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Area softball quartet bestowed with All-CIF recognition

Area softball quartet bestowed with All-CIF recognition
Crescenta Valley High softball pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez was named the All-CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year. (Tim Berger | Staff Photographer)

There proved to be some quality area softball teams during the 2019 season, capped by Crescenta Valley High winning the CIF Southern Section Division III championship.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy enjoyed an impressive postseason run, while Glendale had a winning record and just missed qualifying for the playoffs.

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For Crescenta Valley’s Dee Dee Hernandez and Alyssa Hernandez, along with Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s Amanda Ramirez and Aurora Funaro of Glendale, they all shared something in common after they received All-CIF Southern Section first-team nods Thursday when the CIF office unveiled its selections for all seven divisions.

Dee Dee Hernandez, a sophomore pitcher, paved the way as she was named the Division III Player of the Year. Hernandez, a left-hander, hurled a no-hitter to help Crescenta Valley register a 3-0 win against West Ranch in the division’s championship contest in Irvine. It was Crescenta Valley’s first CIF crown since 1986.

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Hernandez finished 23-5 with a 1.01 earned-run average in 28 appearances. She struck out 164 and walked 20 in 158 innings. Hernandez was also a force at the plate, as she batted .602 (53 for 88) with three home runs, 17 doubles, 25 runs, 42 runs batted in and a .943 slugging percentage for the Pacific League-champion Falcons (27-5-1, 14-0 in league).

“Dee Dee just seemed to get tougher as the games went along, especially in the playoffs,” said .Crescenta Valley coach Amanda Peek, who was named the division’s coach of the year. “Every inning into a game, she got hotter and tougher and usually that’s the opposite for a pitcher.”

“She had all of her pitches working and she’s deserving of her honor.”

Alyssa Hernandez proved to be steady with the bat and glove once again while providing the Falcons with leadership. The Cal State Fullerton-bound senior infielder hit .412 (42 for 102) with seven doubles, 40 runs, 25 RBI and a .569 slugging percentage.

“As Alyssa went, we went,” Peek said. “She was our spark, plus at the top of the lineup and in the field.’

“We could always count on Alyssa in so many ways. She’s just a phenomenal athlete.”

Ramirez, a senior infielder, was named to the Division IV team after helping the Tologs win the Sunshine League championship and reach the quarterfinals before falling to Redondo Union. Flintridge Sacred Heart won its first league title since 1988.

Ramirez hit .606 (40 for 66) with 15 doubles and five triples. She scored 36 runs, drove in 32 runs and had a .991 fielding percentage after missing most of the 2018 season because of an injury

“Amanda is the kind of player who is special and you look to build your team around,” said Flintridge Sacred Heart coach Kirk Nishiyama, whose team went 18-6, 7-1. “She battled back from her injury and contributed immediately.

“We were always confident with Amanda’s ability and she did the job at the plate and in the field.”

Funaro, who will attend Occidental College, also picked up Division IV honors.

The right-hander finished 13-6 with a 1.68 ERA in 20 appearances for Glendale (14-8-1, 7-7 in Pacific League for fifth place). Funaro struck out 125 and walked 18 in 95 2/3 innings. She hit .349 (22 for 63) with 17 RBI and 16 runs.

“She had a great four-year career at Glendale and she was an incredible workhorse,” said Glendale coach Chris Funaro, who is Aurora’s father. “We just missed making the playoffs, but she was a big part in our team having a winning record while also playing in a very tough league.

“The coaches in our division saw Aurora a lot and they recognized her ability and skill level.”

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