Video: 2017 Preseason Top 50 Softball Teams
View images of elite players on softball teams ranked among our preseason Top 10.
Pitching strong Southern California dominates the 2017 MaxPreps Xcellent Preseason Top 50 Softball Rankings.
Six Southern California teams are ranked in the top 10 and eight are in the top 20. Each has at least one pitcher who will play Division I softball, while some have two or three.
Buoyed by 18 players who have signed or committed to play collegiate softball, Los Alamitos opens the season at No. 1. Rob Weil, Griffins head coach, expects that number to grow 20 future college players by the time his team takes the field next month.
Perennial SoCal power Mission Viejo opens at No. 2. The Diablos finished at No. 9 in 2016 and spent most of the 2015 season ranked No. 1 before losing on the season's final day to finish at No. 3.
West Orange (Winter Garden, Fla.), which finished 2016 riding a 23-game win streak and ranked No. 5, opens 2017 at No. 3. Rounding out the top five are Norco (Calif.) and 2016 Texas 6A state champions Keller.
Reigning Xcellent mythical national champion Eagle (Idaho) opens at No. 50.
MaxPreps 2107 Xcellent 50 Preseason Softball Rankings
1. Los Alamitos (Calif.)2016 record:
3,150Players to watch
- Ryan Denhart
, the senior pitcher signed with Maryland. As a junior, she won 14 games, posted a 1.18 ERA and averaged better than a strikeout per inning.
- Brianna Jewett
, the junior pitcher was All-League and Sunset League's Rookie of the Year in 2016.
- Mary Iakopo
, the senior catcher has signed with Oregon and is a member of the USA Girls softball team. The Sunset League MVP had eight home runs and a .426 batting average in 2016. Other signees: Caitlin Ladd
(Michigan State), Alexa Schultz
, (Oklahoma), Allison Englant
(Ohio), Jenna Kean
(Arizona), Paige Austin
(Biola), infielder Andrea Gonzalez
(Iowa State), infielder Allisha Martinez
(Regis), outfielder Michele Ota
(UC San Diego), first baseman Cami Sellers
(Boston College),and infielder Cierra Valenzona
(Cal State Dominguez Hills).Griffin story lines
The Griffins graduated five players from last year's CIF-Southern Section semifinals team and, at first glance, that might seem like a challenge to replace. But a big group comes back for a shot at the section title, including seven players who earned all-league honors.
A closer look at the 2017 roster reveals that coach Rob Weil has 18 players who have signed or committed to play at the collegiate level. And 14 of those are seniors. Weil notes that two more are likely to commit once the season begins.
Other Griffins who are future college players include juniors outfielder Madison Blossey
(Biola), infielder Daisy Munoz (Cal State Fullerton) and infielder Kaitlin Parsons
(Tennessee), sophomore pitcher Sarah Ladd
(Michigan State) and freshman infielder Kennedi Houshmandzadeh
The Griffins have 14 seniors who play on high-level travel ball teams and have been together at Los Alamitos for four years.Weil quotes
"This team is one of the most talented teams we have ever coached," said Weil, who has a record of 181-70 dating back to the 2009 season. "Team strengths would have to be our pitching, speed, and offense up and down the lineup."
"Playing time for all will hopefully happen because anyone can step in and do the job on any given day."Key datesFeb. 28
– season officially opens versus Foothill (Santa Ana, Calif.).March 9-10-11
– Tournament of Champions (Bullhead, Ariz.).March 23
– at No. 2 Mission Viejo (Calif.).March 30
- Host No. 10 Huntington Beach (Calif.).April 4-8
– Michelle Carew Classic.2. Mission Viejo (Calif.)2016 record:
Troy Ybarra and Toni MascarenasEnrollment:
Players to Watch
- Camryn Ybarra
, the senior infielder has signed with Oregon State. She was named MaxPreps National Junior Player of the Year, CIF-Southern Section D2 Player of the Year and MaxPreps first team Large School All-American. She led the Diablos in average (.514), home runs (12), hits (54), on-base percentage (.617) and runs scored (33).
- Terra McGowan
, the sophomore catcher has committed to Arizona State. The MaxPreps Underclass All-American split time at catcher and outfield. She led Mission Viejo with 33 RBI, and was second in average (.402), home runs (10) and runs (24).
- Kyra Snyder
, the senior pitcher has signed with Louisville. She was named all-CIF Southern Section D2 first team. Snyder won 17 games and batted .373.Other signees: Samantha Dees
(Bowling Green), Bella Loya
(Illinois) and Allison Rawls
(William Jewel).Committed players: Peyton Cody
(St. John's), Olivia Viggiano
(Seattle), Taylor Ward
(Presbyterian College) and Taylor Deden
(Delaware).Diablos story lines
The Diablos lost only three seniors from last year's 27-4 team that won the CIF-Southern Section D2 title. They ended the season ranked No. 9 nationally.
They return eight of their first nine batters with a goal to out-hit the 2016 section title-winning team.
Camryn Ybarra is coming off a stellar year. Her 12 home runs in the lead off position are huge. Snyder pitched the quarterfinal, semifinal and the CIF championship game.
And there is pitching depth as Snyder won't be alone with juniors Taylor Ward and Hailey Johnston
getting innings. Ybarra quotes
"We have six seniors this year ... the most since I have been at Mission for 17 years. With eight juniors, it brings maturity to the table which you need in crunch time."
"We do not have a lot of speed on the bases. We do lack that stolen base needed to put pressure on the defense. So we will have to rely on productive outs."
"What's funny is that on paper our 2016 team did not compare to our 30-1 2015 team. Of course, our one loss in 2015 was the CIF Final. But in 2016, we won it all and 2017 will be just like 2016. If a ball spins our way, then it will be our day, otherwise we match up to several programs and should be an exciting season."Key datesMarch 9-10-11
– Tournament of Champions (Bullhead, Ariz.).March 23
– hosts No. 1 Los Alamitos (Calif.).April 1
– No. 12 LaHabra (Calif.).April 5-8
– Michelle Carew Classic.3. West Orange (Winter Garden, Fla.) 2016 record:
30-1, state 9A championState classification:
4,285Players to watch
- Lauren Mathis
, senior pitcher was named Florida Miss Softball 2016. Mathis allowed just three earned runs in 142 innings. She has signed with Georgia.
