All-State Softball: First Team

Dakota Kennedy (left) from Sheldon of Sacramento has committed to Arizona. At right is strikeout phenom Emily Leavitt when she was pitching for Ayala (Chino Hills). The 2021 grad is now at the University of Minnesota. Photos: Sheldon softball & Twitter.com.


It’s much later than usual after a season that was much later than usual, but it’s now time to salute these 30 elite California players after not being able to do the same for 2020. This 38th edition had many challenges, mainly working on it after the football season had begun, but at least it’s out before the start of September. Ms. Softball State POY Jayla Castro of Rocklin headlines a group with several girls who were also very close to the top spot.

For the all-state second and third teams (Gold Club), CLICK HERE.

(Special thanks to Orange County correspondent Chuck Nan & Northern California correspondent Daniel Poulter for contributing writeups to this package.)

RELATED: All-State Underclass (Gold Club) | All-State Medium & Small Schools | Final 2020 State Team Rankings (Gold Club)

For Gold Club post of our all-time all-state softball archives, CLICK HERE.

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Our all-state softball patch for this year is now available at BillyTees.com. Patches are sent with each certificate.


Congratulations to these players who’ve been named first team overall for the 38th edition of the Cal-Hi Sports all-state softball honors program:

FIRST TEAM OVERALL CATCHERS

Jayla Castro (Rocklin) Sr.
It was razor close, but Castro gained our honor of Ms. Softball State Player of the Year last month. The Co-Player of the Year for the Sacramento Bee is a consensus top 15 prospect in the 2021 class and helped Rocklin finish as a top 15 team in the state. Castro was the leadoff hitter and catcher for the top team in the Sac-Joaquin Section and had a .500 average while knocking in 24 RBI on 30 hits. Not many fences were safe from Castro, as the UCLA Bruin smashed eight home runs in 20 games on the season. She was the first Ms. Softball Player of the Year for the Sacramento area since Andrea Vidlund won the award in 1999 from Casa Roble of Orangevale.

Olivia DiNardo (Aragon, San Mateo) Jr.
We couldn’t put both Aragon stars on first team so it was DiNardo with the nod. She proved one thing this year and that is she can flat-out hit a softball. The junior was one of the most feared hitters in the Central Coast Section this past season and put up a staggering .764 batting average over 16 games. The Arizona commit also had 29 RBI, crushed 12 doubles, scored 32 runs and had 42 hits on the year. DiNardo was also a menace on the base paths, as she swiped 13 stolen bases and tattooed a team high eight home runs. Aragon should once again have a quality side next season, with DiNardo and Grant (UCLA commit) leading the way for the Dons.

Oklahoma-committed catcher & power hitter Sophia Nugent of Los Alamitos rounds the bases playing for the Firecrackers/Rico/Weil travel ball squad. Photo: ExtraInningSoftball.com.


Sophia Nugent (Los Alamitos) Sr.
Everyone in softball knows about the amazing recovery of our friend Carlos Arias (ExtraInningSoftball.com) from a major stroke in May. He had been doing state player rankings for us and for the Class of 2021 the highest ranked player from the state has been Nugent. The Oklahoma commit wasn’t on a team at Los Al that was that high this year, but she herself was more than solid and collects this first team spot. She went 2-for-3 with an RBI in a win over Villa Park and homered in a win vs. Norco. Sophia also had seven homers on the season and a .375 career batting average in 76 games played against top CIFSS competition.

Sydney Stewart (St. Francis, Mtn. View) Jr.
When your teammate is the State Junior Player of the Year, it can be hard to shine as bright, but Stewart was neck and neck with Jessica Oakland for the Lancers. The University of Washington commit helped St. Francis blast through the Central Coast Section en route to an Open Division title and an undefeated 26-0 season. Stewart hit at a .559 clip for the year, while knocking in 44 RBI on 38 hits and blasting 12 home runs. Potentially most impressive of all for the junior was her discipline at the plate, as Stewart picked up a team high 21 walks on the year.

