By Nikash Nath
For The Signal
After not having a season last year, Foothill League softball was back in full swing this past spring — and Foothill League coaches recently announced their selections for first and second all-league teams.
Foothill League teams were limited to playing just the other teams in the William S. Hart Union High School District, and Valencia dominated the competition this season, going a perfect 15-0 in league play.
Valencia’s stellar season was led by the Foothill League player of the year, Delaney Scully, and pitcher of the year Casey Edwards. Emma Branson, Izzy Mertes and Addison Snyder round out the Valencia first-teamers.
Scully was also named to the All-CIF Division 1 team.
She is committed to play Division I softball at the University of the Pacific next fall. This past season for the Vikings she played first base while also batting cleanup, hitting .490 with six home runs and 23 runs batted in.
Branson is another Viking planning to go on to play collegiate softball. She is committed to play at the University of New Mexico. Branson was the Vikings’ shortstop, with a .952 fielding percentage, while hitting .400 and putting up eight extra base hits.
“She is the only girl on the roster to have played all four years on varsity,” said Vikings head coach Donna Lee. “She was the leader of our team.”
Edwards was named Foothill League pitcher of the year, posting a 3.20 ERA while pitching 85 out of 95 innings for Valencia.
Saugus also had a trio of players make first-team All-Foothill League. Seniors McKenna Gibson and Allie Enright were joined by junior Alyssa Ramirez.
Gibson was named All-CIF as well as being a team leader on the Centurions this past season.
“She had never played shortstop before this season; however, she took on the challenge and was phenomenal,” Saugus head coach Julie Archer said.
Gibson posted a .600 batting average to go along with a .699 on-base percentage and a 1.267 slugging percentage. She also had six home runs and 21 runs batted in.
“She’s the type of hitter you want up with the game on the line,” Archer said.
Enright was the other Saugus senior to be named to the first team All-Foothill League this season.
Enright played center field for Saugus as well as batting lead-off this season.
“She was our spark plug. She’s very fast, hits for contact and power, she was very aggressive on the base paths for us this year,” Archer said.
Enright posted a stat line of .476 batting average as well as a .477 on-base percentage with five home runs, 19 runs batted in and 22 runs scored.
Ramirez rounds out the Centurions to be named to the first team All-Foothill League.
“She is the jack of all trades,” Archer said. “She was our main pitcher and when she wasn’t pitching she was being used as a great hitter and defender. Her primary positions were third base and outfield when she wasn’t on the mound.”
Ramirez will be a returning senior next season and her versatility showed both on the mound and at the plate.
She pitched a 3.40 ERA in 62 innings to go along with eight wins. At the plate she had a .370 batting average, .400 on base percentage and four home runs.
Hart’s trio of Kate Penberthy, Alexis Lopez and Bri DeleMaza as well as Golden Valley’s Jenasis Guerrero and West Ranch’s Addie Ferguson round out the All-Foothill League first team.
After finishing atop the Foothill League for the first time in three years, the Vikings (15-1) and Centurions (11-5) were the lone teams to represent the Foothill League in the Division 1 2021 CIF Southern Section Softball Championships.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, their season came to an end in the first round, losing to La Serna 13-5.
“We faced a really good hitting team,” said Lee. “We were lucky to even play a season.”
No matter the outcome, Lee is proud of the way her team performed despite the unusual season.
“Everybody contributed on the team. It was a pleasure to be around this group of girls,” said Lee.
Despite the shortened season, the Vikings will look to build on this past season and are hopeful for a full season next spring.
“We have a great group coming back next year, with a solid foundation. The biggest challenge will come from outside of the valley. We will see better pitching and more competitive competition. The goal is to always win Foothill League and we will work our butts off each day,” said Lee.
Saugus finished the season in second place in the Foothill League. Along with Valencia, the Centurions were able to qualify for the Division 1 CIF tournament.
Their season came to an end in the first round after losing to the South Spartans 7-4.
“Our goals for next season are to push to win the league title, continue to grow as a team,” said Archer. “Our juniors and seniors will bring experience into next season, which I’m excited about.”