|Player of the Year: Lauren Chamberlain|
El Toro's Lauren Chamberlain hit a county-record 17 home runs and was was selected the 2010 Softball Player of the Year. Video by Carlos Arias, OCVarsity.com.
|Coach of the Year: Bruce Sanborn|
Capistrano Valley Christian coach Bruce Sanborn is the 2010 Softball Coach of the Year after leading the Eagles to a San Joaquin League title and the CIF-SS Division 7 semifinals. Video by Carlos Arias, OCVarsity.com.
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El Toro's Chamberlain is the softball player of the year
The junior hit a county-record 17 home runs, but she contributed this season in many ways.
LAKE FOREST – El Toro's Lauren Chamberlain appears to be fearless when she steps to the plate.
She certainly strikes fear in the hearts of pitchers around the county.
But Chamberlain has fears just like everyone else. She is a talented singer, but she had never sung in front of a large audience.
Chamberlain got the opportunity to sing the national anthem before the CIF-SS Division 3 championship game between Ayala of Chino Hills and Warren of Downey last week in front of a packed house at Bill Barker Park in Irvine.
"I'm pretty freaked out," Chamberlain acknowledged a few minutes before her performance.
Chamberlain faced her fear, stepped out on the field and knocked it out of the park like she had so many times during her record-breaking season.
Chamberlain put up astonishing numbers this season, belting a county-record 17 home runs. It wasn't just the home runs that set her apart. She hit .512 with five doubles, three triples, 11 stolen bases, 35 runs scored and 39 RBIs. She did all that from the leadoff position.
Chamberlain, who received an invite to the Junior National team tryouts, was the total package this season, and she is The Register's 2010 Softball Player of the Year.
"When I started playing it was my hitting that really stood out," said Chamberlain, who has committed to Oklahoma. "This year, I've improved a lot with my hitting."
That might be the understatement of the season. So how did she make that jump to another level?
"It's really simple, it was just my pitch selection," Chamberlain said. "I was kind of up and down with my pitch selection last year and the year before. But this year, just focusing on trying to get a pitch down the middle, putting a good hack on it, and most of the time it's going to turn out good."
That adjustment was not good news for the pitchers who had to face Chamberlain.
"I mean, I'm not perfect, yet," Chamberlain joked. "I'm still really aggressive when it comes to getting good pitches. But just waiting and waiting on that good pitch to hack at ... That's my approach to it."
Chamberlain needed the patience of a Zen Buddhist monk to keep her cool at the plate with the way teams pitched around her. She was walked 28 times, including many intentional walks. She had a .640 on-base percentage.
"When it comes to walks and stuff, again getting a good pitch is sometimes frustrating when you get a lot of balls," Chamberlain said. "But then it puts me on base and I love running the bases. ... If I'm helping my team by getting on base or getting a hit or getting a walk, as long as I get on base and get a chance to run."
Chamberlain moved from third base to shortstop this season and her defense was stellar.
"I play on the Worth Firecrackers with Tony Rico, and one of the things on their team is smooth defense," Chamberlain said. "It's soft hands and stuff like that, a lot of fundies (fundamentals)."
El Toro's team had a scary moment at the Faster to 1st Classic when pitcher Kristi Denny got nailed in the face with a line drive against Norco, the defending CIF-SS Division 1 champions. She was taken to the hospital where she underwent reconstructive surgery.
"It was a scary moment," Chamberlain said. "I was at shortstop. She pitched it down the middle and the girl just jumped all over it, line drive back at her face. She hit the ground and it shook everyone up. It was Kristi Denny our second pitcher, so MacKenzie Sanderson had to come back in and finish that game.
"We took a little break while she got off to the hospital. We were all really shaken up. We talked about it and it came up, 'are we going to finish this game or do we want to stop here? Are we OK stopping?' We thought about it, and Kristi would want us to finish the game. So we ended up rallying and beating them (Norco).
"That was a big game for us. That shook us up and threw us off track for a while, just because our brains were everywhere. But the whole team came back together stronger than we were before. We really felt like a family. We really pulled through for Denny's family. We were all there for her. We came over to her house and stuff like that. That moment was scary, but it ultimately brought us closer together."
Chamberlain believes the Chargers have a bright future.
"It was an up-and-down season," Chamberlain said. "Other teams have had up-and-down seasons. It's normal. This was really like a rebuilding year for our team. We're losing four seniors, but I'm really excited for next season and coming back strong. We had four sophomores this season. It should be fun next season."