In another of the closest selections ever, the Norco High catcher edges out two others to collect the state’s longest-running individual softball honor. She is the fourth from Norco to be Ms. Softball this decade and is only the second catcher now on the all-time list. In the end, despite the accomplishments of the five other finalists, it was just too hard for Hansen to be dislodged from the top after she was state freshman, state sophomore and state junior of the year.
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It’s not as if Kinzie Hansen of the Norco High softball team was preordained to be the 2019 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State Player of the Year, but it did prove to be too difficult for anyone else to win the honor after she was selected State Junior of the Year in 2018, State Sophomore of the Year in 2017 and State Freshman of the Year in 2016.
Hansen is indeed the 2019 Ms. Softball for the state and joins a long list of previous winners that includes three others from Norco in just the last eight years. Hansen was especially proud to be joining her former teammate, Taylor Dockins, who was Ms. Softball just two years ago despite battling the effects of cancer treatments.
“She deserves everything that she has gotten, all the honors and awards, and has been an incredible teammate,” Hansen said of Dockins (now at Cal State Fullerton). “To share this feat with her is very cool. It’s a great honor.”
The other two from Norco who have been honorees are Kylie Reed for 2013 and Emily Lockman of 2012. Other previous Ms. Softball winners have included Keilani Ricketts of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) for 2009, Jordan Taylor of Valencia for 2007 and Lisa Fernandez from St. Joseph of Lakewood for 1989.
“After every year since I started, and especially after Taylor won, I thought that I really wanted to continue the (Norco Ms. Softball) tradition,” said Hansen, who will play next at Oklahoma. “I said that was my goal for this year as a senior. I’m happy, but it was easy playing with these girls. They made it fun.”
Career stats have been a factor in every Ms. Softball player of the year selection ever made and Hansen’s at Norco have been extremely consistent even though the team annually plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Hansen started out as a freshman batting .426 with seven homers and 37 RBI. She followed that with .456 to go with three homers and 43 RBI as a sophomore and then last year she batted .519 with four homers and 32 RBI (missing six games with injury). This season, Hansen went for a .467 average with five homers and 36 RBI. Her 172 career hits are good enough for third in school history and to gain entry into the state record book. Her 148 career RBI also tied a school record with teammate Paige Smith even though Smith generally batted right her in the batting order.
Looking at Hansen’s stats a little more closely also reveals how she did against the best competition that Norco faced. Hansen batted .527 with five home runs and 27 RBI in the team’s tournament (including the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions and Michelle Carew Classic) and playoff games. Plus, she hit .556 with 15 RBI in the 12 games against teams that finished in the Top 20 of CalHiSports.com’s final state rankings.
“Last year, I had the highest average of my four years, but a lot of my hits were in the 5-6 hole,” Hansen said. “This year, I was trying to make better contact. Even some of the outs I was making came after making good contact. When players make defensive plays, you can’t do anything about that.”
It takes much more than offensive numbers, though, to be Ms. Softball. Hansen has been one of the most highly rated catching prospects for college that the state has seen in the last 10 years. And it’s her leadership and what she did behind the plate that probably impressed Norco head coach Rick Robinson the most.
“To see how she grew as a player from her freshman to senior year was just amazing,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t just being a leader, but being able to run things through her. We changed our entire sign system in between the third and fourth innings in our CIF (Southern Section) championship game. I don’t know of any player I’ve come across who could do that like her. She was like having a coach on the field.”
In the final three years of Hansen’s career, she helped the Cougars go 33-1 (lost in CIFSS D1 final to Los Alamitos), 28-3 (won CIFSS D1 title) and 32-1 (CIFSS D1 title). They finished No. 2, No. 2 and No. 1 in the final State Top 40.
When Dockins was selected Ms. Softball two years ago, the deliberation process took about two seconds. This year, it was much different and one of the main reasons for that was the big-time pitching of Hansen’s teammate at Norco, junior Sarah Willis. Robinson was not asked for his opinion on the topic because we’ve learned it’s unfair to put a coach into that position. In fact, when talking to him about Hansen for Ms. Softball, he spent more time making a final pitch for Willis to be State Junior of the Year.
“Sarah is one of the greatest players I’ve been around,” Hansen said. “Me and her have just clicked. If you would have picked her, I would not have been disappointed. She’s an amazing athlete.”
Hansen and Willis were not the only players battling at the top of the Ms. Softball pecking order. There also was junior Nicole May from Foothill of Pleasanton. She led that team to a 28-0 record with impressive hitting and pitching numbers and already has been the Gatorade State Player of the Year. Believe it or not, but a three-way tie would not have been that crazy, except that in the history of Cal-Hi Sports (40 years) there has never been a tie for a team ranking or player honor.
The other three finalists for Ms. Softball for this year as announced two weeks ago were Maya Brady of Westlake Village Oaks Christian (a teammate of Hansen’s on the OC Batbusters travel team), Lexi Sosa of Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic and Lexi Webb of Oakdale.
May also plays for the OC Batbusters despite being from Northern California and will be a teammate of Hansen’s at Oklahoma, which just lost to UCLA in the NCAA College Softball World Series final.
“UCLA and Oklahoma have such huge fan bases and right now a lot of us players just get big ol’ laugh when they’re playing each other,” Hansen said. “But I love the pressure and love it when a lot of people are watching. I’m really excited to see what kind of woman I turn into in college and what kind of player I become. My goal is to keep excelling as a freshman (at OU) next season.”
“From the day (Kinzie) walked on our campus, she’s been one of the top 10 recruits in the country,” Robinson said. “But she’s never been satisfied. She’s always asking, ‘How can I get better from something?'”
ALL-TIME LIST CAL-HI SPORTS
MS. SOFTBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR
2019 – Kinzie Hansen, Norco C
2018 – Payton Tidd, San Marcos P-OF
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