FIRST TEAM OVERALL PITCHERS

Giselle Garcia (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista) Sr.
She was at the heart of back-to-back CIF San Diego Section Open Division softball titles for the Crusaders, with the senior throwing her first no hitter of the season in the 10-0 mercy rule final over Rancho Buena Vista. Bound for Pace University in New York City, Garcia went 21-2 for the season, while punching out 239 batters in 165 innings and had a 0.89 ERA during that stretch. Garcia was one batter off finishing her high school career with a perfect game. She also was named the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year and was one of MD Catholic’s top hitters.

Emily Gomez (Esperanza, Anaheim) Sr.
As fellow all-state teammate Hannah Coor was to the Esperanza offense, Gomez was as valuable in the circle. She pitched the Aztecs to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship and helped eliminate top-seeded Norco, no easy task. One of her memorable outings came when she went 11 innings to earn the victory, scattering five hits and striking out eight against Murrieta Mesa. Across 116 innings pitched, Gomez amassed an 18-2 record, 105 strikeouts against just seven walks and a 1.63 ERA. She pitched a perfect game against Brea Olinda and retired all 15 batters she faced in a five inning, 11-0 victory that was shortened by the CIF mercy rule. She fanned six. Selected a Los Angeles Times 2021 All-Star, Emily also was All-CIFSS Division 1 First Team.

Sarah Haendiges (Upland) Sr.
After being named the All-CIF SS Division 2 softball “Player of the Year” over a group that included other first team all-state players from Villa Park, Camarillo and Westlake, Sarah became a State Player of the Year contender. Bound for Oregon State, she earned All-Baseline League honors twice. In 2021, she was 14-2 in the circle and led her team to the Division 2 crown. Haendiges out-dueled the much heralded Sydney Somerndike and Villa Park in the final.

Stevie Hansen was not always the No. 1 pitcher at Norco during her prep career, but the University of Oregon freshman has always been among the best pitchers in the state in her class. Photo: Steven Doi / Norco softball.


Stevie Hansen (Norco) Sr.
Ace pitcher Hansen entered the spring season with a spotless 24-0 career record for nationally-ranked Norco. Also going into 2021, Hansen had struck out 178 batters in 101 innings of work as Norco dominated the prep softball scene for several seasons. One of her season highlights was when she twirled a no-hitter against Murrieta Mesa. She finished her senior campaign with a 27-2 mark with her only blemishes coming to Los Alamitos and Esperanza. An easy selection as CIF SS Division 1 softball “Player of the Year,” Hansen had a 51-2 career record and is headed next to Oregon.

Emily Leavitt (Ayala, Chino Hills) Sr.
It wasn’t just one game that led to Leavitt grabbing this all-state first team slot, but striking out 31 batters in a 14-inning 2-0 win against Glendora sure helped. For the season, Leavitt was dominant in the circle with a 13-3 record, 0.72 ERA and 218 Ks in 126 innings. She also averaged more than one strikeout per inning over 407 for the last three seasons. Emily is now attending the University of Minnesota and will be playing in the Big 10 Conference in the spring.

Ryan Maddox (Clovis North, Fresno) Soph.
One of just two sophomores on the first team, Ryan has solidified herself as one of the top pitchers in not just the Central Section, but the whole state last season. The ace sophomore hurler put up eye popping stats over 20 games. Clovis North (Fresno) won its first softball D1 section title behind almost exclusively her arm. Maddox had the circle for all but 12 innings for the Broncos, with the pitcher sporting a 0.64 ERA over 131 ⅓ innings while punching out 192 batters on the year. Expect Clovis North to have a chance against anyone in the state for the next two years with Maddox flinging the ball.

Brook Thompson (Rocklin) Sr.
Making up the second part of perhaps best catcher/pitcher duo in the state was Thompson and the senior breezed through some tough competition this past season. Pitching in arguably one of the top leagues in Northern California, Thompson went 11-2 while striking out 135 batters in 89 ⅓ innings and had a sparkling 0.94 ERA. The Boise State bound hurler was a key reason that the Thunder became a Northern California power over the last couple of seasons. She and teammate Jayla Castro were the co-players of the year by the Sacramento Bee.

