By Fred Robledo
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Janell Wheaton, San Dimas, Sr.
San Dimas coach Don Pollard remembers when Janell Wheaton was a freshman and wondering if all that talent would blossom.
“There are some players that come in as a freshman and you say to yourself, ‘she’s going to be great as a senior,’ and then they never really live up to the hype.”
That wasn’t Wheaton.
“Not only did she live up to everything, she exceeded it,” Pollard said. “I’m not just talking about her talent, but her softball IQ, how she plays under pressure and the work she does in the classroom. She’s the most complete package I’ve ever been around.”
Wheaton, who signed a national letter of intent to play at National champion Florida, has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune player of the year.
“She’s everything she’s advertised to be,” said San Dimas coach Don Pollard. “She deserves all the accolades she’s getting.”
Wheaton did it all at San Dimas, winning four straight Valle Vista league titles and earning three straight league most valuable player of the year awards.
Wheaton was named to the all-area first-team a year ago, then set her sights even higher.
“The girl who was chosen for player of the year last year (Bishop Amat’s Lexi Gonzalez) went to Oregon State,” Wheaton said. “I said to myself, ‘that’s my goal, to have a good season, to win league again and get player of the year and go off on a good note.’ I’m pretty happy with my career at San Dimas.”
The catcher’s senior season numbers were off the charts. She led the area in average, RBIs and hits, batting .617 with 44 RBIs and 58 hits. She also had five home runs and likely would have finished with double-digit homers if San Dimas had a fence.
“That’s true, she would have had seven to ten more with a fence,” Pollard said. “Everyone played her back and she still hit bombs over their heads that would have been gone at any other park.
“She made adjustments at the plate and hit a lot of line drives. She finished with a lot of extra base hits (10 doubles and six triples).
Wheaton also led San Dimas to the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals, and for all her offensive prowess, she was an equal force defensively behind home plate.
“Nobody stole on her and anyone that tried found out quickly it wasn’t going to work.” Pollard said. “I can’t remember the last time she let a ball get past her that wasn’t a wild pitch, she has that kind of skillset.
“The other thing is, she calls her own game. She’s been calling her own game the last three years because she’s got that IQ and understands pitchers and hitters very well.”
Wheaton will either play first base or catcher at Florida.
“They have some established players ahead of her, but they’ll find a place for her,” Pollard said. “I have no doubt she’ll go on to do great things at Florida and whatever else she chooses to do in life.”
COACH OF THE YEAR: Nacho Hernandez, Los Altos
No team improved more over the course of the season than Los Altos, a young group that was beaten soundly early in the year, losing three of their first five games, and getting hammered in two of them. But the Conquerors stayed the course under their fourth year coach, who needed wins over Bonita and West Covina in the second half of Hacienda League play to earn a co-league title with Bonita, giving Hernandez his second league championship.
The Conquerors finished league with a dramatic come-from-behind 4-3 victory over West Covina, then shocked South Hills 1-0 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs. The Conquerors won 10 of their final 12 games to finish 16-7, and for their efforts, Hernandez has been selected the Tribune 2014 softball coach of the year.
NATALIE LUGO, South Hills, Freshman, Pitcher
The only freshman on the all-area first-team was arguably the area’s best pitcher and is already verbally committed to NCAA champion Florida. She earned Sierra League first-team honors, finishing 16-6 with a 0.98 ERA with 197 strikeouts in 150 innings. She also helped the Huskies reach the Division 2 playoffs.
CELESTE WOOD, Los Altos, Junior, Pitcher
She hit and pitched her way to the Hacienda League MVP after helping the Conquerors finish in a tie for the league title, then pitched a gem in a 1-0 victory over South Hills in the first-round of the Division 2 playoffs. Wood, who is committed to Michigan State, was 13-2 with a 2.38 ERA and just as dangerous at the plate, batting .536 with five home runs and 19 RBIs.
