Preseason Softball State Top 25

These players who are still at Norco playing softball show off the rings they received last fall for winning CIF Southern Section Division I title. If they get another one after this year, it could be a mythical national championship as well. Photo: @NorcoHSSoftball / Twitter.com.


The season has actually already begun for a few teams in the CIF Southern Section plus the L.A. City and Central Sections. For the state rankings, the No. 1 team to start shouldn’t be much of a surprise due to the returning players at defending CIFSS D1 champion Norco. There’s also the usual powerhouse squads in Orange County and we think there are three that may be way up there from Northern California’s West Catholic Athletic League.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. All future State Top 20 or State Top 25 softball team rankings packages this season, with our authentic breakdowns and analysis of the season as it is happening, will be for Gold Club members only. To become a member of our Gold Club so you can check out all of our softball content this season, including state record updates and state stat stars, CLICK HERE.

For Baseball Preseason State Top 25, CLICK HERE.

(Teams listed with win-loss record from last season)
(Based on published rosters from last season)
(Every name mentioned Googled to check for any transfer or injury updates, but some of those could be missed)

1. Norco 28-3
Head coach Rick Robinson’s big-time nationally-known program had to be behind CIF San Diego Section champ San Marcos in last year’s final state rankings for losing in a rematch game to that squad late in the season, but the manner in which the Cougars rolled to the CIF Southern Section Division I title was impressive nonetheless and they would have been tough to stop if we had CIF state softball championships. Norco has a great group of top players back from that unit, including catcher Kinzie Hansen, who has been the State Player of the Year for freshmen, sophomores and juniors and therefore is in line to be Ms. Softball at the end of this season. The Oklahoma-bound All-American batted .596 as a junior. Washington-bound Sarah Willis, still a junior, also returns. She was the team’s ace in the circle and hit for a .486 average with six homers. Infielder Paige Smith is another top honors candidate with her .470 batting mark plus five homers and 25 RBI from last season. Norco starts the season Friday in a scheduled contest vs. Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

Outfielder Ciara Briggs of Orange Lutheran is one of the top Class of 2019 players in the state. She has signed with LSU. Photo: WeAreOLu.org.


2. Lutheran (Orange) 26-5
We looked at it being a close call between the Lancers and Los Alamitos to be No. 2 in the state to start and No. 1 for Orange County, and went with the Lancers basically after seeing that they were No. 1 according to Orange County Register scribe Dan Albano. Head coach Steve Miklos was quoted as saying this could be the most talented team he’s had. The list includes all-state first team and All-American outfielder Ciara Briggs, who batted .490 last season with eight homers and 30 RBI. Infielder Mariah Rodriguez (.422, 37 RBI), catcher Jaeden Barajas (six homers) and infielder Victoria Fragoso (.316) plus an influx of top freshmen are other reasons for optimism. Both Taryn Lennon (junior) and Mia Bagatorian had double-digit win totals as pitchers, but to get over the top in the CIFSS may require one of them to emerge as more of a dominating ace.

3. Los Alamitos 24-3
The Griffins were State Team of the Year two seasons ago and “slipped” to 24-3 last season, including an early round upset loss in the CIFSS D1 playoffs to Pacifica (Garden Grove). They have an outstanding group coming back, one that could go all the way just like in 2017. The team’s top three honors winners from last season are all back: Pitcher Sarah Ladd only lost one game all season and is headed to Michigan State; sophomore catcher Sophia Nugent led the team with five homers and 31 RBI; and junior third baseman Ali Belarde was the leading hitter at .500. The team was scheduled to open the season Thursday vs. Cypress.

4. Foothill (Pleasanton) 24-4
At the end of last season, after the Falcons had fallen short in the CIF North Coast Section D1 final in a tough loss to league rival Amador Valley (Pleasanton), we thought they’d probably start out 2019 very high in the preseason state rankings and that is indeed what is happening. There were only four seniors on the roster and it will be the junior season for one of the top recruited players in the nation — pitcher/hitter Nicole May (committed to Oklahoma). May will be joined by Foothill’s next top two players from last season — junior catcher Courtney Beaudin and infielder Hope Alley (Pittsburgh). May and Beaudin constituted the battery as freshmen when Foothill won the 2017 NCS D1 title.

Kendall Mangel of Chino Hills was one of two freshmen who named first team all-state after last season. Photo: @mistimangel / SoCalSidelines.com.


