Dee Dee Hernandez left a first impression not soon to be forgotten upon the area softball landscape in 2018.
Her freshman campaign was a highlight reel of dominance in the circle and at the plate.
To say Hernandez wasted no time in leaving her mark is likely an understatement as Falcons coach Amanda Peek knew she had a special player joining the program from the first time she saw her.
“Honestly, the first time was tryouts,” Falcons coach Amanda Peek says, “when she just parked one in the street.”
So, in other words, Peek knew straight away that she had a phenom coming to Crescenta Valley after she sent a home run far over the outfield fence.
“And that was before she even pitched,” Peek adds.
It was a moment that proved to be emblematic for Hernandez’ tour de force of a freshman season, as she never wasted any time making an impact.
The Pacific League Pitcher of the Year put up sensational numbers and led the Falcons to an outright league title and into the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs. She was henceforth voted the All-Area Softball Player of the Year by the sports staff of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.
“She’s just an all-around player,” Falcons junior teammate Peyton Hause says. “She has a great attitude and she just gets it done.”
In the circle, Hernandez dazzled to the tune of a 21-2 record with a 0.42 earned-run average over 131 1/3 innings with 162 strikeouts, just four walks and a 0.43 walks/hits per innings pitched.
At the plate, Hernandez dominated in the form of a .556 batting average with 50 hits, including 19 doubles and three home runs, while tallying 45 runs batted in and scoring 10 times for good measure as she was usually replaced by a courtesy runner.
“She had a phenomenal season, but at the same time, I’ve known Dee Dee my whole life and that’s just who she is,” junior standout Alyssa Hernandez says.
Alyssa isn’t related to Dee Dee Hernandez, but she’s “kind of grown up with Dee Dee” through softball.
So it came to little surprise when Dee Dee Hernandez made an instant impact with her play and fit in with the team chemistry-wise from the onset.
“I felt Dee Dee fit right in,” Alyssa says. “We’re really big on team chemistry. I felt Dee Dee just fit right in with all the girls.”
And she fit into the Falcons’ quest to improve as the team built a 25-3 record, winning the Pacific League title for the second straight season with a 13-1 record.
“She’s a student of the game, she has fire and she’s a great teammate,” Peek says.
Despite her youth on a team that had plenty of inexperienced returners, Hernandez impacted the team with intangibles as well. Her confidence spread as the team dominated throughout much of the season.
“She gave us that edge that we needed to step it up,” Hause says. “And I think her confidence spread to all of us.”
Crescenta Valley turned in 14 shutout wins and nine victories by 10 or more runs. It also produced winning streaks of 15 games and six at the end of the season.
“I think our team did amazing, but it came to the end when, after we lost, I put a lot of pressure on myself; I blamed myself,” Hernandez said. “But we have another season.”
A second-round loss to El Modena via a 9-8 score ended the aforementioned six-game winning streak. It was a game in which the Falcons were marred by errors and relinquished a sizable early lead before rallying back only to come up short. It’s a defeat that Hernandez won’t soon forget.
“I’m kind of using the way we ended the season as a chip on my shoulder to drive me more, Hernandez says.
“I’m super excited for next season; I’d play tomorrow if I could.”
Left behind in an astounding season are splendid stats, plenty of success and some intangibles that add up to what many believe is an even more promising future for the Falcons.
“An excellent [season], there’s really no other way to put it. She just balled out. She had the best season she probably could have,” Hause says. “And it’s not about her stats and how well she pitched; it’s about her attitude and show she came to play. That’s really what set her apart.”