Softball All-Area: South Hills’ Natalie Lugo and St. Lucy’s coach David Gaither earn top awards

Player of the year: Natalie Lugo, South Hills, Junior
Natalie Lugo is so good she’s easy to take for granted.
She didn’t just lead South Hills to the Palomares League title, she did it with an astonishing statistic. In going a perfect 10-0 in league, Lugo didn’t allow an earned run.
Incredible stuff considering how dangerous offensively teams like Glendora, Los Altos, Diamond Bar and Bonita were throughout the season.

“From the start of the season my goal was to not give up any runs at all, which I know is very difficult,” Lugo said. “Now that I’m able to look back and reflect on the season, it’s a bit overwhelming to realize that I was able to have the type of season that I did. But it all starts with the girls behind me. I’m able to throw strikes with confidence and know that that if the ball is put in play, I have a solid defense behind me that will lay it out on the line for me every play.”
And did they ever, helping Lugo finish 18-6 with a whopping 0.62 ERA with 279 strikeouts in 159 innings.
nlugo1She struck out 10 or more in 15 games, including two games with a season-high 19 strikeouts. Lugo also struck out 17 in a 10-inning heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Valley View in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinals.
For the second consecutive year, Lugo, who verbally committed to the University of Florida when she was a freshman, has been selected the Tribune softball player of the year.
“It’s an incredible honor to be named the player of the year once, and to be able to repeat it again was beyond my expectations,” Lugo said. “There are so many talented players in the San Gabriel Valley who all had great seasons themselves and to be named the best out of them all is amazing. It’s great to know that all my hard work has not gone unnoticed and pushes me to work even harder to help my team go for the (CIF) title next season.”
Lugo also threw three no-hitters, including a 10-0 no-hitter over Pacifica in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs.
Lugo struck out 19 in a 5-0 victory over Canyon, and was most proud of her 19 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over Glendora, in which she allowed only one hit against a team that batted. 348 overall.
“Glendora was the team to beat at the start of league and I knew that game would set the tone for the rest of our league games,” Lugo said. “Going into the game, I knew that it was important for me to step up and perform the best I could to give my team the best chance to win. Our hitting and defense did their jobs and I had one of my best games. That’s one game I won’t forget for a very long time.”
Lugo has done everything imaginable at South Hills except lead it to a CIF championship. She watched her brother Nick Lugo win a Division 2 baseball title with the Huskies this spring, and the girls soccer team won a championship in the winter season.
She’s hoping her senior season ends with a ring.
“As happy as I am to see baseball and soccer win their own championships, I believe it’s our turn to be in the school’s spotlight and hang a softball banner in our gym next year,” Lugo said. “I’m proud of our team and what we accomplished this year, but it’s time for us to turn it up a notch and it all starts with me in the circle. We need to get back to work and not get comfortable with the last two good seasons.”

Coach of the year: David Gaither, St. Lucy’s
dgaitherFace it, there wasn’t much expected at St. Lucy’s after going 10-16 the previous season with a lot of unproven youngsters competing in the unforgiving Baseline League.
But somehow, someway, St. Lucy’s became the biggest surprise of the 2016 season, finishing 14-8-2 and third in the Baseline to earn a CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff spot for first-year coach David Gaither, who has been selected the Tribune softball coach of the year.
“I thought that we could be competitive looking at the talent we had returning and the players we had coming into our program,” Gaither said. “I felt that it would take a couple of years to climb the ladder to where we needed to be. To end up in third place in the Baseline and a playoff berth gives us all the momentum heading into next year.”
The highlight of the season were the biggest upsets of the season.
St. Lucy’s stunned Etiwanda, ranked No. 1 in Division 1 at the time, 6-3, then followed with a shocking 5-0 shutout over Chino Hills to take over sole possession of first in the Baseline after the first four games.
Etiwanda went on to win the Baseline league and lost to eventual Division 1 champion Mater Dei in the playoffs.
But not without St. Lucy’s leaving a lasting impression.
“The Etiwanda game was the highlight of our season, no doubt,” Gaither said. “They only had lost one game at the time but our girls were focused from the first pitch to the last out.”
Gaither was flattered to be named coach of the year, and insisted this is just the beginning.
“I’m shocked and honored,” Gaither said. “The players were the main reason we had a successful turnaround this season. They had the skills and talent to play the game, they just needed someone to instill the confidence in them. We just brought them together, guided them and let them play the game to their ability.
“You coach for the love of the sport and when something like this is bestowed upon you (coach of the year), it’s all worth the time and effort you put in every day.”