5. Chino Hills 30-5
Reaching the CIFSS D1 semifinals with a roster of mostly star underclassmen has to make the Huskies one of the teams to beat in Southern California this season. Head coach Mike Southworth had one of the top freshmen in the nation in the circle as Kendall Mangel went 27-3 with a 1.25 ERA. The team’s other top player was junior infielder Brooke Johnson, who smacked 11 homers with a .425 average. Johnson will play next at DePaul. Among others returning are Mykenzie Hanna (.400, five HRs); sophomore Kayla Chavez (26 RBI); and junior Makena Brocki (.373, 26 runs scored).

6. Huntington Beach 21-8
There’s a lot to like about the Oilers, who have several elite returnees from a squad that got one win against Los Alamitos in the Sunset League and went extra innings with Norco in the CIFSS D1 playoffs. It begins with shortstop Jadelyn Allchin, headed to Washington with All-American credentials. She also had five homers and 39 RBI with a .406 average in 2018. Huntington Beach also has No. 1 pitcher Grace Uribe (Texas A&M commit). In her sophomore season, Uribe had a 1.53 ERA. Sophomore slugger Devyn Greer (six homers, .368) is another among those returning.

7. St. Francis (Mountain View) 23-6
The defending CIF Central Coast Section Open Division champions look loaded for 2019. It wouldn’t be a total shock, on the other hand, if they were only third in the West Catholic Athletic League since the top three teams in the WCAL should all be among the best in Northern California. St. Francis’ hopes begin with Boise State-bound pitcher Jordan Schuring. She went 23-5 as a junior with a 1.46 ERA and beat perennial CCS champ Archbishop Mitty three times, including the 5-1 win in the CCS Open final. Among others also back are infielder Hannah Damore (.370, 21 RBI) and junior outfielder Hailey Prahm (.378, three homers).

8. San Marcos 28-2
This was the 2018 State Team of the Year and also was No. 1 in the final FAB 50 national rankings we did for FloSports. Look for the national rankings we do this season on ExtraInningSoftball.com. San Marcos loses a lot off of its title team, led by Ms. Softball Payton Tidd (now at Notre Dame). While the pitching is a questionmark, there are some great players coming back. The list is led by State Freshman of the Year Cydney Sanders, who slammed 14 homers with a .516 batting average. Junior Maddie Helms (.423, six homers) should be another leading player all season for the Knights.

Cydney Sanders connects for her three-run homer for San Marcos during 2018 CIF San Diego Section Open Division final. Photo: SoCalSidelines.com.


9. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 26-4
Although Ms. Softball finalist and Gatorade National Player of the Year Megan Faraimo is now at UCLA and catcher Jacey Bourgeos has graduated as well, the rest of the roster is back for Dons’ head coach Margaret Mauro. The top returnee is outfielder Kaelene Walter (.353) along with infielder Sara Rusconi (.321). Outfielder Jayden Cunningham, a second team All-San Diego County selection last season, is another to watch.

10. Valley Christian (San Jose) 19-7
While St. Francis won the CCS Open title, it was the Warriors who won the West Catholic Athletic League crown and they have a ton of top players back as well. Four-year standout and Cal-bound all-state catcher Kacey Zobac leads the group. She ripped six homers and had a .612 batting average last season. Pitcher Kayla Dominguez (signed by Cal State Northridge) also is back with a 1.50 ERA. It also will be interesting to see how the two Thomas sisters, Korie and Aubrie, do in their senior and sophomore seasons, respectively. Korie plays infield and batted .435 while Aubrie can play multiple positions.

11. Pacifica (Garden Grove) 20-11
There were only four seniors on the Mariners’ roster last season and it was a group that was close to the top teams in the CIFSS in many games played against the best competition. Pacificia’s leading player should be shortstop Alyssa Brito, a junior who has committed to Oregon. Pitcher Julia Cabral also is back after battling it out in many of those close contests. Another leading hitter to watch is infielder Alani Nguyen.

12. Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 23-5-1
While league rival Foothill of Pleasanton is returning its ace and star player, the Dons (who won last year’s CIF North Coast Section D1 crown) will be learning to play without the graduated Danielle Williams. Still, Amador Valley has everyone else back except one other player and should continue to be one of the best squads in the Bay Area. The list of top returnees include junior infielder Valeria Torres-Colon, sophomore catcher Allyson Kim, infielder Chloe Engel and sophomore infielder Mia Hildebrand.

