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2015 Softball player of the year: Alyssa Palomino, Mission Viejo
It was less than 48 hours after the most crushing loss of her young career when Alyssa Palomino boarded a flight to Oklahoma City for the start of Team USA’s Junior National training camp.
With the text messages from the team’s group thread continuing to come in, and the “what ifs” inevitably playing out in her head, it seemed natural for Mission Viejo’s star center fielder to take the diamond as soon as humanly possible.
“It’s good just to get back out there right away,” said Mission Viejo coach Toni Mascarenas, who is also Palomino’s aunt. “I know it seems weird, but continuing to play – even though you just got done doing that – helps soothe some of that pain.”
There weren’t many moments of frustration in Palomino’s high school career, as the ups overwhelmingly outweighed the downs.
Not being able to add a second consecutive CIF-SS Division 2 championship will sting for awhile, but turning in a resume that reads four-time All-South Coast League, three-time All-American and Orange County’s all-time home run leader is something be proud of.
After leading the county in long balls again as a senior and establishing herself as one of the county’s all-time greats, Palomino is the Register’s player of the year for a third consecutive season.
“I coached Alyssa in travel ball, watched her hit her first home run when she was 10, (and) she kept hitting them in high school,” said Troy Ybarra, who shares the Diablos’ co-coaching duties with Mascarenas. “She’s worked so hard and has such a great passion for game. She studies it, lives to play it and has made this program stronger.”
The Arizona-bound Palomino capped her senior season with 16 home runs and a .532 batting average while posting a .619 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot.
It was in March when Palomino belted a pair of home runs in the same game, giving her 47 for her career. That broke the Orange County record, which had been 46, set by Lauren Chamberlain (El Toro). The Diablos slugger went on to become the first player to break the state record in April, belting her 54th and 55th homers against El Toro.
“I’m actually just glad that I’m not hearing about it anymore,” Palomino joked after breaking the record. “And honestly, I’m excited for my (travel ball) teammate Tannon Snow.”
Palomino finished her career with 58 four-baggers, putting her second all-time in state history behind her good friend, Chino Hill’s Snow, who racked up 60 by year’s end.
More home runs are sure to come for Palomino at the collegiate level, where Palomino and Diablos teammate, Taylor McQuillin, give the Wildcats one of the top recruiting packages in the country.
If high school was any indication of how the duo will fare at the next level, Palomino could be making another trip to Oklahoma City late next spring for the Women’s College World Series.
“The drive, the talent and the ambition that she has is just absolutely amazing, and I couldn’t be any more proud of her,” McQuillin said. “I’m just glad she’s on my team.”
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