- Lexie Blair
, junior outfielder has committed to Michigan. she was First Team All-State and had team leading .565 batting average and 44 RBI.
- Maggie Wheless
, senior catcher has signed with Northwest Florida State College. In 2016, she batted .411, slugged .857 and led team with six homers.
- Morgan Arcia
, senior first baseman batted .370 and knocked in 31 runs. She has signed with Daytona State.
- Amanda Fleming
, senior middle infielder committed just one error last season. She drove in six runs in seven playoff games. She is a Furman signee.
- Haley Penrose
, senior outfielder has signed with Florida State College of Jacksonville.Warrior story lines
It all starts with pitcher Mathis, who was State Player of the Year and MaxPreps All-American after winning 25 of 26 games, posting a 0.15 ERA and striking out two batters per innings. Opponents collected just 36 hits off Mathis in 138 innings.
Add Blair, Wheless, Arcia, Fleming and Penrose and the stage is set for another impressive run. The Warriors have speed, hitting, pitching and defense.
A year ago, the Warriors stole 95 bases and and amassed 90 extra-base hits: 65 doubles, 12 triples and 13 home runs. Those numbers could go up. On defense, the Warriors never allowed more than five runs in a game (twice).
They will enter the season with a 23-game winning streak after finish 2016 ranked No. 5 in the final rankings. LaNeave quotes
"Leadership is a strength. We have seniors who have been successful in previous seasons and know what it takes to compete at a State Championship level."
"We'll be looking for some younger players to step up to solidify the defense and provide some run production."
"We look similar to previous teams in work ethic, leadership and chemistry. The girls have been working hard in the offseason and are ready to compete in the 2017 season."Key datesFeb 15
– at Timber Creek (Orlando, Fla.) – 2016 regional finalistFeb 17
– at Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) – District game and 2016 regional semifinal rematchMarch 2
– host Apopka (Fla.) – District rivalMarch 4
– host No. 13 Oakleaf (Orange Park, Fla.) – 2016 regional finalistMarch 14
– host Wewahitchka (Fla.) – 2016 state runner-up4. Norco (Calif.)2016 record:
2,226Players to watch
- Taylor Dockins
, senior pitcher who has signed with Fullerton. She had 75 wins in three varsity seasons. In her time at Norco High she has earned Big 8 All-League (three times), All-Inland (three times) and All-State (three times). She is a MaxPreps All-American.
- Naomi Hernandez
, senior outfielder has signed with Long Beach State. She led the team in hitting with a .487 batting average, Hernandez also scored 35 runs with 23 RBIs.
- Kinzie Hansen
, sophomore who committed to Oklahoma. She was named 2016 California Freshman of the yeaY. FloSoftball has Hansen ranked as the top prospect in the class of 2019. Hansen hit .426 with seven home runs and a team-high 37 RBIs. Hansen also drew 18 walks during the season, giving her an on-base percentage of .525.
- Mikayla Allee
, junior shortstop has committed to Tennessee.Other Cougars of note: Gianna Marquecho
, Toni Camarillo
(Bryant University), Bianca Gonzalez
(West Point), Sierra Marshall
(LMU), and sophomore Reagan Cheyne
, Paige Smith
(Mississippi) and Megan Forbes
.Cougar story lines
Everyone returns from last year's 26-6 team that had no seniors. Dockins is recovering from liver cancer surgery she had during the summer. According to coach Robinson, "she is throwing and looks good at this time but she has to have scans every three months to make sure it doesn't return."
The Cougars have a good mix of power and speed and can score runs with the long ball or by manufacturing runs.Robinson quotes
"This year's team is very similar to my 2012 team that won the Southern Section title. We have a down ball pitcher with solid defense and have offense production from the top 11 lines hitters."
"We return our entire team from last year and they have another year of maturity." Key datesFeb. 27
– Etiwanda Tournament.March 9-11
– Bullhead (Ariz.) TOC.March 28
– at defending CIF-SS D1 champion Mater Dei.April 5-8
– Michelle Carew Tournament5. Keller (Texas)2016 record:
32-7, state 6A champsState classification:
3,000Players to watch
- Camryn Woodall
, senior infielder has signed with Utah after hitting .504 in 2016. She was the District 5-6A MVP and had 59 hits, 42 runs and 35 RBIs in 39 games.
- Kasey Simpson
, junior who can play anywhere has committed to Iowa State. As a sophomore she hit .471, scored 46 runs, had 38 RBIs, 14 doubles, seven triples and five home runs.
- Caraline Woodall
, sophomore outfielder has committed to Indiana. She batted .345 and drove in 22 runs.
- Amanda Desario
, sophomore outfielder has committed to Texas Tech after leading the Indians in hits (64) and stolen bases (38). Desario hit .492, tied for the team lead in runs scored (46) and drove in 31 runs.
- Kourtney Williams
, versatile senior has signed with North Texas. She scored 40 runs, knocked in 22 and batted .331 in 2016.
- Courtney Cagle
, junior catcher has pledged with UT-Pan-Am.
- Hanna Jones
, junior outfielder has committed to Harding after hitting .406.Indians story lines
If pitching comes through, the final day of the season (state championship) will again be a happy one. The Indians can hit for power and average, run and play defense. They have eight players signed or committed to colleges and two freshmen infielders (Riley Love
and Brooke Davis
) who already have been offered next level opportunities.
Filling the loss of all-state pitcher Kaylee Rogers (29-5) is the key. Rogers, now at Eastern New Mexico University, pitched all but 35 innings last season.Poehler quotes
"I feel this may be one of, if not the best, offensive teams I've coached. We are so fast, powerful and sound all the way through the lineup. Pitchers will have a tough time no matter what part of the lineup is coming up. Defensively, I feel we have one of the fastest outfields ... very little drops in. In the infield, we have speed, agility and great fundamentals that contribute to very little getting by. I would put my outfield up against almost any in the country in terms of speed."Key datesFeb. 14
– season opener at Hebron (Carrollton, Tex.)Feb. 16-18
– Bryan Tournament at College StationFeb. 21
– at No. 19 Birdville (Tex.)April 24
– at Centennial of Burleson (29-5 in 2016)6. Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.)2016 record:
30-4, CIF-Southern Section D1 runner upState classification:
D1 Head coach:
1,400Players to watch
- Maddy Dwyer
, senior pitcher signed with Stanford after 26-4 season. A MaxPreps All-American, she was named the Orange County Register's Pitcher of the Year after winning 26 games and pitching a dozen shutouts.