FIRST TEAM OVERALL INFIELD

Tianna Bell (Heritage, Brentwood) Jr.
The 2022 class in the Bay Area is littered with stars and Bell has etched her name on that list. The power hitting infielder was a driving force for a top 10 Heritage (Brentwood) side that went 23-0 this year. The Patriots were the top team in the CIF North Coast Section and Bell drove in a team high 45 RBI and crushed 10 home runs in just 20 games. The future University of California Golden Bear hit at a .581 clip, while also scoring 32 runs and picked up 36 hits. Bell and company will look to uproot St. Francis (Mountain View) next season for the title of best in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Jacquelyn Bickar (Pacifica, Garden Grove) Sr.
There was no bickering among anyone asked about Bickar. She had a dominant offensive season as her stats indicate. This talented middle infielder helped spur one of he best offenses in Orange County. The numbers included a .545 batting average, two home runs, 20 RBI, a .610 on-base percentage, .909 slugging average and 17 stolen bases. Bickar is committed to Long Beach State and was the Empire League “Most Valuable Player.” She was selected as the 2021 “Female Athlete of the Year” for the Empire League (all sports) as voted upon by the Orange County Athletic Directors Association. She went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and stole a base to upset then state No. 1 Los Alamitos, 3-2, early in the season.

Kayla Chavez (Chino Hills) Sr.
No, it wasn’t the season that the Huskies wanted as they were preseason No. 1 by MaxPreps in the nation and instead saw league rival Upland win the CIFSS D2 title. But they did split with Upland in two league games and got one of their top players on the all-state team. Chavez is making it primarily for the four-year career that she had on varsity. One of the higher ranked recruits in the state and now at Minnesota, Kayla had 23 career homers and a .409 career batting average. She hit .420 as a senior in 21 reported games with eight doubles. Chavez had a five-RBI game vs. Murrieta Valley and went 4-for-5 and 4-for-4 in her final two regular season outings.

Maddie Moore and team at Del Oro (Loomis) didn’t get to have section playoffs in 2021, but a lot of the Golden Eagles’ league games had a playoff atmosphere. Photo: goldcountrymedia.com.


McKenna Gibson (Saugus) Sr.
As a freshman, McKenna and teammate Gracie Keene both committed to Tennessee. Keene didn’t play this season (not on roster), but Gibson did and was sensational. In her 16 games for the Centurions, she batted .600 with six homers, 10 doubles and 21 RBI. Over one three-game stretch, McKenna recorded an 8-for-8 line with three homers and eight RBI. She was all-state underclass second team as a junior and moves up to the first team overall as a senior.

Maddie Moore (Del Oro, Loomis) Sr.
This prime-time recruit was a doubles machine this past season for the Golden Eagles of Loomis, as the senior picked up 12 on the year. The Clemson University signee had a .455 batting average in a Sierra Foothill League that sported some of the top pitchers in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Moore hit two home runs off one of the best in Rocklin’s Boise State-bound pitcher Brook Thompson, an effort that gave Thompson one of her only two defeats this past season.

Jessica Oakland (St. Francis, Mountain View) Jr.
Helping make up one half of the top junior power duo in the state, Oakland led St. Francis to an undefeated 26-0 record and solidified the Lancers as the top team in Northern California this season. The University of Minnesota commit was our State Junior Player of the Year and earned the honor by shredding Central Coast Section competition. Oakland had an average of .612 with 55 RBI and blasted a state-leading 19 home runs. The daughter of Lancers’ head coach Mike Oakland also picked up 50 runs and racked up 52 hits on the year. Oakland helped St. Francis win the CCS Open Division title, while as a unit the Lancers outpaced their opponents by a staggering margin of 267-30.

Mya Perez (Norco) Soph.
Just finishing her sophomore season, Perez came through for Norco with clutch hits time-after-time. Two of her big clutch hits were walk-off winners against Chino Hills (two-run home run) and Huntington Beach (RBI single). She consistently showed exceptional power, finishing with 11 home runs, 54 RBI and a .543 batting average. Amazingly, Perez struck out just four times in 112 plate appearances. Named the Inland softball “Player of the Year” by the Riverside Press-Enterprise and a Los Angeles Times 2021 All-Star, Mya’s biggest honor was being selected last month as our State Sophomore Player of the Year.

