich (El Segundo); 2008 – Erin Arevalo (Manteca East Union); 2007 – Samantha Beasley (Spring Valley Steele Canyon); 2006 – Marissa Drewrey (Oakdale); 2005 – Kim Reeder (Salinas Notre Dame).
Kailia Searcy (Paraclete, Lancaster)
This honor just as easily could have gone to Paraclete’s other top player, Taylor Roberts, who hit the game-winning homer when the Spirits topped Savanna of Anaheim to complete a 28-0 season and win their second straight CIFSS Division VI title. Roberts also has already been named as the CIFSS Division VI Player of the Year.
Searcy, however, is the one from Paraclete last year who just missed being Small Schools State Player of the Year and has had such an outstanding overall career that we felt she deserved to be the small schools’ pick this season. We don’t have co-players so Roberts’ CIFSS honor can be hers. Unlike last season, Roberts did pitch a lot more innings than Searcy and put up great totals.
Searcy’s batting – and slugging in particular – is what gets her this honor. She had 11 homers and 53 RBI to go with a .625 batting average, highest on the team in all categories, and her 58 career homers rank No. 2 on the all-time state list behind Tannon Snow of Chino Hills, who set the record total of 60 just last season.
Headed to Central Arkansas, Searcy had to battle back from overuse injuries at the start of the season. She didn’t get back to pitching until the middle of April and then began splitting time in the circle with Roberts. She is the first-ever small schools State POY since the honor was established in 1988.
Last 10 Small Schools State Players of the Year: 2015 – Zoe Casas (San Bernardino Aquinas); 2014 – Grayce Majam (Pine Valley Mountain Empire); 2013 – Zoe Casas (San Bernardino Aquinas); 2012 – Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson); 2011 – Elizabeth Caporuscio (Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World); 2010 – Sammy Albanese (Palo Alto Castilleja); 2009 – Jessica Moore (Sutter); 2008 – Juliana Santos (Newman Orestimba); 2007 – Brittany Rumfelt (Lakeport Clear Lake); 2006 – Kaila Shull (Lodi Elliot Christian); 2005 – Katie Cotta (Linden).
Stockton office assistant editor 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