- Noelle Hee
, the senior first baseman has signed with Washington. She has earned the Trinity League MVP award and twice been named to the Orange County Register's All-Area team. In three seasons, she combined for a .398 batting average, 580 slugging percentage and .982 fielding percentage.
- Ciara Briggs
, sophomore outfielder has committed to LSU. She batted .387, knocked in 33 RBIs, ripped 23 extra base hits and was the lone freshman named to All-Area Orange County team.
- Lauren Espalin
, senior catcher is a Cal commit. She finished the season with a .333 average, 32 RBIs and threw out better than 50 percent of base runners.
- Jenah Tittle
, senior outfielder who has signed with Vanguard University.
Committed players include Mya Rodriguez
(Ohio State), Kira La Scola
(Dartmouth) and Isabelle Valdez
(Vanguard).Lancers story lines
With three key seniors – pitcher Dwyer, catcher Espalin and first baseman Hee – leading the way Orange looks poised for another CIF-Southern Section title run. There is plenty of experience back from last year's title team with 14 players returning. Add two noteworthy newcomers (freshman Victoria Fragoso
and Taryn Lennon
) and depth will not be an issue.
Dwyer, Hee, Espalin and sophomore Briggs all are clutch performers. The bigger the moment, the better they respond.Miklos quotes
"On paper this should be the best team that I've coached at Orange Lutheran. The real question is how we gel as a team as team chemistry will be the key to our success this season. We definitely have the pitching, which is critical, and some pretty good players. It should be a fun season."
"Not sure we have any real weaknesses with this group, only questions that need to be answered during our preseason. Offensively, we have a lot of hitters, but who will win out at second and third base positions will be a battle among some pretty good players."Key datesFeb. 27
– season opening Upland TournamentMarch 9-11
– Mojave Tournament of ChampionsApril 4-7
– Michelle Carew ClassicApril 11
– at Mater Dei, defending CIF-SS D1 champion7. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) 2016 record:
2,800Players to watch
- Brooke Langston
, a slap hitter who has signed with Tennessee, batted .433 as a junior.
- Hannah Sipos
, who has committed to Florida, batted .483 and accounted for 61 runs a year ago.
- Maya Rodriguez
, who has signed with Caldwell, drove in 31 runs and batted .370.
- Jordyn Griffith
batted .438 as a freshman with 18 extra base hits and 34 RBIs.
- Olivia Saviskas
, senior was 6-1 with 0.92 ERA and struck out 62 batters in 45 innings. She allowed just 14 base hits. She has signed with Lynn.Patriots story lines
Patriots were the only team to beat 9A champion 30-1 West Orange, 1-0. They also beat 5A champion Coral Springs Charter, 1-0. Those two teams are loaded and highly ranked, but the Patriots are poised for another impressive season, having lost only two seniors.
Though they lost ace pitcher Madison Canby, American Heritage could be better. They return eight of their top nine hitters on a team that batted .399 and eight players drove in 10 or more runs. And the eight returnees combined to commit just eight errors in 28 games.
Picking up the slack for the graduated Canby will be sisters Olivia and Amelia Saviskas
, who combined to go 7-1 with 77 strikeouts in 58 innings. Combined, they allowed just 18 hits Cooper quote
"We lost our No. 1 pitcher from last year, but will be strong in the circle again. All of our players play on high level travel teams and have a lot of game experience."Key datesFeb. 15
– season opener hosting Coconut Creek (Fla.)March 3
– St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), one of two teams to beat the Patriots in 2016March 10
– at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.), one of two teams to beat the Patriots in 20168. Grand Terrace (Calif.)2016 record: 29-1, CIF-Southern Section D3 championState classification:
2,200Players to watch
- Eliyah Flores
, despite being pitched around last season, Flores hit eight home runs and drove in 27 with a .451 batting average. In the last two seasons, she has led the team in runs scored and has stolen 14-of-14 bases. She was a Sunkist League MVP and has been chosen All-Area and All-County each of the last three seasons. She has signed with Oklahoma.
- Yesenia Morrison
, who has signed with Grand Canyon, was an All-State pitcher despite taking a back seat to All-American Mel Olmos. Morrison went 11-0 with a 0.52 ERA and nine saves, striking out 102 in 81 innings while only allowing 22 hits and seven runs (six earned). Grand Terrace won the CIF-SS D-3 title, lost only once and finished No. 2 nationally.
- Alyssa Martinez
signed with Mississippi after hitting .379, driving in 23 and scoring 22.
- Lilly Bishop
, who has signed with North Carolina State, transferred to Grand Terrace from Arlington and made an immediate impact. She led the team with a .512 batting average and 35 RBIs.
- Morgan Parsons
, who has signed with Hawaii, slugged .606, hit .348 and drove in 22 runs a year ago.
- Alyssa Graham
, a junior has committed to San Jose State. She had 16 extra base hits and 21 RBIs last season.
- Alycia Flores
, a sophomore, has committed to Oklahoma after batting .375 last year.
- Alexis Lemus
, a junior has committed to Connecticut. Though she had just 29 at bats, she had 20 hits, four homers and 16 RBIs.Titan story lines
The Titans lost four starters to the college ranks from last year's CIF-SS D3 title-winning team. That might worry most coaches, but the Titans just reload. They enter the season with a starting lineup of players who have signed or committed to colleges.
They return players who combined for 33 home runs and seven players who drove in a dozen or more runs. Their leading hitter for average (Bishop, .512) and power Eliyah Flores
(eight homers) return. Their top five run producers also return.
While they lost All-American Mel Olmos to Oklahoma, senior Morrison went 11-0 with a 0.52 ERA and had 102 strikeouts in 81 innings as a junior. The most base hits she allowed in any single outing was four.