Sydney Peterson (Franklin, Stockton) Sr.
We know a little bit more about Sydney’s career since Franklin is a school we’ve been to several times while substitute teaching. Let’s just say the softball program struggles and it would have been completely understandable if Sydney (a top student attracted to Franklin’s IB program) never played a game there and just concentrated on her club team. Regarded as one of the top 20 recruits in the state for her class, Peterson instead played all four years with her high school friends. In her senior season in 13 reported games, she went 26-for-31 for an .839 average with six homers and 10 doubles. Sydney’s sophomore season isn’t reported, but in 50 career games she batted .640 with 13 homers and 54 RBI. Peterson is now attending LSU and will be playing in the SEC this spring.

Rylee Pinedo (Camarillo) Jr.
There was huge news regarding Rylee several weeks ago when she landed an offer from mighty UCLA and then committed to the Bruins. Pinedo, playing for a team that won the Coastal Canyon League and CIF SoCal Regional Division 2 championships, was named league “Most Valuable Player” this past spring as a junior. She was also tabbed for the All-CIF SS Division 2 softball first-team. Pinedo’s impressive stats for the season included a .512 batting average, 18 RBI, a .551 on-base percentage, a .621 slugging average and 17 stolen bases.

Savannah Pola (Godinez, Santa Ana) Sr.
Coming into the 2021 season, Pola was described as one of the elite hitters in Orange County — pretty high praise. Based upon her gaudy statistical numbers, it was well-deserved. She produced a .707 batting average, five home runs, 30 RBI, a .793 on-base percentage and 1.463 slugging average. Pola is a true power-hitter to the max. This UCLA-bound senior was selected All-CIF SS Division 2 softball first-team and was Cal-Hi Sports’ 2018 All-State Underclass selection and the 2019 “Sophomore of the Year.” Pola also was all-state medium schools earlier in her career, but this time Godinez was in a higher section playoff division so she makes it for the overall squad and technically large schools.

Taylor Stephens’ next home run will be for the UCLA Bruins. She was a four-year varsity standout at Gahr (Cerritos). Photo: extrainningsoftball.com.

Taylor Stephens (Gahr, Cerritos) Sr.
An earlier than expected exit from the CIFSS D1 playoffs ended the prep career of Stephens, who was a standout on Gahr teams for four years that frequently were highly placed in the overall state rankings. She was valued as a top 30 national recruit for her ability in the field — she can play all infield positions — and at the plate and is now at UCLA. In 17 reported games in the spring at Gahr, Taylor rapped out a .636 average with three homers. In 71 reported career games (one year missing from MaxPreps), she hit .474.

Reagan Walsh (South, Torrance) Sr.
We’re suckers for family connections and for Reagan it’s that we saw her dad, John, play several times as a prep quarterback (mostly for Carson High). Pops was an all-state first team player himself (before going on to BYU) and now his daughter is the same in her sport. Reagan is far away these days at the University of Florida, but not long after she concluded her high school career by hitting 11 homers as a senior for the Spartans and being named the Daily Breeze Player of the Year. Walsh also hit .472 with 27 RBI, 27 runs scored and an OPS of 1.542. She was a four-year varsity player at South and praised by her coach, Scott Hayward, for her defensive improvement. “It always amazed me that in any critical part of the game, Reagan was even pitched to at all,” Hayward told the Daily Breeze. “I seriously doubt there’s been a better player to set foot on this dirt (at South). She’s special, and it has been a pleasure coaching her.”

FIRST TEAM OVERALL OUTFIELD

Hannah Coor (Esperanza, Anaheim) Sr.
She was one of the most talented players in the entire Southland for the 2021 season. She was a major factor in the success of an Esperanza club that was champion of the highly-competitive CIFSS Division 1 playoffs. One of the many highlights of the season for the Oklahoma-bound center fielder was when she belted a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift Esperanza past Murrieta Mesa 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Coor also smacked a two-run blast to give the Aztecs a 3-2 lead versus Norco. She batted nearly .460 for the season as her game provided plenty of offense and excellent defense. She was an easy selection for the All-CIF SS Division 1 softball team and her Aztecs were selected as Cal-Hi Sports’ “State Team of the Year.”

