If you weren’t paying attention when our Ms. Softball finalists were named, only one of the five was a junior so you should have correctly assumed that the State Junior Player of the Year was automatically going to be Norco’s Kinzie Hansen. Joining her and Ms. Softball POY Payton Tidd of San Marcos as statewide honorees are Sarah Willis of Norco (sophomores), Cydney Sanders of San Marcos (freshmen), Mailee Newman from West of Torrance (medium schools) and Lindsey Walljasper from Sierra of Manteca (small schools).
For more on Ms. Softball State Player of the Year Payton Tidd, 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 Player of the Year.
Kinzie Hansen (Norco)
Yes, this one has to be for Hansen after she was the only junior among five finalists for the Ms. Softball State POY honor. Kinzie also is stepping up for the juniors after she was State Freshman of the Year and then State Sophomore of the Year. As it’s been proven several times in recent years, however, for various reasons (mainly results on the field), the Junior of the Year from the previous season hasn’t followed up to be Ms. Softball as a senior.
Hansen missed six games this season with an injury but still had a fabulous season with a team-leading .571 batting average. She also had 44 hits and 35 RBI for the CIF Southern Section Division I champions and got at least one hit in 23 of the 25 games she played. With all of the many times opposing teams pitched around her, Hansen had an on-base percentage well above .700.
As a college prospect, even though she is not a pitcher, Hansen has been at the top or near the top of numerous national lists. She committed to national powerhouse Oklahoma early on and has continued to call herself a future Sooner.
Surprisingly, Hansen is the first Norco player to be named as State Junior of the Year. The last three from the Inland Empire have been Melissa Taukieaho of Etiwanda (2011), Taylor Edwards of Vista Murrieta (2009) and Keira Goerl of Moreno Valley View (1999).
Last 10 State Juniors of the Year: 2017 – Megan Faraimo (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2016 – Camryn Ybarra (Mission Viejo); 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).
Sarah Willis (Norco)
No, that’s not a typo. The Norco program, which produced a 33-1 team in 2017 and a 28-3 squad in 2018 that won the CIFSS D1 title and ended No. 2 in the final FloSports FAB 50 national rankings, does indeed have both the State Junior of the Year and the State Sophomore of the Year.
Willis was this year’s team’s other ringleader along with Kinzie Hansen. She also follows Hansen as the State Sophomore of the Year. Taking over for graduated standout and 2017 Ms. Softball Taylor Dockins, Willis transferred in to head coach Rick Robinson’s squad from Ayala of Chino Hills and came through with flying colors. Willis finished 25-3 in the circle with a 1.26 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 172 innings. As Robinson pointed out, 10 of Sarah’s win came against teams that were in the final, expanded State Top 50 rankings. Like Dockins, Willis also hit for the Cougars. She was among the team leaders with a .436 batting average and had six homers with 21 RBI.
The University of Washington commit had to be spectacular to beat out 2017 State Freshman of the Year Nicole May of Pleasanton Foothill. May led Foothill to the CIF North Coast Section D1 title last year, but pitched and lost in the section final this season to Amador Valley of Pleasanton. May, committed to Oklahoma, went 20-2 this season with a 0.65 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 128 innings. Plus, May batted .404 with four homers. She didn’t pitch in two games that Foothill lost due to a tender arm, but to beat out Willis this year probably needed to have won that last outing.
Last 10 State Sophomores of the Year: 2017 – Kinzie Hansen (Norco); 2016 – Vanessa Strong (Oakley Freedom); 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).
Cydney Sanders (San Marcos)
Spreading around these player of the year honors is preferred, but here’s another one for San Marcos to go along with Ms. Softball POY Payton Tidd, which also ties Norco’s total of two. Sanders is an Arizona State commit and her addition to the lineup this year made the Knights almost legendary for their ability to hit home runs.
Sanders had the big hit in the team’s 4-0 win against Cathedral Catholic in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division final with a three-run homer on a 3-2 pitch in the third inning that pushed the lead from 1-0 to 4-0.
For the season, Sanders led the Knights and was among the reported state leaders with 14 home runs. She also batted .516 with 47 hits, 12 doubles and 36 RBI. She belted two homers in a game three times and in the section playoffs she had four round-trippers.
The last State Freshman of the Year from the San Diego area was Kelly Howard from Monte Vista of Spring Valley in 1989.
Last 10 State Freshmen of the Year: 2017 – Nicole May (Pleasanton Foothill); 2016 – Kinzie Hansen (Norco); 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).
Mailee Newman (West, Torrance)
This senior headed to Idaho State forced her way to be the POY for this group of eligible players (which are from many D2 and all D3 teams from our divisional state rankings) by leading the Warriors to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship.
Newman, who already has been chosen as the South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year, led West with a .457 batting average and was second on the team with 34 RBI. She also had three homers. In the circle, Newman was rock-solid as well. She had a 26-3 record with a 1.44 ERA. The Warriors ended 30-3 after winning their title, they were No. 1 in the final D3 state rankings and were No. 18 in the final, expanded State Top 40.
The only other player from the South Bay to ever be the Medium Schools State Player of the Year was Jenna Rich of El Segundo in 2009. It’s also the second straight year that a girl who led a team to the CIFSS D3 crown has earned this honor.
Last 10 Medium Schools State Players of the Year: 2017 – Brooke Yanez (Ventura Buena); 2016 – Nicole Bates (Ceres); 2015 – Rachel Garcia (Palmdale Highland); 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).
Lindsey Walljasper (Sierra, Manteca)
Coming from the same league as several schools that are considered medium schools for these honors (like Oakdale), Walljasper’s school is in a different playoff division than the others in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and it’s a playoff division that we consider small schools.
She’s a legit state player of the year regardless. Walljasper, the younger sister of recent all-state pitcher Allie Walljasper (now at LSU), led Sierra to the SJS D4 title and its third section crown in her four years at the school. The Timberwolves (19-4) also were No. 2 in the final D4 state rankings behind only Sutter (27-1). Lindsey went 17-2 as a pitcher with 100 strikeouts and a 0.19 ERA. Opposing batters only had a .145 average against her. At the plate, Walljasper was equally strong with a .456 batting average plus seven homers and 23 RBI.
The last Small Schools State Player of the Year from the SJS was Juliana Santos from Orestimba of Newman in 2008. There have been a few others, including Kaila Shull from Jim Elliot Christian of Lodi in 2006 and Katie Cotta of Linden in 2005.
Just like her sister before her, Lindsey is bound for a major college as well, but her future won’t be in the Bayou but at completely different University of Nebraska.
Last 10 Small Schools State Players of the Year: 2017 – Livy Schiele (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2016 – Kailia Searcy (Lancaster Paraclete); 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).