The Titans won their final 26 games of 2016 and should pick up where they left off, despite being moved from D3 to D1. The lone loss a year ago was 1-0 to Great Oak. The Titans finished 2016 ranked No. 2.Flores quotes
"Not to sound arrogant. But I think we have all three areas: Pitching, hitting and defense. The only thing that we will have to keep an eye on this season is our pitching depth. We have a very strong pitcher, but our backup after Yesenia is a freshman coming in with great potential but no big game experience. So we will bring her in as much as we can to get her ready and do everything we can to get here ready to pitch on the big stage if needed."Key dates March 8
– host Redondo Union, the team Grand Terrace beat (5-2) to win the 2016 CIF-SS D3 championshipMarch 13-18
– Redlands TournamentApril 5-7
– Michele Carew Classic9. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) 2016 Record:
31-7, D1 state championsState classification:
3,700Players to watch
- Bella Loomis
, the Arizona State signee had 18 extra base hits and scored 42 times while hitting .435. She was first team all-state.
- Taylor Gindlesperger
, first-team All-State sophomore batted .486 and is committed to Indiana.
- Ali Ashner
, sophomore outfielder batted .477 and received All-State mention. She is headed to Auburn.
- Madison Seigworth
, sophomore pitcher hurled a shutout in state title game. The Butler pledge was 12-3 with a 1.65 ERA and averaged better than a strikeout per inning and was honorable mention All-State.
- Abby Andersen
, junior pitcher/outfielder was 6-1and batted .349. She has committed to Arizona State.
- Macy Simmons
, sophomore catcher batted .358 and has committed to Auburn.
- Natalie Montgomery
, senior pitcher was 5-0 and signed with Seattle University.
- Nikki Gonzales
, senior infielder has signed with Western New Mexico. Huskies story lines
For starters, four big hitters and trio of pitchers return for the defending state champions. Eight players have signed or verbal to play collegiately and three more or close to making decisions. Coach Parra says his team "deserves national recognition."
The Huskies batted .397 as a team a year ago and ended season on a nine-game winning streak.
Eight newcomers will battle for playing time. Parra said, "combined, they bring power, speed, toughness and a desire to be the best they can be. All can contribute to our program."Parra quotes
"The team motto is our strength: Team First, Process Always, Family Forever. That, plus the fact that we have pitching, hitting (power and short), speed, great defense and a desire to get better every day."Key datesMarch 3
– host Pinnacle (Phoenix) rematch of 2016 D1 state title gameMarch 9-11
– Mojave Tournament of ChampionsMarch 14-18
– Desert Mountain Tournament10. Huntington Beach (Calif.)2016 Record:
2,910Players to watch
- Ivy Davis
, senior shortstop and pitcher has signed with Arizona after batting .375 and earning all-league honors.
- Allee Bunker
, junior infielder has signed with Oregon after hitting .419 and earning all-league honors.
- Jadelyn Allchin
, sophomore outfielder batted .418 and was named all-league. She has pledged to Washington.
- Jaelyn Operana
, sophomore batted .316 and has committed to Tennessee.
- Kelli Kufta
, junior first baseman batted .310.Oilers story lines
The Oilers have the second most signed or committed players in southern California on one roster with nine. In addition to the aforementioned four, others include Chance Burden
, (Oregon State), Janie Hammond
(Belmont), Madison Germano
(Binghamton), and Valerie Rudd
(Abilene Christian). And expect two to three more to sign or commit by the time the season ends.
Forsberg certainly will have a lot to work with, especially in the circle.
Sophomore pitcher Morgan MacBeath
transferred from Fountain Valley, where she posted a 1.83 ERA and struck out 107 batters. She'll battle Davis (8-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 2016), sophomore Operana and freshman Grace Uribe
for innings.Forsberg quotes
"Offensively, we have a mixture of speed, power and contact."
"We have four pitchers and will need one to step up and carry us. First time with multiple true pitchers on the roster. All with high ceilings, they just need experience.Key datesMarch 4
– Best of the West TournamentMarch 30
– at No. 1 Los AlamitosApril 5-8
– Michelle Carew ClassicApril 21-22
– Arroyo Grande TournamentApril 25
– No. 1 Los Alamitos11. Deer Park (Texas) 2016 record:
Carrie AustgenPlayers to watch
UT-San Antonio signee Madison Nelson
(15-1, 1.79) is back, along with Texas Tech recruit Erin Edmoundson
(.386, 28 RBIs), Ashlyn Wade
(37 RBIs in 23 games), Maleah Olvera
(.396, 29 RBIs), Alyssa Hernandez
(.323, 24 RBIs), Sara Vanderford
(.421) and Amaya Montano
(.375 with 45 runs scored). Quoteable
"On paper we have all the puzzle pieces that can spell out to a team like the 2012 (state champions) with only three seniors," said Austgen. "We also have incoming freshmen who are talented. We have some predictions as to where they will help us. One thing for sure, is we will have depth at many positions." 12. La Habra (Calif.) 2016 record:
Top players to watch
The top two pitchers – Hannah Johnson
(Fullerton State signee) and Janelle Rodriguez
– return along with Utah recruit Alyssa Palacios
(she batted .393) and outfielder Billie Wells
, who has signed with Idaho State.
The Highlanders won their third-straight Freeway League championship in 2016 and are favored the make it four in a row.13. Oakleaf (Orange Park, Fla.)2016 record:
27-3 Head coach:
Oakleaf graduated two seniors and all nine starters are back. Eleven players have signed or committed to next level (six D1). Pitching is deep. Coach Thompson says, "This years team is 100 percent the best team Oakleaf has had. I believed them to be the best team in our school history last year, but now with our new additions and another year of growth/maturity under our belt, we are even stronger."Top players to watch
Senior pitcher Kelsey Sweatt
(USC Upstate signee) and 8A pitcher of the year with a a 15-3 mark, 0.87 ERA and 208 strikeouts), sophomore Madi Davis
, (Troy State pledge was 8-0). Hitting should be deeper than last year's team average of .376 with eight returning starters batting .300 or higher.
