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Top players to watch in the softball playoffs
OCVarsity's Carlos Arias takes a look at the top players to watch from Orange County (and some from outside O.C.) in the CIF-Southern Section softball playoffs, which begin Tuesday with the wild-card round. Click through the slideshow to find Arias' analysis:
Key Orange County players to watch in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs:
Erika Campbell, Pacifica, Sr., OF: Pacifica has one of the most loaded lineups in Division 1. Guess who has been the hottest heading into the playoffs? That's right, Campbell, who has signed with Oklahoma State. The senior outfielder is batting .640 (16 of 25) with six runs and 10 RBIs in the final eight games of the regular season.
Lauren Young, Canyon, Sr., SS: Canyon finished third in the Century League last season before putting together a run that culminated with the Comanches' first trip to the CIF-SS Division 1 finals. Young, who has signed with Arizona, was a big reason for Canyon's success in last season's postseason run. LY has been heating up at the right time to help Canyon make another run. Young batted .452 with three homers, three doubles, a triple and 15 RBIs in Century League games.
Infinity Laufau, Los Alamitos, So., SS: If the Griffins are going to have a shot at the Division 1 championship, they will need production from Laufou, a sophomore slugger. Laufou had three homers, six runs and nine RBIs in Sunset League games.
Jade Vecvanags, Orange Lutheran, Jr., P/OF: Vecvanags is part of the 1-2 punch for the Lancers in the circle. Whether OLu starts with Madison Osias and then brings in Vecvanags or vice versa, they are two completely different pitchers. Vecvanags' control and ball movement really throws off opposing hitters. She's 14-0 with a 0.65 ERA with1 34 strikeouts in 96 innings. And she's hitting .423 with nine homers and 25 RBIs.
Nicole Schroeder, Esperanza, Sr., 3B/1B, Arkansas: Schroeder, who has signed with Arkansas, has been the go-to clutch hitter for the Aztecs all season. She hit nearly .500 in Century League play and she is hitting .390 with six doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 27 RBIs for the season. If Esperanza is going to do some damage in the postseason, Schroeder will have to be a factor.
Maleena Esparza, La Habra, Sr., SS: Esparza, who has signed with Northern Illinois, should be in line for another Freeway League MVP award after a fantastic senior season. She is batting .568 with six doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 33 RBIs and 40 runs. Esparza is the main reason the Highlanders are contenders in Division 4.
Taylor McQuillin, Mission Viejo, Fr., P: McQuillin, who has already committed to Oklahoma State, established herself as one of the premier power pitchers in the county and led the Diablos to the South Coast league title and the No. 1 seed in Division 2. She is 22-5 with a 0.80 ERA and 268 strikeouts in 176 innings.
Sammy Cordova, Edison, Jr., P, Utah: Cordova, who has committed to Utah, took center stage this season and established herself as Edison's ace with a stellar junior season. Cordova went 22-4, including 11 shutouts, with a 0.77 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 164 innings.
Victoria Zamora, El Modena, So., C: Zamora is only a sophomore, but she has the leadership skills of a veteran. Zamora hit .442 for the season and .475 in century League play. El Modena will rely on Zamora's clutch hitting and catching skills behind the plate if the Vanguards hope to be a factor in Division 1.
Micaela Arizmendi, Mater Dei, Sr., 1B/OF, Notre Dame: The Notre Dame-bound Arizmendi had a monster senior season, batting .479 with six doubles, three triples, five homers, 22 runs and 33 RBIs. Arizmendi and the Monarchs proved they can knock off some top teams, including Orange Lutheran, so Division 1 teams better not sleep on Mater Dei.
Selene Pola, Segerstrom, Sr., P: The Jaguars got bounced in the second round last season and they were eliminated in the first round in 2010. If Segerstrom is going to make a difference in Division 4, it will need a strong performance from Pola, who has signed with Long Beach State. Pola is 11-3, including seven shutouts, with a 0.83 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 84 innings.
Lauren Delgadillo, San Clemente, Sr., C: Delgadillo, who will play at Yale, established herself as one of the county's top power hitters and led the Tritons to the Sea View League title this season. Delgadillo is hitting .465 with five doubles, one triple, eight homers and 31 RBIs. Division 2 teams better watch out for Delgadillo and San Clemente.
Tiffany Mikkelson, Aliso Niguel, Sr., 3B, Oklahoma State: Mikkelson, who has signed with Oklahome State, has been a bona fide power hitter throughout her entire career at Aliso Niguel. The Wolverines need a huge performance from Mikkelson, who is hitting .434 with eight homers, to snap out of their late-season funk and make a run in Division 2.
Melanie Coyne, Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana, Jr., P/Inf: Coyne used her bat and her arm to help lead the eagles to their fourth consecutive Orange Coast League title. Now it's time to see if Calvary Chapel can get it done in the Division 5 playoffs. Coyne is hitting .590 with 11 doubles, five triple, five homers and 39 RBIs. She's also 15-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 120 innings.
Cindy Gallina, Saddleback Valley Christian, Jr., 3B/C: Saddleback Valley Christian is the county's best hope and catcher/third baseman Gallina was a big reason for the Warriors success. She hit .475 with seven doubles, seven home runs, 41 runs and 34 RBIs.
Key non-Orange County players to watch in the playoffs:
Melissa Taukeiaho, Etiwanda, Sr., 3B/P: Taukeiaho, who has signed with Washington, has 38 career home runs, including 16 homers this season. Taukeiaho is hitting .543 with 41 runs and 39 RBIs. She's arguably the most dangerous hitter in SoCal and she gives the Eagles a shot against anybody in Division 1.
Sierra Romero, Vista Murrieta of Murrieta, Sr., SS/2B: Romero, who has signed with Michigan, 44 career home runs, including 19 bombs this season. Romero is hitting .580 with 10 doubles, 35 runs and 44 RBIs. Vista Murrieta will be a very dangerous opponent for any team in Division 1.
Nancy Bowling, Royal of Simi Valley, Sr., RHP/3B, Arizona: Pitching is the name of the game in softball and Bowling, who has signed with Arizona, is capable of carrying her team all the way in Division 1. She is 24-2 with a 0.38 ERA and 231 strikeouts in 149 innings. She also has recorded 17 shutouts.
Emily Lockman, Norco, Sr., P: Lockman, who has signed with Nebraska, is the kind of lockdown pitcher that can carry a team all the way to a Division 1 championship. Lockman is battle-tested against the top teams in SoCal and she is major reason Norco is seeded No. 1 in Division 1.
Janelle Lindvall, West Ranch of Valencia, Sr., C/1B, Oregon: Lindvall, who has signed with Oregon, helped the Wildcats win the ultra-competitive Foothill League championship and she has the capability of leading them all the way in Division 1. Lindvall is hitting .551 with six homers, six doubles, two triples and 28 RBIs.