Battle of the Valley
Santa Clarita Softball in 2013
May, 2013 - Issue #103
photo courtesy of Shutterstock
photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Foothill League softball could certainly argue that it is the most competitive battle in all of Santa Clarita Valley sports. In the last four seasons, four schools - West Ranch, Saugus, Valencia and Hart - have claimed league titles. But more importantly than the fierce competition is just how talented the girls who play are. It is one of the most successful sports in the SCV in terms of sending athletes on to play at the college level. As usual this year will be a battle with tons of talent spread across the valley.

West Ranch Wildcats
Now committed to Stanford University, West Ranch returns the Foothill League Player of the Year with senior do-it-all shortstop Kylie Sorenson. Catcher Julia Lombardi, a Long Beach State commit, should provide the Wildcats with more offensive power. Junior third baseman Lauren Lindvall has committed to Oregon and senior Haley Hineman to Princeton. Both add more talent to an already impressive lineup. Sophomore Lexi Sorenson (no relation) will pitch most days for the Wildcats. The defending Foothill champs have their sights set on repeating, but they are also a CIF championship contender.

"I dream about it and wish for bigger things," said West Ranch head coach Bob Shults of a CIF title. "We have to take care of business at home and win Foothill League [first]."

"More importantly than the FIERCE COMPETITION is just how talented the girls who play are."
Saugus Centurions
Saugus might have the element that the other teams in the Foothill don't - a shutdown pitcher. Before freshman Mariah Lopez even set foot on a high school field, she had a scholarship to Oklahoma. Saugus also gets the services of power-hitting UCLA-commit Maddy Jelenicki, who sat out last year and played baseball instead after a transfer from Valencia. Senior Rachel Shotzbarger and junior Alyssa Rodriguez will provide even more power to the already dangerous offensive lineup. Senior Alanna Layton was a steady pitcher for the Cents last year and will be an everyday outfielder and run producer this season.

"Definitely our goal is to win League. I definitely think we can if we bring our A-game," said Saugus head coach Julie Watson. "After league I think we can win CIF. It's a very realistic goal. I feel like we're deep on all levels - pitching, offense and defense."

Valencia Vikings
Despite not winning the last two Foothill League titles, perennial power Valencia will have a say in this race. Valencia's offense is led by returning All-Foothill League senior Kristina Brackpool (Penn State), sophomore third baseman and Cal-Berkeley commit Nicole Joseph and improving junior shortstop Wendy Cardinali. Senior Sydney Mundell will be the workhorse pitcher for the Vikings this season.

"It's great not having a target on your back," said Valencia head coach Donna Lee. "You can coach. It's a lot more fun, less pressure. The kids feel that, too."

Hart Indians
Hart has an interesting mix of veterans and rookies and is hoping that will meld together quickly to produce wins. Big hitting Jenae Coleman, a Cal State Monterey Bay commit, moves to third base from catcher. Second baseman Paxton Provost is a Utah State commit. Senior Kaitlyn Reed will be leaned on as the Indians' primary pitching option. Senior shortstop Sierra Quiala will be another key veteran for the Indians. On the other end of the spectrum, freshmen catcher Raquel Blanchard and Sienna Vanoy lead a strong group of first-year varsity players.

"We'll be competitive this year," says Hart head coach Steve Calendo. "We might surprise some people."

Canyon Cowboys
Canyon came within one game of making the postseason last year, and this season there's optimism. The Cowboys have stability in the infield and proven run producers in sophomores Lexi Lotito and Paige Johnson and juniors Tiffany Dyson and Kaelie Doyle. Early on in 2013, the Cowboys' explosive offense made up for a lack of dominating pitching.

"I would call us young, but also we're... not the word 'scrappy,' but the girls never give up. There's a good spirit," said Canyon head coach Dwain Whalen.

Golden Valley Grizzlies
There is promise at Golden Valley. Third-year head coach Hugo Castillo came to a program that never experienced team success in the Foothill League. Golden Valley has some pieces to be competitive right now, but is also built for the future. Three freshmen - shortstop Marisa Felix, third baseman Valerie Goymerac and second baseman Tatyanah Castillo - are a big part of Golden Valley's future. They, along with four-year varsity pitcher Sidney Herrera and three-year varsity catcher Emily Smith, will be counted on to help the Grizzlies win sooner rather than later.

"Hopefully we'll go out there and shock the world," Castillo said.
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