Other signees or commits include: Senior catcher Haley Willis
(Pensacola State College), senior infielder Alex Acevedo
(Florida Atlantic University), senior infielder Mika Garcia
(University of West Florida), senior outfielder Tracey Ferguson
(Pensacola State), senior outfielder Jenna Curtis
(Lake Sumter State), senior outfielder Baylee Stewart
(South Georgia State), junior utility Rebecca Koskey
(Florida International University pledge), sophomore Baylee Goddard
(Florida commit) and transfer junior Angela Agurkis
(Florida Atlantic University).14. Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) 2016 record:
Tommy OrndorfTop players to watchPatty Maye Ohanian
, who signed with Virginia and after transferring from Lake Braddock, set single-season school records with 63 hits and nine home runs. She also tallied 57 RBIs, scored 46 runs scored, and hit 10 doubles and five triples. A first team All-State player, she is joined by All-State selections Caitlin Jorae
(batted .452), Kathryn Sandercock
(fanned 211 in 144 innings), Leah Hammes
(batted .385) and all-leaguers Kayla Turner
(batted .337), Elizabeth Hoeymans
, Julia Jones
and Sophia Rzonca
Sandercock (James Madison signee) was named to the USA Junior Women's National Training Team.
Coach Orndorf, who has coached four-straight state titles and 20 overall at O'Connell, says this should be one of his best teams ever. "We should be very, very good."15. Oak Park-River Forest (Oak Park, Ill.) 2016 record:
37-2, state 4A championsHead coach:
Mel KolbuszPlayers to watchChardonnay Harris
(signed with Auburn and has a two-year record of 38-5 with 355 strikeouts in 228 innings) and Maeve Nelson
, a Northwestern commit who batted .492, homered 10 times and scored 49 runs as the Huskies (37-2) set a school record for wins.
With Harris, who was named state 4A Player of the Year, powering her way on the mound the Huskies won their final 27 games and a state title. They finished No. 13 in the final 2016 Xcellent Softball Rankings.
16. Keystone (La Grange, Ohio)2016 record:
28-5, state 3A runners up.Head coach:
Jim PiazzaPlayers to watch
Senior pitcher Lauren Shaw
(University of Iowa recruit), senior infielder Sammie Stefan
(University of Maryland signee), senior outfielder Paige Hartley
(signed with Cleveland State) and senior hitter Madi Cendrosky
(Cleveland State recruit).
Coach Jim Piazza said "team depth, experience and strength of our schedule are team strengths."17. Lakewood (Hebron, Ohio) 2016 record:
29-0, state 2A championHead coach:
Criss NadolsonPlayers to watch
All-staters Courtney Vierstra
and Brenna Brownfield
lead the way. Verstra, a Miami University signee, went 21-0 with a 0.69 ERA, leading Lakewood to its fourth state championship. She was voted Licking County League-Buckeye Division Player of the Year. Kent State signee Brownfield hit over .500 with eight home runs and 57 RBIs and was named first team 3A all-state.
Lakewood, which finished 2016 ranked No. 3 in the Xcellent rankings, enters the season riding a 29-game win streak and owners of 46 wins in their last 47 games.18. O'Connor (Phoenix, Ariz.)2016 record:
Melissa HobsonPlayers to watch
Senior Hayley Busby
(Virginia signee), not only hit .528 with 67 hits, 43 runs scored, 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 70 RBIs on a 29-win DI team, but she also was named Arizona's Gatorade Player of the Year. Also back are junior and Oklahoma recruit Grace Lyons
(.467, 23 extra base hits, 49 runs scored), and senior infielder Savanna Avilla
(a Virginia signee who hit .496 a year ago). Add .300-plus hitters Brooke Brewer
, Madison Westmoreland
, Kirsten Norris
and Amber Brewer
and the Eagles have a lot of fire power. Senior pitcher Emma Vesely
(UNLV signee) has shared the load for three seasons, but should be in the spotlight. In a combined 256 innings, she has combined for a 16-3 record and a 2.87 ERA over her previous three seasons.
O'Connor lost only one starter from a 2016 team that won 29 games and batted .371 and scored 302 runs. 19. Birdville (North Richland Hills, Texas)2016 record:
John LovePlayers to watch
Sophomore pitcher Grace Green
(committed to Oregon,) earned All-State recognition and was the District 6-5A Pitcher of the Year. She was 21-5 with a 1.42 ERA and 229 strikeouts in 157 innings and hit .418 with 12 doubles, six triples and 27 RBIs. Calie Burris
(Abilene Christian pledge) was named the District 6-5A MVP for the second straight season as she hit 10 home runs with 49 RBIs while hitting .417. Third baseman Elena Garcia
returns after batting .511, while adding 43 runs, 32 RBIs and 29 extra base hits. Adding extra offense are Maygan Paul
(.307) and Gianna Valforte
(.393).20. Pioneer (San Jose, Calif.)2016 record:
Ed BarclayPlayers to watchHolly Azevedo
(UCLA signee) is back for her senior season. That makes Pioneer a threat to run the table. She was 25-3 with an 0.18 and 334 strikeouts in 191 innings as a junior and had 17 shutouts. She also batted .482 with 20 RBIs. With only one senior on last year's team, Azevedo has a lot of support this season. Also back are sophomore Sydney Solis
(four homers, 28 RBIs and .376 batting average), seniors Brooke Niewoehner
(.489 average and 25 RBIs), Lauren Garcia
(.375 hitting, 21 RBIa) and junior Makaylah Garcia
(.329). In 28 games, Pioneer committed just 10 errors.21. Plano West (Plano, Texas) 2016 record:
Mike LedsomePlayers to watch
Senior pitchers Sierra Lange
(South Dakota recruit) and Mikaela Gilliam
(Stephen F. Austin signee) are attention-grabbers. Lange, who played for the Philippines National Team last summer, was District 6-6A MVP with a 20-3 record and a 0.56 ERA. She came within one out of pitching Plano West to a series win over eventual state champion Keller in the regional quarterfinals. Lange struck out 270 and allowed only 13 earned runs in 163 innings. She also led Plano West in batting average (.380) and ranked second in runs scored (29). Gilliam hit .376 and was 8-2 with 1.33 ERA.22. Alexandria (La.)2016 record:
30-4, state 5A championsHead coach:
Erica HarwellPlayers to watch
Senior Taryn Antoine
(LSU recruit batted .484 and stole 26 bags), junior Briahna Bennett
(the Lady Trojans' No. 2 pitcher went 12-2 and hit 13 home runs, with 38 RBIs and slugged .810), senior Carrie Boswell
(signed with UL Lafayette after winning 18-of-20 games while batting .443 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs), senior Ella Manzer
(Southeastern Louisiana signee had a .330 average and six home runs), and junior Caroline Manzer
, who recorded 24 RBIs and scored 31 runs in 2016.23. Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.)2016 Record:
50-16, state 7A championHead coach:
Dale PalmerPlayers to watch
The pitching combination of Kailey Stoker
(Belmont signee) and Lily Calvert
are tough to beat. Stoker compiled 22-7 record (earned a win in four state championship tournament games) with 90 strikeouts and 1.24 ERA. Stoker was first team All-State and Calvert received honorable mention. The Senators have three other All-State performers returning – Auburn signee MacKenzie Nutt
(who hit .444 with 12 homers, 76 RBIs, 17 doubles, five triples and 18 stolen bases), MaxPreps Underclass All-American TJ Webster
(who had a team best .451 average, 58 steals, 65 runs and 24 walks) and junior outfielder Taylor Davis
(who batted .440 with 31 steals, 59 runs and team-best 77 hits). Add seniors Haley Cope
(UAH), Savannah Hayes
(Northern Alabama) and Courtney McFarland
(Martin Methodist) and Sparkman is loaded.