Paige Dimler of Rancho Buena Vista will go down as one of the best sluggers in CIF San Diego Section history. Photo: extrainningsoftball.com.


Paige Dimler (Rancho Buena Vista, Vista) Sr.
It will be tough to turn the Paige at RBV. Dimler finished as one of the all time power hitters in the CIF San Diego Section, with the pandemic halting a chance for her to finish at the top of the all-time area list. The senior outfielder still had a quality season, in a year that saw her power Rancho Buena Vista to an appearance in the SD Open Division title game. The Arizona signee had a team high 10 home runs, while knocking in 26 RBI and scoring 40 runs. At one point Dimler was more of a slap hitter, but quickly expanded her power hitting once she hit high school and was a terror all four years.

Dakota Kennedy (Sheldon, Sacramento) Jr.
Kennedy’s parents are both former Division 1 athletes, so it is no surprise that the Sac-Joaquin Section star crushed competition this past year. The Arizona commit helped power the Huskies to a 15-game winning streak to finish the season. The five-tool outfielder had a team high average of .581 and drove in 41 RBI on 43 hits. Kennedy, alongside hard hitter sophomore Jaylee Ojo should make Sheldon one of the top returning teams in the SJS and Northern California heading into next season.

FIRST TEAM OVERALL MULTI-PURPOSE (Hit & Pitch)

Brooklyn Carreon (Whittier Christian, La Habra) Jr.
So how much of an impact player was Carreon at Whittier Christian? She became the first player in league history to win both the “Player and Pitcher of the Year” awards in the same season. This was on display with her .518 batting average, four home runs, 38 RBI and .882 slugging percentage. Pitching-wise, she was 8-1 with a 0.69 ERA and 269 punch-outs in 141 2/3 innings. She had two 16-strikeout games and struck out 10-or-more 14 times. Carreon was named the CIF SS Division 3 softball “Player of the Year” and player of the year for a region covering Whittier, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley. Just finishing her junior season, the girl they call the “Brooklynator” also was our State Medium Schools Player of the Year. She has committed to Utah.

Kylie Chung (Westlake, Westlake Village) Sr.
The L.A. Daily News Player of the Year was a force to be reckoned with this season for the Warriors and helped Westlake achieve top 10 status in the state. The current Stanford Cardinal freshman was lights out in the circle, as the senior struck out 212 batters in 119 ⅓ innings while coming out of a tough schedule with a 0.88 ERA. Chung wasn’t available for all of the Warriors’ deep postseason run because of international play, but still finished with an 18-3 record, while having 10 complete games and managing one no-hitter. She could also swing the bat this past year as Chung knocked in 27 RBI while launching nine home runs.

Devyn Greer (Huntington Beach) Sr.
Greer finished her career for the Oilers as one of the best in a long line of superior performers. She was one of the most complete players in Orange County, and the state for that matter. Greer sported a 9-2 record in the circle with two saves and an 0.68 ERA. She struck out 123 batters in 82 innings of work. Greer really racked up the honors, as well. She was selected the Surf League’s “Most Valuable Pitcher,” All-CIF SS Division 1 first-team, Los Angeles Times 2021 All-Star, and the Orange County Register’s Softball “Player of the Year.” For good measure, at the plate she batted .467 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI. She is now at the University of Iowa to continue her career.

Sydney Somerndike (Villa Park) Jr.
This Arizona-commit junior absolutely dominated the diamond by posting a 24-3 record with an 0.80 ERA and 336 strikeouts — the most wins and highest winning percentage in school history. At the plate, Somerndike hit .317 with a team-high five homers, 18 RBI and a .600 slugging percentage. She garnered numerous awards including Gatorade State “Player of the Year,” the Orange County Register’s Orange County softball “Pitcher of the Year,” All-CIF SS Division 2 first-team and was a Los Angeles Times 2021 All-Star selection. Somerndike completed her quest for perfection on March 29 as she notched her first career perfect game, striking out 18 batters in an 8-0 victory against visiting JSerra Catholic. She followed that performance by throwing a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 win against Aliso Niguel with 12 strikeouts. Somerndike fired her third no-hitter of the season and struck out 19 to lead the Spartans to a 4-0 victory against Diamond Bar.

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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