By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
Christmas came a day early for 11 area athletes.
That’s the feeling most feel on national signing day, when high school senior student athletes officially commit to the college or university of their choice.
The area’s elated 11 was topped by Maranatha’s Jeremy Major, who signed to play Division I basketball at nearby Pepperdine, but it also featured basketball player Alyson Lock (Loyola Marymount) of Keppel; baseball players Joe Mata (Cal State Bakersfield) of Monrovia and Bradley Haslam (Air Force) of San Marino and softball players Michelle Floyd (Arizona) of San Marino, Rachel Albright (Northern State, South Dakota) of Pasadena, Amy Zeronian (Belmont, Tenn.) of Marshall and the La Canada duo of Annie Monroe and Kelsey Drange, who signed with Loyola Marymount.
La Canada girls volleyball player Kendall Walbrecht and Spartans swimmer Brandon Nguyen signed with UC Davis and Navy, respectively.
“For me, it wasn’t hectic at all,” Major said. “It’s really relief that (signing day) is finally here. It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Knowing that I’m going to play basketball on a full-ride scholarship is great.
“I feel more happy for my mom because she doesn’t have to worry about anything. Hard work pays all. It’s all a blessing.”
Pepperdine is getting one of the top area basketball players in Major, who averaged 25.8 points a game last season, with 44 three-pointers. He also averaged six rebounds and nearly 5 assists per contest.
“Mainly, it was the academics,” Major said of choosing the Waves. “It’s a great school. I didn’t want to leave California, so my mom could come and watch me play.
“They play in a good conference, so it’s definitely a team on the rise. (I’m) just excited to get it started.”
Floyd is going to one of the country’s top softball programs in Arizona, which has won eight national titles since 1993. The senior hit .444 with 23 RBIs and five home runs in helping the Titans to a second-place finish in the Rio Hondo League and advance two rounds in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.
Floyd also was dominant in the circle in going 16-8 with a 0.88 ERA and 288 strikeouts in 160 innings.
“It’s a great program,” Floyd said. “I’ve dreamed of going to a Pac-12 school. People talk about how you get a feeling when you get onto a campus. I didn’t believe it.
“But then I got an amazing feeling at Arizona and knew it was the perfect place for me.”
The big winner of the day might be Loyola Marymount, which picked up signatures from Lock for its women’s basketball team and the La Canada duo of Monroe and Drange for softball.
Lock helped lead Keppel to a 25-8 record and a trip to the CIF State playoffs. Monroe and Drange were key components for La Canada, which went 26-4-1 en route to winning the Division 5 title. The duo hit .330 and .390, respectively.
Zeronian, one of the area’s top hitters after batting .594 with 33 RBIs and nine home runs, loves the idea of going east for college. Belmont, located in Nashville, fit the bill.
“Once I stepped onto the campus, I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” Zeronian said. “It had the small campus side that I liked, and it was out of California. I want to get out of California.”
Albright, a transfer from La Salle who hit .258 for the Lancers last season, had similar feelings about Northern State, which is located in Aberdeen, S.D.
“Northern State has a college-town (atmosphere), which is one of the things I was looking for,” Albright said. “It’s far from California, and I get snow.”
Mata will join one of the newer Division I programs in Bakersfield. He was one of the top pitchers in the area while helping the Wildcats reach the Division 4 semifinals. He was 9-2 with a 1.24 earned run average and 61 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Haslam hit .286 with eight RBIs for San Marino, which finished 17-9.
Nguyen was one of top swimmers in the area and Walbrecht helped La Canada advance to the Division 2AA semifinals.