Sparkman won its fourth title in five years in 2016 and with a pair of standout pitchers and plenty of offense returning from that team, another state trophy is within reach.24. Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.)2016 record:
Jeff PortwoodPlayers to watch
Junior pitcher Kennedy Sullivan
(Western Kentucky pledge was 26-2 with 0.84 and 298 strikeouts and batted .363), junior shortstop Hannah Davis
(Marshall commit after hitting .500 with 42 RBIs), junior catcher Princess Valencia
(verbal to Morehead State University after hitting .389), senior Halie Fain
(University Tennessee-Martin recruit batted .440 and scored 46 runs), and senior Jessi Tucker
batted .355 and signed with University Southern Indiana.
Others who have signed are Madison Moss
(Asbury University), Cece Wittry
(Transylvania University) and transfer Megan Murphy
, who has committed to Morehead State University. As a junior, Murphy led the state with 28 doubles, while hitting .453 and recording 35 RBIs and a .527 on-base percentage. On the mound, she struck out 184 batters while putting together a 1.47 ERA. It might not take Scott County to improve on its No. 22 national ranking of 2016.
Portwood said, "I believe our team strengths will be pitching, hitting and experience with six returning players being on both state championship teams In 2014 and 2016)."25. St. Mary Catholic Central (Monroe, Mich.)2016 record:
28-5, state D3 champion (2015, 2016)Head coach:
John Morningstar Players to watch
Senior Meghan Beaubien
, who has lead the team to back-to-back state D3 titles, has signed with Michigan. She is arguably one of the top half-dozen pitchers either side of the Rockies. As she goes, so go the Kestrels. Morningstar says he's never seen anyone better than his lefty. She is a two-time Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year (2015-16), and a three-time Michigan first team all-state selection. Over the last two seasons, she has posted a 58-4 record with a 0.35 ERA and 851 strikeouts through 384 innings, an average of 2.2 strikeouts per inning. Add Kenna Garst
(committed to Eastern Michigan), who led the Kestrels with eight homers and handles Beaubien behind the plate, and junior pitcher Kelsey Barron
(who is being heavily recruited at the D2 and NAIA levels and plays shortstop and outfielder, slaps and hits with power) and the Kestrels are more than a one-player team.
In last year's state D3 state tournament, Beaubien pitched perfect games in the semifinal and championship game as the Kestrels repeated. She was 25-1 with 394 strikeouts and allowed 10 earned runs during the season. Her lone loss was 1-0 to Mercy (Farmington, Mich.) the state large-school champion. Mercy finished the year ranked No. 14.26. Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.)CC Cook
(Boston College signee) is the key for Pinnacle. She was named sectional Player of the Year and the PVUSD District MVP. A 2016 All-Arizona performer, Cook led Pinnacle to its first-ever state championship game when she won 18 games with a 0.85 ERA and 237 strikeouts. She'll have plenty of help this season as Arizona pledge Marissa Schuld
(11-5, 1.37 ERA, 145 strikeouts in 107 innings, 32 RBIs, .380 batting average), and three .380-plus hitters – Arizona pledge Jessica Mabrey
, Jackie Kelley
and Massachusetts pledge Nicole Amodio
– also return.
27. Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.)
Three senior starters graduated, but junior All-American pitcher Danielle Williams
(Missouri commit) is back and that makes Amador Valley a contender every time she is in the circle. She tossed eight no-hitters, had an ERA of 0.53 and struck out 245 batters in 144 innings as a sophomore. She also batted .458 as the Dons went 21-5. Amador Valley will rely heavily on Williams, as they return only one other hitter who batted over .300 – senior Jessica Emde
(UC-Santa Barbara signee), who batted .347.28. East Carter (Grayson, Ky.)
With Montana Fouts
in the circle, East Carter has a chance to beat any team. The Alabama commit and MaxPreps National Sophomore Player of the Year led the Raiders to a deep playoff run and a 37-2 record as she recorded a 33-2 mark with 479 strikeouts in 221 innings. She had a 0.48 ERA, allowed just 42 hits and pitched 24 shutouts with a nation-leading 14 no-hitters. Fouts, who was named the Gatorade State POY winner and State 2A POY, pitched nine perfect games. She also batted .446 with six homers and 50 RBIs. She was the lone underclassman who was a finalist for 2016 National Player of the Year.
