GLENDALE — Helping get the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy softball team back to the playoffs for the first time in three years was the reward. Getting through the Mission League first proved to take plenty of hard work.
Through a combination of mixing an array of pitches from inside the circle and providing numerous clutch hits, Tologs pitcher Jessica Ferri more than reached her potential in the eyes of the league’s six coaches.
The Harvard University-bound Ferri was selected as the league’s most valuable player after striking out 254 batters and batting .582 in helping the Tologs finish tied for second in league with Chaminade before advancing to the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
“It’s definitely exciting to get that recognition,” said Ferri, who earned All-Area first-team accolades after being named the league’s co-pitcher of the year last season. “It’s a very competitive league with a lot of talented players, so it’s a pretty exciting honor.”
The Tologs (19-6) had three players named to the first team in senior shortstop Taylor Crotty, sophomore right fielder Alanna Pires and junior catcher Meghan Luera. Flintridge Sacred Heart saw senior first baseman Mary Knauf, sophomore center fielder/second baseman Paige Conti and sophomore third baseman MacKenzie Lyng tabbed for the second team.
Sacred Heart second-year Coach Kirk Nishiyama said Ferri, who finished with 21 extra-base hits, deserved the honor.
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” said Nishiyama, whose team began the playoffs with a 6-0 wild-card victory against Arroyo Grande before falling to second-seeded Oaks Christian, 11-0, in a first-round contest. “Between her offense and pitching, she was pretty much our motor.
“One of the keys to her success was she wanted to take over the game and trusting her teammates more to help her out. She was supportive of that and became a true leader.”
Ferri collected a team-best 10 home runs and 27 runs batted in. She also registered a team-best eight doubles, while tying Pires for the team lead in triples with three.
Crotty batted .246 and drove in nine runs and scored nine, while anchoring the middle of Flintridge Sacred Heart’s defense. Pires provided some pop in the middle of the lineup with a .276 average, 16 RBIs and 13 runs, while Luera enjoyed a breakthrough season in which she drove in 21 runs.
“Taylor was solid all year with the bat and glove,” Nishiyama said. “Alanna got off to a slow start, but came through late in the season after moving to the three hole in the lineup.
“With Megan, she had a huge year by improving defensively and getting in a rhythm with Jess.”
Knauf provided the Tologs with some leadership and drove in six runs. Conti drove in nine runs and finished with 17 hits and 16 runs scored. Lyng provided a glimpse of what she might be capable of doing with the Tologs for the next two seasons by playing well in the field and scoring 10 runs and tallying nine RBIs.
“Mary drove in the runs when we needed them,” Nishiyama said. “Paige showed once again that she can cover a lot of ground at second base and in the outfield.
“MacKenzie showed she can handle playing third and being able to put the ball in play.”