Los Angeles Times

Spartans, Titans, Tigers take home All-Rio Hondo League softball honors

Michelle Floyd showed just how dangerous of a dual threat she is in the third game of the San Marino High softball team's Rio Hondo League season March 23 against La Cañada High.

Floyd, who's verbally committed to the University of Arizona, not only struck out 11 and limited the Spartans to two runs in the circle, but she hit a two-run blast in the top of the seventh inning that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 victory for the Titans, who found themselves on top of league for a time due to the victory.

San Marino (18-9-1, 8-4 in league) slipped to second place in league, as La Cañada (26-4-1, 10-1-1) won its final two meetings with the Titans to claim its fourth straight league championship en route to a second consecutive CIF Southern Section Division V crown, but there was no denying the year Floyd put together by the league coaches who named her Rio Hondo's Most Valuable Player.

"It was really cool being able to get recognition for all the hard work I've put in over the years," said Floyd, who saw La Cañada's Lauren Cox take home the Rio Hondo League's Most Valuable Pitcher award. "I was just amazed and I was truly happy and really honored that I was chosen."

Among the league's first-team selections were the Spartans' Annie Monroe, Selina Mohr, Catherine Horner and Katy Lee, San Marino's Alexis Watanabe and Liz Shelburne and South Pasadena's Cynthia Ream-Garcia.

Ever since her freshman year, Floyd has been one of the most dominant pitchers and feared hitters in league.

It was no different in a season where Floyd was named a team captain, along with Watanabe, for the first time.

The junior proceeded to bat .440 (33 for 75) with 23 runs batted in, 19 runs, eight doubles and five home runs.

"It was time for me to step up and be a leader and time for our team to play the way we know how," said Floyd, who went 16-7 with an 0.88 earned-run average and 288 strikeouts in 160 innings pitched. "I tried to be a leader as much as I can this year. I wanted to raise the prestige of San Marino softball."

Floyd's accomplishments in the circle were only rivaled in the league by Cox, who had the most strikeouts in the CIF Southern Section and third most in the state with 321 and maintained a 0.62 ERA and notched 18 shutouts and six no-hitters in 191.1 innings.

This is the second year Cox has earned the award, as she shared the honor with teammate Lauren O'Leary two years ago.

"It is nice to have accomplished it by myself, but I was happy with sharing it with [O'Leary[ as a sophomore," said Cox, who went 23-3 this year and earned All-CIF Division V first-team honors. "I am glad I was able to fill her shoes."

Cox missed almost her entire junior season with a groin injury, but still found a way to come back better and stronger as a senior.

"To come back from injury like that and to put together a [CIF championship] run she was so involved in — she not only got back to where she was but improved — it's a testament to her, to her maturity and her work ethic," said La Cañada Coach KC Mathews, who earned the league's coach of the year award.

Mathews knew the Spartans would be solid in the circle, despite losing O'Leary, with Cox this year. The question was if La Cañada's offense would be able to pick up the slack without Anna Edwards, who moved on to play at Northwestern.

The Spartans all rallied together to help replace Edwards' production.

Horner, a senior catcher, led the way with team-highs in batting average (.418), runs (30), RBI (29), doubles (15), slugging percentage (.735) and tied for a team best with four homers and two triples.

There's more to Horner's game, specifically defensively, that goes unnoticed to many, Mathews said.

"She hasn't made an error in two years, that's unbelievable especially handling the caliber of pitchers she is," said Mathews of Horner, who also threw out seven of the 12 runners who attempted to steal on her this year. "Just as important as the runners she throws out are the runners who don't attempt to run on us. We attempted to steal 62 times this year and other teams only attempted to do so like 13 times against us."

Monroe, who replaced Edwards at shortstop, helped shoulder the load this season with a .330 batting average (33 for 100). The junior also scored 19 times, drove in 11 runs and stole a team-high 10 bases.

"Talk about a tough spot and somebody who came in and lived up to everything," Mathews said of Monroe. "Annie defensively was complete, we couldn't ask for anything more. Offensively, she stepped up this year. She's just a girl who comes in and works hard every day and did her job for us."

Mohr, a senior center fielder, was one of two dangerous slap hitters La Cañada had at its disposal with Lee. She batted ninth in the order but had the Spartans' third-highest batting average (.365) with 27 hits, 13 runs and nine RBI.

"Traditionally, you look at a No. 9 hitter and that's where you hide somebody and that's not what [Mohr] was at all," Mathews said. "She was a second leadoff hitter for us."

Lee, a sophomore, batted .343 (35 for 102) and was a lethal slapper in only her second year playing softball, as she grew up playing baseball.

"For someone who has never slapped before and is only a sophomore this year, it's remarkable what she did as a slap hitter this year," Mathews said of Lee, who scored 25 times, drove in nine, stole nine bases and committed just one error in 61 chances at second. "She had a very clear plan of what she wanted to do at the plate and she was able to execute it. She is really developing into quite a complete player."

Watanabe was a table setter for San Marino out of the leadoff spot. The University of Lehigh-bound shortstop batted .490 (33 for 67) with 24 runs, nine RBI, eight doubles, eight stolen bases and one homer — a leadoff shot in the Titans' 3-2 win over La Cañada.

"She is a major tone setter, she sets the level of play," said Floyd of Watanabe, in reference the La Cañada game. "She gets everyone up and everyone focused when she's at the plate because everyone wants to see her at bat because they know what she can do."

Shelburne, a senior, hit .410 (29 for 70) with 14 RBI, 11 runs, four doubles, two triples and a homer and anchored San Marino at first.

"Liz is an all-around good player. She is a wall at first base," Floyd said.

Ream-Garcia posted a team-high .348 batting average (24 for 65) for the Tigers, who finished fourth in league behind Monrovia (17-9-1, 5-6-1) with a 8-14, 4-8. The junior also led South Pasadena in runs (17), RBI (15), slugging percentage (.580) and home runs (four) and posted a .962 fielding percentage with just one error this season.

Among the second-team selections were La Cañada's Kelsey Drange, who was perhaps the team's most clutch hitter in the playoffs and posted the second-highest team batting average (.390) with 12 RBI, eight runs and three doubles and a perfect fielding percentage.

The Spartans also had Alyssa Stolmack (.279, 17 RBI, 15 runs and four homers) and Jessica Ogden (.333, 15 runs, 12 RBI and five doubles) receive second-team honors.

San Marino's Larissa Phillips got second-team recognition after she batted .350 with 10 RBI and 14 runs in her junior season.

South Pasadena infielder Chelsea Hong (.186 batting average, seven runs and three RBI) and freshman pitcher Cassie Baca also got second-team accolades. Baca (8-6) posted a 3.45 ERA, struck out 28 and notched three shutouts and 10 complete games in 95.1 innings pitched, while batting .292 with seven RBI, eight runs and six doubles.

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