Other key returnees include juniors Eden Mayo
, Madison Sparks
, Gracie Robinson
and Taylor Jackson
, seniors Caitlyn Tabor
and sophomore Lindsay Holmes
. Sparks, Mayo, and Jackson all batted over .400.29. Willis (Texas)
The Wildkats went 31-4 and reached the state 5A quarterfinals before losing. And they did so with a senior-less lineup. Everyone is back from a team that hit 29 home runs, batted .352 and scored 260 times. Top hitters are juniors McKenzie Parker
(.559 batting average, nine homers and 62 base hits) and Samara Lagway
(seven homers and a .367 batting average). They also field .955 as a team, committing less than one error per outing. Their strength, however, is pitching: Casey Dixon
(Louisiana Lafayette signee) was 25-2 with 311 strikeouts and a 1.13 ERA in 166 innings and Texas State pledge Lagway (6-1, 0.95 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 44 innings).30. Lake Region (Eagle Lake, Fla.)
Pitchers Mary Haff
(Arkansas), Jordan Barnes
(Daytona State) and Brandice Boatwright
(Mississippi Valley State) are back after leading the Thunder to a 25-3 season. All three losses were one-run events, including 1-0 in the state 7A title game. They combined to limit opponents to a .140 batting average and gave up just 22 runs (14 earned). And they averaged nearly 1.5 strikeouts per inning. What's missing? They were also the only three players to bat over .300 for a team that compiled a .254 batting average. 31. Sumiton Christian (Sumiton, Ala.)
The big three are back – Kamree Lay
(West Alabama), Kendall Beth Sides
(Alabama) and Jenna Ergle
(Boston College). The latter two are three-time MaxPreps All-Americans who have put up monumental numbers. Sides was named the class 2A Player of the Year in 2016 and was her high school's offensive MVP. She holds national-career records in runs scored and stolen bases. Ergle is a three-time first team All-State and Alabama Super State honoree. She was named MaxPreps 2014 National High School Freshman Softball Player of the Year. She set the national RBI record as a freshman in 2014 (127) and has 336 over the last three season. Lay was 43-4 with a 1.59 ERA and 372 strikeouts in 209 innings.32. Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.)
Senior Danielle Watson
(Louisville signee) led the Kingsman to the state D4 title game and lost 4-3. It was the only game in the postseason when she allowed more than one hit. Her motivation is high, as is that of key returnees Katie Quinlan
(.481 average, 37 runs), Louisville recruit Madelynn Newman
(.382 average) and MacKenzie Griman
(.390 average). Watson, who was 21-3, lost three times by one-run margins. 33. Ooltewah (Tenn.)
The Owls went 41-6 last year, but didn't reach the state final 16. With eight of nine starters back, look for that to change. Key returnees are Mississippi pledge Kayla Boseman
(.589 average with 89 RBIs and 43 extra base hits, including 21 home runs), Mabry Carpenter
(.420 average, 45 RBIs), Aubbie Collake
(.387 average, 40 RBIs), Shelby Sutton
(.412 hitter, 56 runs) and Tyler Sullivan
(47 RBIs). Boseman also pitches: 19-4 with a 2.04 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 127 innings. 34. Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.)
Pitcher Olivia Sprofera
(Providence recruit) is back as are Connecticut signee Reese Guevarra
(NJ.Com Hitter of the Year with a .495 average and 44 runs scored), and Reagan Jones
(.321 batting average). Sprofera was 23-1 with 259 strikeouts and allowed nine earned runs (0.37 ERA). Immaculate Heart lost its second game of the season, 4-3, then ran the table to another state title. The Blue Eagles finished 2016 with a 30-game win streak and a No. 11 national ranking. Dating back to 2011, the won-loss record is 196-11.35. Crown Point (Ind.)
In winning 28 of 30 games, the Bulldogs allowed just 17 runs last season. Gone to Oregon is perennial All-American Miranda Elish, but the key returnee is senior pitcher Alexis Holloway
(Notre Dame signee). A MaxPreps All-American, she was 13-0 and allowed 33 base hits and struck out 176 in 92 innings. She also batted .398 and drove in 23 runs. Also back are Northwestern pledge Mackenzie Dunlap
(.462, 30 RBIs), Lexi Madrigal
(.351) and Natalie Klingberg
(.316).36. Avon (Ind.)
The Orioles won their final 12 games of the 2016 season, including the state 4A title. Leading a team with 14 returnees will be the Foster sisters – twins Haylie
and younger sister Kamrie
. Sydnie batted .438 and Hailey hit .461 and led the pitching staff with an 1-4 record and a 1.52 ERA. Kamrie, also a senior and 10 months younger than her twin sisters, batted .300. All three have signed to attend Indianapolis University.37. Orange (Hillsborough, N.C.)
In 26 games, MaxPreps All-American Mia Davidson
(state Gatorade winner and Mississippi State signee) drove in 49 runs on 37 base hits in just 50 official plate appearances. She walked 44 times and had an .851 on-base percentage. Despite pitchers working around her, she still managed to hit 18 home runs (a round-tripper in every three at-bats) and scored 57 times. If she doesn't get your attention, Alysann Lloyd
(.388), Mackenzie Bartlett
(.394) and Abigail Hamlett
(.324) will. Senior Kristina Givens
(21-3, 1.37 ERA and a strikeout per inning will lead up the pitching). 38. West (Salt Lake City)
With a combined 35 homers, 45 doubles and 154 RBIs, Breah Ava
and Huntyr Ava
, and Keisha White
give West ample firepower to make another run at the state title. Also back are senior outfielder Rayna Aiono
(who hit 10 homers and batted .538) and sophomore pitcher Kamora Masina
, who was 15-2 last season. The Panthers finished their 28-5 season with a 13-11 loss in the state 5A title game.39. Desert Ridge (Mesa, Ariz.)
Desert Ridge won 25 games last season and are in position to win more this year with the return of senior outfielder Leah Molina
(Utah State signee after hitting .496 and scoring 52 runs as a junior), Texas A&M pledge Shaylee Ackerman
(who won 13 games and had a .475 batting average, 13 home runs and 48 RBI), senior Massachusetts signee Alyssa Lyon
(.386 batting average), Holly Monson
(who batted .385) and senior Sydney Broderick
, who batted .320 and signed with New Mexico.40. Coral Springs Charter (Coral Springs, Fla.)
