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MATT MASIN , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Mission Viejo's Camryn Ybarra is the Register's softball player of the year.

O.C. softball player of the year: Mission Viejo's Camryn Ybarra

STAFF WRITER

ORANGE – Camryn Ybarra had continued her postseason tear by slugging two home runs just two hours earlier in Mission Viejo’s second-round CIF-SS playoff win over Riverside Poly.

Naturally for her, she finished her day with some late-night hacks in the cages with her hitting coach.

“I want to be the best on the team and want to lead everyone off,” Ybarra explained.

For two straight years, she hit directly behind one of the best bats Orange County has ever seen: Alyssa Palomino, the area’s all-time home run leader.

Stepping into the leadoff role this season, Ybarra made sure there was no drop-off in production from the No. 1 slot.

The junior outfielder led the Diablos in batting average (.514), home runs (12), hits (54), on-base percentage (.617) and runs scored (33) – much like her predecessor. And like her predecessor, Ybarra has been named the Register’s Orange County softball player of the year.

“Her biggest adjustments came in having quality at-bats, hitting the ball early in the count,” noted Troy Ybarra, who doubles as Mission Viejo’s coach and her dad. “She didn’t get behind much. Pitchers would walk Alyssa to get to her last year, and she didn’t like that. It’s what helped her confidence rise to another level, though.”

Ybarra hit . 423 last season as the Diablos’ two-hole hitter, regularly burning teams who opted to pitch around Palomino. This season, it immediately became evident that teams would now have to fear Ybarra, who is one of the most natural hitters around.

Ybarra went a combined 25 for 42 against the elite pitchers in the top three tournaments on the west coast – the Best of the West, the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions, and the Michelle Carew Classic.

In the Best of the West championship game against eventual Division 1 champion Mater Dei, she went 4 for 4 and scored four runs to lead a 14-4 rout of the Monarchs.

The development of lightning-quick slap hitter Olivia Viggiano in the No. 2 slot proved to be one of the chief reasons Mission Viejo (27-4) soared down the stretch, winning its second CIF-SS championship in three years. The Diablos were selected the state champions by CalHiSports.com.

“With the one-two punch that we had – besides not having the home runs – it was the same exact disaster (for opponents) as last year,” Troy Ybarra said.

While the Diablos overall didn’t hit as many homers as they did a year ago, Ybarra’s power increased. Seven of her 12 homers led off an inning. Five led off the game, serving as an immediate punch to the gut of an opponent.

The exciting part for the Diablos is that they should welcome back eight of nine starters next spring, including the first four in the order: Ybarra, Viggiano, Terra McGowan and Kyra Snyder.

“I think it’ll be the same,” Camryn said of the team’s expectations. “Same mentality, the same friendships. We’re definitely losing the heart of our team with three seniors graduating. But we’re going to come back and see if we can do it all again.”

That bar continues to go up at Mission Viejo.

This time, Camryn Ybarra has herself to thank for that.

ALL-COUNTY SOFTBALL

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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