It’d be impressive if one Santa Clarita Valley product was a finalists for the honor of Division 1 National Freshman of the Year. Instead, there are two. Announced late last week, Saugus High graduate Mariah Lopez (University of Oklahoma) and West Ranch High grad Jessie Harper (University of Arizona) were among 25 players still contending for the Schutt Sports’ and the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s top freshman honor. On May 11, the list will be narrowed to 10. Then three will be picked on May 24. The trophy will be awarded on May 31. Arizona is 45-4 on the year, and Harper, recently named her school’s freshman female athlete of the year, is batting .331 with 16 home runs and 39 RBIs. The Wildcats currently sit in first place in the Pac-12 with a 15-3 record. As for Lopez, she last pitched Sunday in a 4-3 loss to Baylor. She tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out two and walking none. As of April 21, she had a 13-1 record with a 1.75 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched. The Sooners are 41-8 on the year and 11-1 in the Big 12, good for a first-place tie with Oklahoma State. The instate rivals are slated for a three-game series beginning May 3 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Valencia’s Ensing reaches new height
Valencia High graduate Kyle Ensing led the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team to its first-ever Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship Saturday at Walter Pyramid in Long Beach. Ensing led the 49ers with 15 kills in a 3-1 win over Hawaii in the tournament final. Game scores were 17-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-23. Ensing also had six digs, two assists and two aces on his way to earning all-tournament team honors. Ensing’s brother Eric, who graduated from Valencia in 2012, is a senior and played in his final game at Walter Pyramid on Saturday. Long Beach State will next play in the semifinals of the National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship at Ohio State University on May 4. The 49ers will play the winner of Barton College of North Carolina and Brigham Young University. As of April 20, Kyle Ensing was second on his team with 323 kills. He was hitting at a .331 percentage with 155 digs and 83 blocks.