With Allison Muraskin
(Central Florida signee) back for her senior season, along with five players who batted over .300, the Panthers are poised for a state 5A championship repeat. A year ago, Muraskin struck out 256 and posted a 0.55 ERA in going 23-3. She was the state 5A Player of the Year. Also back are junior Gianna Boccagno
(six homers, 23 RBIs to go with a batting average of .352), sophomore Lindsey Garcia
(.429) and senior Amanda Flynn
(team high 31 base hits).41. Rancho (Las Vegas, Nev.)
The Rams (31-7) lost the state large school title game, but return senior pitcher Samantha Pochop
(19-4, 0.51 ERA and 278 strikeouts in 177 innings) and expect big offense from juniors Gianna Carosone
(.522 hitter with 19 extra base hits), Yvette Sanchez
(.389 batting average) and sophomore Lili Gutierrez
(a .339 hitter). 42. Hempfield Area (Greensburg, Pa.)
Led by Notre Dame recruit and state 4A Player of the Year Morgan Ryan
, the Spartans won the 2016 state large school title and finished 25-2 with a 14-game winning streak. Ryan was 23-3 with a 1.11 ERA and had 188 strikeouts. Also impressive at the plate, she hit .333 with six home runs and 30 RBIs. She'll have support with Madi Stoner
(Hillsdale signee), who batted .519 and drove in 31 runs, Jenna Osikowicz
(Seton Hall recruit) and Kara Cook
.43. Kingwood (Texas)
Junior pitcher Madison Lindsey
(Baylor commit) went 29-6 with a 1.21 ERA as Kingwood (34-8) reached the state semifinals last season. This year's offense will be supplied by Alicia DeLeon
(Lamar pledge), Brooke Johnson
, Lauren Kuhrt
, and Jenna Bleiberg
(University of Incarnate Word).44. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.)
The Lions (30-2-1) had a great run in 2016 and look ready to do it again with the return of Penn recruits Sarah Ketring
and Kayla Ketring
, and Maya Brady
(UCLA commit). Add a trio of youthful pitchers who combined to go 10-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 84 innings.45. D.H. Conley (Greenville, N.C.)
The Vikings went 27-4 and reached the state semifinals in 2016. Wanting more for 2017 are senior pitcher Emily Kirby
(21-4, 1.28 ERA and 221 strikeouts), Cara Davis
(.459 batting average, 40 runs), Grace Cochran
(.432 average with 26 RBIs) and Makenna Matthijs
(.447 average and 27 RBIs). They are hungry and experienced.46. Woodinville (Wash.)
Every starter but one returns from the Falcons' state 4A runner up team that won 21 of 26 games (three losses were by one run). Top returners include Lauryn Rhinehart
(Fairfield University signee), Olivia Riener
(Bowling Green signee), Jordyn Boyd
(Manhattanville signee). Skylar Hein
(St. Louis pledge) and Paige Grover
(Lafayette College pledge). All were all-league, as were teammates Taylor Rhinehart
(Amherst signee) and Megan Taketa
. Riener had a 2.74 ERA last season, and hit .378 with eight homers and 27 RBIs in just 74 at-bats. Newcomers Sierra Hein
and Charlotte Grover
are expected to contribute immediately.47. Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)
The 2016 state large school runners up graduated one starter from last year's 30-4 team. Highlighting this year's returnees are a pair of sophomore pitchers Kasey Widmyer
(All-State selection finished 13-2 with a 0.76 ERA, 92 strikeouts in 92 innings. She also batted .546) and Tatum Arboleda
(All-State selection batted .447 with a .491 on-base percentage, 14 doubles, 22 RBIs and finished 17-2 with a 1.23 ERA). Also back for the youthful Rebels are junior Christa Whitesides
(who batted .384 with nine doubles, 19 RBIs, 28 runs scored), junior Haven Pesce
(who batted .431 with 17 doubles, 46 RBIs, 48 runs), and senior Parker Birch
(who batted .393 with 20 extra base hits, 31 RBIs, and 41 runs scored).48. Mercy (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
The state large school champs (43-2) graduated just three and return two teammates who made the MHSAA record book last season – senior Sophie Van Acker
(Lehigh signee) with 82 hits and junior Anna Dixon
with 72. The team's 510 hits were second-most in MHSAA history and only two off the record. And with so many returnees that mark could be in jeopardy in 2017. Mercy concluded the 2016 season ranked No. 14 nationally.49. Alhambra (Martinez, Calif.)
The Bulldogs lost three seniors (one regular) from last year's squad that batted .433 and scored 292 runs in 26 games. The returning players combined to steal 142 bases. They fielded .962, averaging less than an error per game. The key returnees include UCLA-bound Bri Perez
and future Cal Bear Karlee Sparacino
. The two seniors combined to hit over .615, drive in 97 runs, score 107 times, stole 43 bases and had 38 extra base hits. Other seniors who are back are St. Mary's signee Kimiko Zapanta
(38 stolen bases, 42 runs and a .481 batting average), Regan Silva
(.384), Miranda Nilson
(.408 hitter with 26 RBIs) and Morgan Azevedo
(.388 batting average). Add junior Lindsey Osmer
(.411) and last year's 300 runs might be eclipsed. But the Bulldogs lost two-thirds of their pitching to graduation and junior Briana Edwards
(6-0 with a 1.89) will carry the load this season. The offense is there, but to repeat as CIF-North Coast Section D2 champions, pitching will be a key for the Bulldogs who won their final 14 games last season.50. Eagle (Idaho)
The defending MaxPreps mythical national champions (29-0) lost a lot (four players to the college ranks) from their back-to-back title teams, Leading the way will be four seniors who have signed – Autumn Moffat
(signed with BYU), Hailey Fisher
(Weber State), Rachel Menlove
(Portland State) and Kelly Kukla
(University of Colorado Colorado Springs). All four are four-year varsity starters and combined for 30 home runs with batting averages .430 and above. Moffatt was a MaxPreps Underclass All-American after going 15-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 77 innings. She is 29-0 over the last two seasons. Also back are sophomores Noelle Foster
(.385, 41 runs) and Gabi Peters
(Boise State verbal). The Mustangs have lost just once in their last 60 games.