Valencia softball pair earns Foothill League’s top honors

Valencia catcher Alyssa Shipman, left, and pitcher Shea O'Leary, right, stand in the batting cages at the Vikings' home field on June 9, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal.

Valencia High catcher Ally Shipman never struck out. Valencia pitcher Shea O’Leary struck out every batter she faced.

One statement is hyperbole (though O’Leary did strike out 240 batters in 2017).

The other is not.

As a result, Foothill League coaches did not have a particularly difficult decision this time around in tabbing the league’s pitcher and player of the year.

Shipman, when she wasn’t walked or pitched around (she walked 22 times in league), batted .625 in league with six home runs and 13 RBIs.

In 113 plate appearances on the year, the junior didn’t strike out once, a first in coach Donna Lee’s 23 seasons at the school.

As for O’Leary, she shut out the first five Foothill teams she faced, and owned a .20 ERA in 69 league innings.

“Shea, mentally, she was a totally different pitcher,” Lee said of the University of Texas commit’s improvement from 2016. “She’s a lot tougher. She’s physically tougher and mentally tougher, and it shows in her pitching and every aspect. To see she has one more year is phenomenal.”

O’Leary described her on-field relationship with Shipman, who has called her own game since her freshman year, as seamless. Each can sense what the other wants without saying anything.

“She did a great job this year. I didn’t have to shake her off at all,” O’Leary said of Shipman, a University of Tennessee commit. “She and I are together like we have the same mind.”

Last season, O’Leary earned co-Player of the Year honors with Saugus’ Lindsay Clare. The league’s Pitcher of the Year was now-Oklahoma Sooner Mariah Lopez, also of Saugus.

It provided O’Leary with motivation to come back and win the award this year.

“Yeah, I knew we would have Cassidy (Cangemi) this year from Golden Valley that would be my competition,” O’Leary said. “I had to go out there and really focus on hitting spots with my pitches and focus on having fun.”

Shipman was a first team all-league selection the past two seasons.

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