Despite a loss in the last game, there really isn’t any other way to go for this year’s winner for the state’s longest-running and perhaps most prestigious individual softball honor. Norco’s Taylor Dockins just has to be the one on so many levels, from how she’s handled all of the attention she got this season plus for all she did both as a pitcher and hitter for team that went 33-1.
For a rundown of the other Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year for softball, CLICK HERE.
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When a player is from a school that has had two previous Ms. Softball State Players of the Year in the last five years and has numbers frankly that are even better than them, that just makes it even harder to get cute and not choose that player to be the next one.
That’s just one of the reasons why today that Norco High’s Taylor Dockins has been named as the 2017 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports. Dockins suffered a loss in her final game, by a 3-1 score to Los Alamitos in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship, but that just prevented Norco from finishing 34-0 and being No. 1 in final state and national rankings. It clearly wasn’t enough to prevent her from being the Gatorade National Player of the Year and it isn’t close to being enough to prevent her from being State Player of the Year.
“It was just one of those games and we knew going in that it was going to be one of those 50-50 games,” said Norco head coach Rick Robinson. “We had won a lot of those games earlier to get to 33-0. It was just unfortunate in that instance that it was the last game.
“But she had such an incredible year. It’s a team award and she’ll be the first one to say that.”
Dockins also expressed thanks on Monday in a text after being informed she had won.
“I am so honored to be able to receive this award,” she said. “I’ve worked so hard for it and I will continue to work hard. This is truly an honor and something I will never forget. You don’t know how much this means to me.”
Norco’s two earlier Ms. Softball honorees have been Emily Lockman for 2012 and Kylie Reed for 2013. Reed was a leadoff hitting outfielder who collected bushels of hits and runs while Lockman was a bit more like Dockins in that she was a pitcher with some hitting.
“It is the same for all three that what led to them getting (Ms. Softball) is that their performances on the field were similar,” Robinson said. “They all took it to a higher level.”
Dockins did pitch for a CIFSS title team as a sophomore, but not as a senior, which is what Lockman did. Comparing the two, Dockins had more impressive hitting (.454 to .389) but Lockman had just as impressive pitching, including a 31-2 record with just 11 walks issued for the entire season.
There’s no way to quantify, however, how Dockins’ determination to get back onto the field after she had to undergo cancer surgery last summer to remove a portion of her liver fueled her teammates to such a great season.
“It was just amazing that she got back to what she was before,” Robinson said. “We had a plan if she couldn’t play and I’m real glad we didn’t get to use them.”
Before the loss to Los Al, a team the Cougars had beaten earlier in the season, Dockins led the team to tourney title triumphs at both the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz., and the Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim.
With her previous experience as a starting pitcher, it became obvious early in the season that she’d have a chance to break the CIFSS record for career pitching wins and move to No. 4 on the all-time state list. She did, finishing with 108 to top the previous section record of 103 set two years ago by Taylor McQuillin of Mission Viejo.
In addition to her pitching (33-1 record, 0.95 ERA), Dockins also was usually the No. 3 hitter in Norco’s batting lineup. She had two hits in the final game, which boosted her final average to .454 to go with 27 RBI.
Dockins will play next for Cal State Fullerton, which is not Nebraska like where Lockman went and it’s not Oklahoma, where sophomore teammate Kinzie Hansen has committed. That’s because like a quarterback in football who isn’t above 6-feet, she’s a softball pitcher who is basically 5-foot-5 and that’s a size that doesn’t usually work for many colleges. We have a feeling, though, that the size of the fight inside this girl’s heart is something that every undersized athlete in any sport would be very proud of.
Note: It was reported within the past several days on the Facebook page of Taylor’s father, Rick, that his daughter may need to have further cancer treatment. We didn’t want that to overshadow her Ms. Softball announcement but we also felt we needed to mention it.
ALL-TIME LIST CAL-HI SPORTS
MS. SOFTBALL STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2017 – Taylor Dockins, Norco P-DH
2016 – Nicole Bates, Ceres INF
2015 – Taylor McQuillin, Mission Viejo P
2014 – Johanna Grauer, Pleasanton Amador Valley
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, San Jose 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