JENNA RODELO, Rowland, Sophomore, Catcher
Was the lone bright spot on a Raiders team that won one game all season. She earned Hacienda league first-team honors for her terrific season defensively and at the plate, where she was among the leaders in every offensive category. She batted .533 with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs. She was pitched around so many times, she did it all with only 60 at-bats.
MADELAINE TICKEY, West Covina, Junior, Utility
Tickey quickly proved herself after transferring from Duarte, turning into one of the areas best all-around players in the circle and the plate. She earned Hacienda league first-team honors after helping the Bulldogs reach the playoffs. She batted .394 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. In the circle she was 12-5 with a 2.33 ERA.
AMANDA SANCHEZ, Bishop Amat, Senior, Infielder
The Del Rey league first-team third baseman earns her second-straight all-area first-team selection. On her way to the University of Missouri, she helped the Lancers reach the second round of the Division 3 playoffs and was one of the areas most feared hitters. She batted .442 with six home runs, eight doubles and 24 RBIs in a tough league that produced divisional champion St. Paul.
ASHLEY DIAZ, South El Monte, Junior, Infielder
She earned the Mission Valley most valuable player award for the second straight season after helping the Eagles to a co-league title with Arroyo and has verbally committed to the University of Arkansas. The shortstop produced sensation offensive numbers and was among the area leaders in the triple crown category, batting. 542 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. She also had 11 doubles.
MONET MANNING, Northview, sophomore, Infielder
The sophomore shortstop had a breakout season for the Vikings to earn Valle Vista league first-team honors. She hit for power and average, batting .509 with eight home runs, 29 RBIs and seven doubles. She belted two home runs in a game twice, and only struck out twice the entire season.
ALICIA BROWN, Glendora, Senior, Infielder
The Tartans’ team struggled in the Baseline league, but Brown was one of the league’s best, earning first-team honors. She helped the Tartans to the San Dimas tournament title and batted .354 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs. The third baseman will continue her softball career at Loyola Marymount University.
CHLOE MELANSON, Bonita, Junior, Outfielder
The speedy right fielder earned Hacienda league first-team honors and is verbally committed to the University of Miami in Ohio. She helped the Bearcats share the Hacienda league title by hitting for average, power and was a threat on the bases. She batted. 522 with 12 home runs, six doubles and 20 RBIs.
ALYSSA BARRERA, Bishop Amat, Junior, Outfielder
The Del Rey league first-team selection led the Lancers in average and was tied for the team lead in runs scored. She batted an impressive .494 with a .553 on base percentage. She finished with 40 hits while also belting two home runs to go with three doubles, three triples, 12 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
BROOKE CLEMETSON, Charter Oak, Senior, Outfielder/Pitcher
The Sierra League first-team selection pitched, played outfield and is one of the areas best all-around players headed to Cal State Fullerton. She batted .423 with four doubles and nine RBIs but was most important to her team in the circle, finishing 12-3 with a 1.15 ERA with 73 strikeouts.
Pitcher: Kaelyn McFadden, Bonita, Senior
Pitcher: Princess Nava, Covina, Junior
Pitcher: Kaile Chavez, Charter Oak, Junior
Catcher: Melysia Ortega, South Hills, Sophomore
Utility: Ana Mejia, Northview, Senior
Infielder: Evelyn Sandoval, El Monte, Sophomore
Infielder: Jennifer Aguinaga, San Dimas, Senior
Infielder: Isabella Sierra, Covina, Sophomore
Infielder: Anissa Sanchez, Bishop Amat, Senior
Outfielder: Jocelyn Marquez, Northview, Senior
Outfielder: Alexis Gonzalez, West Covina, Senior
Outfielder: Sierra Hensel, Charter Oak, Senior
FINAL TOP TEN
1. Charter Oak (19-8)
2. Bishop Amat (18-10)
3. San Dimas (22-8)
4. Los Altos (16-7)
5. South Hills (21-8)
6. Bonita (17-7)
7. West Covina (16-12)
8. Arroyo (19-5)
9. Covina (16-8-1)
10. Sierra Vista (17-5-2)