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2015 Softball preview: Top O.C. players to watch
The top 10 O.C. players to watch for the 2015 softball season.
TOP 10 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Paulina Anasis, Canyon, Sr.: She is arguably the top third baseman in the county with a great glove and one of the most feared bats around. Anasis mashes the ball at the plate, leading Canyon with a .425 average in 2014 while also posting team-highs in hits (31), runs (21) and RBI (23). The Northwestern-bound senior is one of the area’s toughest outs.
Faith Canfield, Pacifica, Sr.: Canfield is as versatile and clutch as they come. The Michigan-bound senior spent time at both center field and shortstop last season, in addition to leading the Division 1 champs in hits (43), runs (34) and RBI (35). Having a player like Canfield back in the lineup softens the blow of losing bats like Nicole DeWitt and Brooke Marquez to graduation.
Maddy Dwyer, Orange Lutheran, Soph.: It’s always impressive when a pitcher can consistently get outs against the loaded lineups in the Trinity League. But for a freshman to come in and dominate with a 17-5 record and a 1.86 ERA? That’s just not fair. Dwyer only figures to improve off her MVP season in the circle as a sophomore, and that’s a scary thought for the likes of Mater Dei, Rosary, Santa Margarita and JSerra.
Hailey Hilburn, Canyon, Sr.: Her changeup is one of the nastiest pitches in the county, and when she’s freezing batters with it, good luck. The Utah-bound right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the Southern Section over the second half of last season, leading the Comanches to a berth in the Division 1 semis. The next step for Hilburn and company this year will be getting to the Division 1 championship game.
Kristina Inouye, Huntington Beach, Jr.: The Cal-bound shortstop was instrumental in the Oilers earning a share of its first league title since 1996 last season. Inouye led Huntington Beach in batting average (.527), hits (39), RBI (34), doubles (12) and homers (4). With four of Huntington Beach’s top bats back again this season, it’ll be hard to pitch around Inouye and not feel the consequences.
Morganne Flores, Mater Dei, Sr.: While her average “dipped” to .350 last season, the future Washington Huskie tallied more hits, runs, doubles and homers than she did in her All-County 2013 campaign. Flores’ ability at the plate is matched by her defensive prowess behind it, making her one of the top defensive catchers the area has to offer.
Marshaylee Knighten, Sunny Hills, Sr.: She was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country for good reason. The Lancers shortstop led her team in every statistical category at the dish in 2014, and flashed an outstanding glove when out in the field. Before she ships off to Oklahoma, the goal for Knighten will be to build off her club’s frustrating 14-12 campaign from a season ago.
Taylor McQuillin, Mission Viejo, Sr.: Best players in the county? How about the country. McQuillin was awarded Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2014 after leading Mission Viejo to the Division 2 crown with a 25-win season in the circle. The Arizona-bound lefty fanned 316 batters last year, in addition to tossing two perfect games, two no-hitters and five one-hitters.
Alyssa Palomino, Mission Viejo, Sr.: It’s a matter of when, not if, for the county’s two-time Player of the Year. The Arizona-bound, power-hitting center fielder holds the country records for career home runs (47) and home runs in a season (18).
Kolby Romaine, Rosary, Sr.: Once she became eligible after transferring in last season, the Royals shortstop proved to be the biggest addition in the county. In just 18 games, Romaine batted .527, scored 20 runs and drove in 14 runs. If the Missouri commit can sustain that type of success over an entire season, Rosary will make another serious push atop the Trinity League standings.
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