GLENDALE — For some insight into how the Flintridge Prep softball team was able to capture its first Prep League championship in more than 15 years this season, one need look no further than the recently released all-league selections.
The six Rebels honored in the voting conducted by the league's coaches, including Prep League Most Valuable Pitcher Denise van der Goot and Prep League Most Valuable Player Abby Deckop, were the chief catalysts in Prep's rise to a 10-2 league mark that was good for a shared title with Mayfield and propelled the squad to a home opener in the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs.
"It was an exciting season, these girls did a great job of just fighting every game and finding ways to win," Rebels Coach Julie Jaime said. "We had a complete team; we had pitching, we had hitting, we had defense, which is why we were able to experience so much success this year."
Van der Goot, a senior, turned in a stellar overall campaign, going 11-2 in 16 appearances with a 1.18 earned-run average and 190 strikeouts to 13 walks. She turned in a season-defining performance in the regular-season finale, spinning a no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Westridge that clinched the first league title for the program since 1995.
"I worked hard and I'm glad my effort was recognized, but I care more so about the team than individual awards," said van der Goot, a right-hander, who held opponents to a .174 batting average. "I want to help the team all the time, we want to win games and I'm glad that my pitching could help them do that."
Deckop, a senior third baseman, provided some punch to the lineup as cleanup hitter, batting .333 with a team-high 17 runs batted in and five doubles, while also scoring nine runs.
"I was really surprised and obviously really excited [to get MVP]," Deckop said. "All the coaches had been keeping it from me for a couple weeks. I was honored. I just thought of so many other people who deserved it as much as I did and it was really nice to be recognized by other coaches.
"I was excited having that [run-producer] role because I was pretty confident in my hitting this year. I looked forward to getting up to bat. It was a lot of fun and I loved seeing how versatile our lineup was."
Joining van der Goot and Deckop on the first team was senior catcher Alina Okamoto, who batted .356 with 16 runs scored, four RBI and four doubles.
Second-team nods went to freshman first baseman Chelsea Johnson and middle infielders Ashley Kim, a sophomore, and Kelly Wang, a senior.
Johnson batted .371 with seven RBI and 10 runs scored, Kim batted .339 with a team-high 21 runs, seven RBI and four doubles and Wang batted .327, scored 13 times and drove in seven runs.
"[Winning the league title] was awesome," Deckop said. "We've been working for this for years and to give it to Coach Jaime for our senior year was awesome. …I don't think it could have been sweeter."