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On the Beat Softball: Highlights of 2014 season

Posted: June 7, 2014 11:02 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2014 11:02 p.m.

Now that the 2014 season is officially over at both the high school and college levels, let’s take a look at the highlights and a predictions for the 2015 season.

Foothill League’s game of the year: Saugus 1, West Ranch 0, May 8. After Centurions pitcher Mariah Lopez allowed one earned and one unearned run on April 22 and lost 2-1 to the Wildcats, this time around, she was even better. She shut out the defending league champs in what was effectively a must-win game for Saugus’ title hopes.

Foothill League’s coaching move of the year: West Ranch head coach Bob Shults starts Brandi Burgin in the Wildcats anticipated matchup with Saugus. Burgin allows just one run to earn the victory.

Underappreciated freshman: Abby Sweet, Hart — It’s hard to make a big name for yourself when your team goes winless in league play, but Sweet is the real deal and one to watch next season. She led the team with a .393 average, 33 hits and five doubles. She also had 11 RBIs and two home runs.

Sophomore sensation: Mariah Lopez, Saugus — Lopez was a dominant pitcher with a season ERA of 0.59. She was nearly unhittable, and set down opposing lineups in order in over one-third of her innings pitched.

Junior accolades: Keeley Walsh, West Ranch — A stacked roster may have relegated Walsh to honorable mention status for All-Foothill League, but she was still the top junior in this valley. Her .453 batting average, five home runs and 32 RBIs made her a consistent threat at the plate.

Tip-top senior: Lauren Lindvall, West Ranch — Lindvall was the league’s best position player. The University of Oregon-bound senior led the Wildcats with 45 RBIs — eight more than the next highest player on the team — and also led with 10 home runs.

Best guess at 2015 champion: Saugus — This team loses Foothill co-Player of the Year Alyssa Rodriguez but remains stacked, and with Lopez in the circle, the Centurions should win another title.

Best guess at 2015 Player of the Year: Cayla Kessinger, Saugus — The University of Missouri commit had the numbers for consideration this season before the award went to Rodriguez. If Saugus wins the title, Kessinger should be a big reason why.

Best guess at 2015 Pitcher of the Year: Mariah Lopez — This one shouldn’t be contingent on an outright Saugus victory. Lopez is the league’s best pitcher, and a new face will have to put up some pretty big numbers next season to change that.

Transfer change: Prior to the 2013-14 school year, the CIF-Southern Section announced changes to its transfer policy.

In short, players who transferred schools would now be eligible to play during their upcoming year after a sit-out period.

Prior to this change, players were not allowed to participate in a varsity sport in which they had previously played at another school for at least a year.

The long-term effects of this change are unclear, but in the short term — at least in softball — the change may have altered the league title race significantly.

After West Ranch pitcher Lexi Sorensen went down early in the league season, Burgin — not eligible until April 7 — stepped in.

According to Wildcats head coach Bob Shults, the team would have struggled had Burgin not filled in as a pitcher, saying she was the player the Wildcats could least afford to lose during the league season.

Whether the rule change will increase transfers in Foothill League softball is unknown, but it’s logical to wonder if Burgin’s success during her senior year could lead other athletes to want to follow suit.

Whether or not this is a good thing is open to debate, but rumors have already begun to swirl about players departing one local school for another for the upcoming season.

So we’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out in 2015.


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