13. Gahr (Cerritos) 26-6
The Gladiators advanced to the CIFSS D1 championship last season where they lost to Norco, but they were near the top of the state rankings and were in the top 10 nationally. They ended at No. 5 in the state and had a win early in the season over Norco, but lost a lot of firepower to graduation, especially in the pitching department. Two top players who are back, who both hit homers in the CIFSS D1 semifinals vs. Chino Hills and who were both all-state underclass are senior outfielder Jazmin Hill and sophomore infielder Taylor Stephens.

14. Sheldon (Sacramento) 25-5
We could have gone in a couple of different directions for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, but the Huskies only lost two seniors from last year’s team that fell short of winning a fourth straight D1 section title due a loss in the deciding game to Tracy. One of those seniors was big-time first team all-state infielder Shea Moreno, but head coach Mary Jo Truesdale has two more all-state candidates in junior first base/outfielder Sam Oliver, who drove in 39 runs last season and batted .451, plus junior outfielder Kiannah Pierce, who had 57 hits (makes the state record book) with a .509 average. Sheldon’s top pitcher, Grace Owen, also returns as does junior infielder Shelbie Caro. Owen had a 1.45 ERA in 2018 while Caro had 30 RBI and hit .407.

15. Stockdale (Bakersfield) 26-4
With the top two teams from last season in the CIF Central Section, D1 champion Clovis and D1 runner-up Buchanan of Clovis, both hit hard with graduation losses, we decided to stick Stockdale just in front of Clovis to start the season. The Mustangs were not bitten by the graduation bug nearly as much and return several top players. Junior pitcher Sydney Hornbuckle leads the way as the Colorado State-commit is starting her third season as the ace. She went 17-4 last year with a 0.80 ERA and also hit .415 with three homers. Infielder Izzy Nieblas, who is going on a journey to the University of Maine, also is back after leading the team in RBI with 44 and hitting .495. Infielder Jayden Beam (.424, 25 RBI) and junior catcher/infielder Katelyn Hornbuckle should be two other Stockdale standouts.

Hannah Edwards played for the under 18 national team of Great Britain in September, helping squad to third-place showing in Super Six European Championships. Photo: daveneilfastpitch.com.


16. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 19-8
The third team from the WCAL and CCS that is loaded with key returnees is the Monarchs and while they didn’t win either title last season they’re the program with the most CCS titles and high final state rankings finishes. Mitty had one of the most exciting sophomores in the state in 2018 in outfielder Diamond Holland. She comes back as a junior after batting .507 and is the prototype leadoff hitter with speed. Pitcher Hannah Edwards also is back (2.72 ERA). She also hit .420 with four homers and 24 RBI and was breakout star over the summer for the British U18 national team.

17. Clovis 30-2
The Cougars were in the top 10 of the nation after last season’s senior-laden club won another CIF Central Section D1 title. All-American and Ms. Softball State Player of the Year finalist Danielle Lung is now at Fresno State, while several others such as Jordyn Martinez and Emily Puente also have moved on. Head coach Mike Noel is one of our all-time favorites, however, and should have the team primed to be near the top of the section once again. Two key players who are returning are pitcher/outfielder Allie Puente and catcher Kassie Puente.

18. Great Oak (Temecula) 22-6-1
Matalasi Faapito was the Co-Player of the Year in the Southwestern League last season, but it’s not just her 12 homers and 41 RBI at the plate that has us thinking the Wolfpack are going perhaps rank among the best in California this year. Faapito, who has signed with New Mexico State, also can pitch and will add a lot of depth with the team’s other top returning player, Paulina Johnson, who was another of the top pitchers in the Southwestern League in 2018. Two other top returnees for Great Oak are juniors Sara Kinch and Kayla Edwards, who have committed to Minnesota and Army, respectively.

19. Newbury Park 27-5
This team won the CIFSS D2 title last season and the girl who got it done down the stretch and in the circle, Cory Carrillo, is back for her senior season. Carrillo had a 14-2 record with a 1.12 ERA. The Panthers lose all-state catcher Serena Huchingson to Boise State, but there are some other top returnees, including Chase Knapp (.372, four homers, 24 RBI) and Sofia Morales (.475 with 35 runs scored). Newbury Park will be up in D1 this season, but still shouldn’t be counted out.

20. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 23-6
The Monarchs were right up near the top of the state last season but ended at No. 8. They lose a lot from their roster, led by UCLA’s Kelli Godin plus all-state catcher Donna Freedman and all of the pitching. One of the team’s leading players back, however, is speedy outfielder Nyomi Jones. The Ole Miss recruit was an all-state underclass pick with a .427 average plus 20 steals in 21 attempts. There’s usually other players also ready to step up within that elite level program.

Senior Mata Faapito is one of two pitchers who can be counted on in the biggest games for Great Oak of Temecula. Photo: southwesternleague.com.


21. Granite Hills (El Cajon) 24-9
If San Marcos and Cathedral Catholic hadn’t finished so high in the final state rankings last season (1st and 3rd) and Granite Hills wasn’t that high, this might be the preseason No. 1 for the San Diego area. The Eagles have that kind of returning strength. Leading the way is junior pitcher Staci Chambers. She was the ace pitcher last season at 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and she also belted eight homers with 27 RBI. Two other top juniors who should get a lot of attention are catcher Haley Johnson (.453, 24 RBI) and outfielder Bailey Wallace (.411, 39 RBI).

22. Yucaipa 25-7
Head coach Stephanie Landavazo has a team to watch that is moving up from Division 2 into Division 1 in the CIFSS. All-state and All-American candidate Sydnee Huff in the infield leads the way. The Stanford signer racked up 51 hits as a junior and batted .490. Junior Esperanza Coe also is returning after she won 20 games as a pitcher and was the leading slugger with nine homers and 43 RBI. The Thunderbirds, who are going for their eighth straight Citrus Belt League title, also have leading hitter Aneesa Arredondo back. She knocked in 28 runs and had a .506 batting average last season.

23. Benicia 28-3-1
The Panthers were the top-ranked overall team last season from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section despite being D3 and not D1, but they had enough wins over top teams regardless of division. It’s a guarantee that they won’t be ranked among the best in the SJS this year, but that’s because Benicia is no longer in that section and instead will be in the CIF North Coast Section. We don’t see the Panthers being up there with Foothill and Amador Valley in the NCS, but third makes sense and among the best of the rest. The pitching doesn’t seem obvious due to graduation losses, but the lineup has plenty of pop. Benicia’s best returnee is Hawaii-bound Amanda Ajari with her .540 average, eight homers and 47 RBI from 2018. Junior Bailey McLaughlin also hit well over .400 while senior Jen McCue was just below .400.

24. Camarillo 23-5
Ventura County’s preseason order got muddied up a bit with a reported score from early this week at Royal of Simi Valley had blanked Oaks Christian of Westlake Village. We don’t know any details, but it wasn’t a scrimmage so we decided just to put both teams on the bubble and wait to see more results. We put Newbury Park as a CIFSS D2 champion from last season in there and wound up putting in the CIFSS D2 champion from the year before as well. The Scorpions moved up to D1 last year and lost in the second-round, but it was only 4-3 in nine innings and the team they lost to, Los Altos (Hacienda Heights), wound up in the semifinals. Camarillo has a strong core of returnees, including junior pitcher Eryka Gonzales, who led the team to that title in 2017. Leading hitter Bianca Gutierrez, headed to Cal State Fullerton, also returns. She hit for a .505 average last season and had 27 RBI.

25. Tracy 25-5
Rachel Cid is gone and already has been named as a Pac-12 Freshman of the Week at Oregon, but the Bulldogs do have a lot of notable experienced players from their squad of a year ago that won the SJS D1 title and denied a four-peat for Sheldon. Pitcher Karina Faasisila still has one season to go before heading to San Diego State and comes back after going 21-2 with a 0.92 ERA in 2018. She also batted .417 with 28 RBI. Tracy’s second-leading hitter, Isabel Cargill, also returns after collecting 52 hits, including 21 doubles, and a .537 average. Emily Yanke (.379, Cal State East Bay) and junior Bella Pahulu (.335) are two other key position players returning.

Teams On The Bubble
Buchanan (Clovis) 26-5
Bullard (Fresno) 21-6
Chatsworth 22-5
Heritage (Brentwood) 17-4
Los Altos (Hacienda Heights) 28-3
Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 17-12
Murrieta Mesa (Murrieta) 22-8
Oakdale 23-3
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 28-4
Poly (Riverside) 19-9
Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 21-12
Rio Mesa (Oxnard) 24-7
Royal (Simi Valley) 21-7
Watsonville 23-4
West (Torrance) 30-3

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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