Pitcher: Samaria Diaz, Bishop Amat, Sr.

Every dominant team has a dominant pitcher and Diaz was just that for the Del Rey League champion Lancers, earning Del Rey League pitching most valuable player honors after finishing 13-2 with a 0.93 ERA with 125 strikeouts in 122 innings. The New Mexico State signee was a big reason the Lancers won the Del Rey league title and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinals. She also helped herself at the plate, batting .345.

ckeeferPitcher: Cambria Keefer, Glendora, Sr.
The Tartans pitcher earned Palomares League first team honors for the second straight season. Keefer, who is headed to Rutgers University, helped the Tartans to a second-place finish in the Palomares by finishing 13-5 overall with a 2.33 ERA. She finished with 120 strikeouts in 106 innings.

dcasperPitcher: Dakota Casper, St. Lucy’s, Jr.
The Regents were the most improved team in the San Gabriel Valley, and the junior pitcher was a big reason why, earning Baseline League first team honors after finishing 12-5 with a 2.26 ERA in 151 innings of work. Casper was the winning pitcher in a 6-3 win over Etiwanda, who was ranked No. 1 in Division 1 at the time, and followed with a 5-0 shutout over Chino Hills, another dominant team that finished 22-10. She helped the Regents finish third in the Baseline to quality for the Division 1 playoffs.

mortegaCatcher: Melysia Ortega, South Hills, Sr.
There’s no doubt the Dakota Wesleyan University signee is one of the best defensive catchers and clearly the best hitting catcher in the San Gabriel Valley. Not only does she have the huge responsibility of catching for player of the year Natalie Lugo, but she’s a big reason the Huskies won so many games. She was a run producer, batting .434 with 32 RBIs, eight doubles and 10 home runs.

jvalenzuelaUtility: Julia Valenzuela, Bishop Amat, Sr.
Arguably the best defensive catcher in the San Gabriel Valley, the Del Rey all-league selection was like an extra coach on the field, a true field general and big reason why she earned a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton. Valenzuela batted . 277 with 17 RBIs, two doubles and two home runs, and was clutch at the plate when her team needed her the most.

rfarrickerInfield: Randi Farricker, Glendora, Sr.
The super shortstop is a Tribune first-team selection and Palomares League first team selection for the second straight year. Farricker is headed to Arizona State not only for her defense, but because she’s one of the best hitters in the San Gabriel Valley. She batted an impressive .516 with 30 RBIs, nine home runs, six doubles and 25 runs scored.

adiazInfield: Alyssa Diaz, South El Monte, Sr.
The University of Santa Barbara signee was the Mission Valley League most valuable player and led the area in hitting with a whopping .643 batting average. Not only could she hit for average, she did everything else, finishing with six home runs, eight doubles, six triples, 32 runs scored and 32 RBIs.

mchavezInfield: Marissa Chavez, Charter Oak, Jr.
The sure-handed shortstop has a big future after being named to the Hacienda League first team. She hit for average and power, batting .455 with 11 home runs, seven doubles, two triples and 31 RBI’s. Chavez belted two home runs with six RBIs in a 15-0 rout over Walnut.

sgarciaInfield: Samantha Garcia, St. Lucy’s, So.
The sophomore infielder was named to the Baseline League first team, quite an accomplishment considering how tough the league was. Garcia swung a solid bat, batting .365 with 15 RBIs and two doubles for the Regents, who finished 14-8-2 and third in the Baseline.

cgranadoInfield: Ciara Granado, Edgewood, Jr.
The Miramonte League most valuable player led the Lions to an undefeated league championship and a 20-2 overall finish with mind-boggling numbers. She batted .622 with an area leading 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and 44 runs scored — which was her version of the area Triple Crown. She also had nine doubles and will be back next year to do it all again.

abarreraOutfield: Alyssa Barrera, Bishop Amat, Sr.
The University of Utah signee was the Del Rey League most valuable player and arguably the most influential non-pitcher in the San Gabriel Valley. The leadoff centerfielder batted .474 with 12 stolen bases and 28 runs scored. She also had 15 doubles, five triples and three home runs. She also was selected to play in the inaugural Premier Girls Fastpitch High School All-American all-star game, July 28.

