Monday’s release of the 2017 All-CIF Southern Section softball teams featured a Foothill League champion, two Division 3 runners-up and one glaring omission. Shea O’Leary, ace pitcher of the Foothill champion Valencia Vikings, was one of two Santa Clarita Valley players named to the Division 1 team. Saugus catcher Cassidy FitzGerald was the other. In Division 3, Hart seniors Abby Sweet and Kylie Norwood were named All-CIF after leading the Indians into extra innings of the D3 title game in Irvine earlier this month.
Hart ultimately lost on a walk-off home run in the eighth. “Yeah, we definitely would have liked to have won that game,” said Sweet, who hit .415 with five home runs and 29 RBIs. “But just getting there was awesome. This award, it doesn’t mean a lot, but it’s cool to see we are finally being recognized for all the hard work we put in all four years.” Valencia catcher Ally Shipman was a spectator at Hart’s CIF final. She was not, however, on the Division 1 team after batting .613 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs. She didn’t strike out in 113 plate appearances. “(It was) very surprising,” Valencia coach Donna Lee said of her junior catcher via text message. “But looking at the list, no team had more than one person. Also, almost all were seniors.” For Valencia, that one player was O’Leary, who struck out a staggering 240 batters in 211 2/3 innings. She pitched five straight shutouts to open Foothill League play and ended the year with an overall 1.22 ERA. “I was kind of speechless, kind of wasn’t suspecting anything,” O’Leary said. FitzGerald, the heart and soul of the Foothill League second-place Centurions, was out of town Monday and had not learned she’d made the team until a reporter told her around 6 p.m. “That’s definitely a surprise. It’s a big surprise,” she said. “… That makes me so excited, being a senior especially. Going out with a bang.” Norwood might have gone out with the area’s biggest bang. The senior infielder, who pitched admirably, but only because her team needed her to, led the Southern Section in hits (64) across all divisions. The CIF also released its All-CIF baseball teams on Monday. A story highlighting the Santa Clarita Valley players honored is planned for Wednesday’s paper.