It was a much more difficult final decision than in many of the Ms. Softball State Player of the Year honors that have been done over the last 40 years, but in the end pitcher-hitter Randi Roelling checked the most boxes that are looked for and the Modesto Central Catholic standout has now been named Ms. Softball State Player of the Year for the 2023 season.
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Last year’s final choice for the Ms. Softball State Player of the Year was very hard, but it came down to two players and then it was a matter of going through everything and looking for the smallest of advantages for one over the other.
This year’s was extremely hard as well, but there were more leading contenders than just two. The group included 2022 State Junior of the Year Ryan Maddox of Fresno Clovis West, pitcher Sophia Mariottini of State Team of the Year Hollister, junior Miali Guachino from Great Oak of Temecula, senior Alyssa Hovermale of Norco, senior Anahi Arreola of Westlake Village Oaks Christian, senior Ella Parker from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, junior Zoe Prystajko of Huntington Beach and sophomore Mya McGowan of Poway.
For her combination of team success, ranking high as a national recruit, notable pitching and hitting accomplishments and having a signature moment in her final game, it has all added up for Randi Roelling from Central Catholic of Modesto to be selected as 2023 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year.
“She’s had a lot of honors, but this one tops them all,” said Central Catholic head coach Sam Nichols on Friday when informed Roelling was going to be Ms. Softball. “While she’s aware of who’s doing what with all the players she knows, she’s very humble about it as well.”
When Roelling signed her letter of intent last summer with the University of California, Bears’ head coach Chelsea Spencer had this to say: “Randi is not only one of the top pitchers in the country, but she is also a top hitter and fielder that can play multiple positions. She has monster juice in the box and brings a left-handed pitching presence that we have been waiting for since Michelle Granger.”
Granger is still looked at one of the all-time greats for college softball and is the only three-time honoree of the Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State Player of the Year for her years at Valencia of Placentia in Orange County.
Roelling also might be familiar with Orange County since she has played in the Batbusters club program (which started in Orange County). Based on how she’s done with the Batbusters’ Gomes NorCal team, Roelling was ranked No. 14 nationally in the Extra Innings Elite 100 at the time she signed with the Bears.
While Central Catholic didn’t compete at the highest level of NorCal softball in the playoffs, the team won the CIF NorCal D3 title, went 30-4 overall and was No. 1 in the final D3 state rankings. In addition to Roelling being State Player of the Year she’s also Medium Schools Player of the Year (which required us to add a large schools player of the year).
In the NorCal final, facing a Ponderosa of Shingle Springs team that had edged the Raiders 1-0 in the Sac-Joaquin Section D3 championship, Roelling left no doubt. She tossed a perfect game with nine strikeouts and connected for a two-run homer. This came after she struck out 19 in a win over CIF Northern Section champion Pleasant Valley of Chico.
The section playoffs began for Roelling with back-to-back no-hitters in wins over Linden and Vanden of Fairfield. She had four no-hitters in all plus five one-hitters.
For the season, the other big number for Roelling was her total of 375 strikeouts in 178 2/3 innings. That wasn’t just the reported state lead but was more than 50 in front of the second-highest total. Randi also had a 21-3 record and 0.59 ERA. As a hitter, she was a force all season for the Raiders with a .361 average, seven homers, 35 hits, and 27 RBI.
“She’s one of the most highly competitive people you’ll ever find,” said Nichols, who completed his second season as the Raiders’ head coach. “We were all disappointed after the section game, but we didn’t hang our heads. Randi just said, ‘Coach, I got this’ and she got after it after that.”
It takes 1,000 career strikeouts to make the all-time state list so Randi just missed that with 988 (freshman year limited by COVID). She also had a career ERA of 0.82, 49-9 record, with a .331 career batting average and 17 homers.
There’s been a solid number of players from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section who have been State Player of the Year since 1974 (including Jayla Castro of Rocklin from 2021), but the only others from the southern part of the section before Roelling have been Nicole Bates of Ceres for 2016 and Katie Cotta of Linden for 2005.
Nichols will be hoping that his own daughter, Samantha, has learned a lot by watching Roelling compete the last two years. Samantha Nichols will be a freshman at Central Catholic next season and since she plays for the Corona Angels travel ball squad it’s likely she’s going to be very good.
“She leaves a legacy of just competing on every pitch and every at bat,” Nichols said. “Her work ethic, leadership and mentorship to the younger players has been priceless. These are the things no one gets to see.”
Well, for the things that were seen, it was enough for Roelling to head off to Berkeley with the most prestigious state honor that a California high school softball player can get.
ALL-TIME LIST CAL-HI SPORTS
MS. SOFTBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR
2023 – Randi Roelling, Modesto Central Catholic P-INF
2022 – Jessica Oakland,
Mountain View St. Francis INF
2021 – Jayla Castro, Rocklin C
2020 – No selection (pandemic)
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 P-DH
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, SJ 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