kgreepOutfield: Katie Greep, St. Lucy’s, So.
Considering how good the Baseline League is, which competes in Division 1 and whose league champion Etiwanda, lost in the playoffs to eventual Division 1 champion Mater Dei, it’s quite an accomplishment for the sophomore outfielder to be named to the Baseline League first team. But that’s exactly what Greep accomplished, batting a competitive .292 against solid pitching while finishing with 10 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

Pitcher: Kennedy Cuevas, Edgewood, So.
Pitcher: Marina Roski, Diamond Ranch, Sr.
Pitcher: Alondra Reynoso, San Dimas, Sr.
Utility: Chloe Ochoa, Charter Oak, Sr.
Utility: Peiu-Afele Tafisi-Logoai, Nogales, Sr.
Catcher: Jantzen Owen, Charter Oak, So.
Infield: Shynia Torrez, Arroyo, Jr.
Infield: Gabby Bracamonte, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Infield: Clarissa Perez, South Hills, Sr.
Infield: Taylor Tetone, Glendora, Jr.
Infield: Melissa Felix, Los Altos, So.
Infield: Carlie Salm, San Dimas, Sr.
Outfield: Brooke Jackson, San Dimas, Jr.
Outfield: Idalis Jimenez, Edgewood, Sr.
Outfield: Christie Aguilar, South Hills, Jr.
Outfield: Ashley Carbajal, Los Altos, Jr.
Outfield: Monet Manning, Northview, Sr.

Karyna Baldomino, Rowland, Jr.
Elizabeth Wilson, Diamond Bar, So.
Audrey Sellers, St. Lucy’s, Fr.
Brielle Fraijo, Charter Oak, Sr.
Emily Bracamonte, Wilson, Fr.
Britney Orozco, Northview, So.
Janelle Meono, Wilson, Fr.
Brianna Torres, Wilson, Fr.
Isabella Sierra, Covina, Sr.
Savannah Diederich, Los Altos, So.
Deanna Alarcon, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Alexis Morales, Nogales, Jr.
Alison LeNoue, Covina, Sr.
Karissa Duran, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Sarah Kretschmar, Diamond Ranch, Sr.
Sammy Alvarado, Edgewood, Sr.
Janae Moreno, Azusa, Jr.
Maddie Ramirez, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Isabella Sandoval, Azusa, Fr.
Clarissa Reynoso, San Dimas, So.
Jada Richards, Duarte, Sr.
Abigail Cordova, Sierra Vista, Sr.
Alexandria Rodriguez, San Dimas, So.
Destinee Lopez, Bonita, Jr.
Sam Smith, Diamond Ranch, So.
Seanna Jimenez, El Monte, Sr.
Danielle Dominguez, Arroyo, Sr.
Megan Jones, Bonita, So.
Mariah Tovar, South Hills, Sr.
Vicki Zaluske, Diamond Ranch, Jr.
Natalia Garcia, Pomona, Sr.
Jennifer Luviano, Bassett, Sr.

1. Bishop Amat (23-5)
2. South Hills (22-8)
3. Glendora (17-5)
4. St. Lucy’s (14-8-2)
5. San Dimas (18-9)
6. Edgewood (20-2)
7. Diamond Ranch (18-8)
8. Charter Oak (16-10)
9. Arroyo (17-4)
10. Duarte (18-7-1)

Del Rey: Bishop Amat
Hacienda: Chino
Miramonte: Edgewood
Mission Valley: Arroyo
Montview: Duarte
Palomares: South Hills
Valle Vista: San Dimas

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  • CPEM

    1st Team Catcher: .434 BA, 33 H, 18 XBH, 15 K, 32 RBI, 0 SB, 8 HR, 1.446 OPS, 1.000 Fielding % with 2 baserunners caught stealing.

    2nd Team Catcher: .357 BA, 20 H, 6 XBH, 6 K, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 1 HR, .955 OPS, .667 Fielding % with 2 baserunners caught stealing

    Honorable Mention Catcher: .544 BA, 37 H, 15 XBH, 2 K, 20 RBI, 6 SB, 6 HR, 1.552 OPS, .920 Fielding % with 16 baserunners caught stealing.

    Not taking anything away from what those 2 accomplished this season, but what more did Jimenez need to do to at least earn 2nd team? She was a major component of why EMHS took a share of 2nd place and won their first game in the post-season in over a decade.