Ashby an MVP again

GLENDALE — Though Crescenta Valley High and Burroughs shared the Pacific League softball title this past season, once more it was Falcons standout Erin Ashby that stood alone as the league’s most valuable player.

Not since Arcadia’s Jenna Rodriguez in 2007 had a player won consecutive Pacific League MVPs and not since Crescenta Valley’s Meredith Cervenka in 2001 had a player won consecutive outright MVPs in the league. Thus, the Stanford-bound Ashby left an indelible mark on Crescenta Valley and the Pacific League.

“It feels really good,” said Ashby of the honor — the fifth straight for a Falcons player, either outright or shared. “It just kinda shows that the more hard work you put in, you benefit from it.

“It’s such an honor to be selected.”

Falcons Coach Dan Berry explained the criteria for the league’s MVP as the player any coach would begin with when starting to build a team.

“Based upon the fact that she can hit, pitch, run and field, she fit that description,” he said. “There were a lot of good players in the league, but I think her versatility put her at the top.”

Ashby hit .636 on the season with 47 runs, 43 runs batted in and 10 home runs, while going 15-3 in the circle with a 2.02 earned-run average and 124 strikeouts in 97 innings pitches. During league action — which is the premise for the voting — she led the Pacific with a .653 average and 26 runs and was second with five home runs and 29 RBI. She also tallied a 1.31 ERA in league and a 10-1 record.

Across the first team, 10 of the 11 slots were taken by area players: Heather Haynes, Haley Schulman and Shannon Trujillo of Burroughs, Kelly Bako, Hannah Cookson and Jessica Morena of Crescenta Valley, Crystal Diaz and Katie Hooper of Burbank, Kaitlyn Williams of Hoover and Casey Ramirez of Glendale.

The Indians (19-8) shared the league championship after winning it outright in 2010 and were led by Trujillo, a junior catcher, Haynes, a junior pitcher and Schulman, a junior pitcher/designated player.

“Getting [six] on all-league is about as good as it gets,” said Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol, who completed his first season with the team. “It was also nice to have three first-teamers.”

Trujillo paced a Burroughs offense that had a .366 team batting average. Along with a .430 average (33 for 86), she had eight home runs, seven doubles, 34 RBI, 33 runs scored and a .907 slugging percentage.

“No one in league hit better than Shannon,” said Nicol of Trujillo, who hit .451 in league with 13 extra-base hits, 20 RBI and 21 runs. “I don’t care who was named the player of the year from our league. No one was as valuable to their team as she was. She had just an awesome year, probably one of the best years in Burroughs history.”

Haynes was Burroughs’ ace in the circle, finishing with a 9-2 record and a 2.17 ERA with 68 strikeouts in nearly 70 innings. She also hit .292 with 14 RBI. Haynes had a 2.24 league ERA and went 5-1 in league.

Schulman did it in the circle and with her bat as well. The junior hit .471 (33 for 70) with seven doubles, 20 RBI and 20 runs scored and was 7-5 with a 1.46 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 54 innings.

The Indians were also well-represented on the second team with senior third baseman Hallie White (.340 average, 17 RBI), senior first baseman Taylor Buliavac (.462 average, 31 runs) and junior shortstop Allie Grimaldo (.305 average).

The Falcons went 21-4 overall and 13-1 in league with Cookson, a freshman left fielder, doing more than her share. She belted seven home runs and drove in 45 runs, while hitting .538 and scoring 33 runs.

“She did well. We were really not sure how she was gonna fit in,” said Berry of Cookson, who hit .537 in league with 26 RBI. “It was hard to pitch to her when you already had Erin on base. … She can only get better. She’s gonna mature within the sport.”

Bako, a senior catcher, hit .264 for the season with 17 runs and eight RBI, but in league hit .440 with 15 runs and six RBI.

“She was very instrumental in key hits and getting things done,” Berry said. “She did extremely well back there [at catcher] in terms of being a leader.”

Morena, a sophomore utility, hit .455 with 19 runs and 15 RBI.

“She had some key hits in league and was not afraid to go up and swing the bat,” said Berry of Morena, who hit .436 in league with nine runs and eight RBI.

Getting second-team nods for CV were senior first baseman Sydney House and junior third baseman Allison Lacey.

“She had a very good year for us,” said Berry of House, a first-team all-league pick a season ago.

House hit .479 with 19 runs and 25 RBI for the season and .419 with 16 RBI and nine runs in league.

Lacey, who was a second-teamer for a second-straight year, hit .318 with 25 runs and 18 RBI. She had a .371 league average and scored 18 runs.

“She’s just a mature leader who did an outstanding job for us,” Berry said.

Burbank (12-14, 10-4 in league) placed third in the Pacific League. The Bulldogs were rewarded with four all-league award winners.

The program’s first-team honorees were Hooper, a sophomore outfielder, and Diaz, a sophomore pitcher.

“I’m very pleased with our all-league selections,” Burbank Coach Nicole Drabecki said. “Katie really led us with her bat and I feel a lot of the close games that we won we wouldn’t have been able to do that without Crystal Diaz in the circle.”

Hooper had team bests in batting average (.539), hits (48), RBI (45), runs (32), home runs (nine), triples (seven), on-base percentage (.559) and slugging percentage (1.067). She also struck out just four times in 66 at-bats. Hooper led the league with 35 RBI and was second to Ashby with a .640 average and 25 runs.

Diaz had a 10-9 record and a 2.30 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 125 innings pitched. In league, Diaz was 2.27 with an 8-4 record.

Making the second team for Burbank was junior shortstop/third baseman Nalani Hernandez (.414 average, 29 hits) and sophomore infielder Laina Do (.362 average, 16 RBI).

 “The great thing about that group of girls is that they are all sophomores, except for Nalani, who’s a junior,” Drabecki said. “So, next year we’ll have a really good core group coming back.”

Glendale finished fifth in league at 6-8 thanks in large part to Ramirez, a senior pitcher, notching wins down the stretch against Arcadia and Hoover. It was Ramirez’ second straight first-team nod. Nitros sophomore Meghan Spencer earned a second-team all-league selection for the second season in a row.

Hoover (9-15, 4-10 for sixth place in league) was led all year by sophomore Kaitlyn Williams, who was a first-team selection a year after being tabbed for the second team. Williams, an infielder and pitcher, hit .469 (30 for 64) with 18 runs and 15 RBI. For league, she hit .444 with 11 RBI and 12 runs.

“I’ve always thought Kaitlyn was one of the best players in the league,” Hoover Coach Rich Henning said. “She plays great defense and she’s very explosive at the plate.”

Hoover junior center fielder Kenya Buckley was a second-team pick who hit .419 with 25 runs, 14 walks and eight stolen bases.

“Kenya’s got so much speed it’s just incredible,” Henning said. “She puts the ball on the ground and gets that big hop, no one’s gonna get her. Along with that, she’s probably the best [fielding] center fielder in the league.”

Honorable mention went to Burroughs senior outfielder Jessica Rodriguez (.450 average), Crescenta Valley senior outfielder Delaney Gay (.276 average, 16 runs), Burbank sophomore first baseman Tiffany Pisa (.403 average, 25 hits), Hoover senior first baseman Natalie Barcena (.259 average, .394 on-base percentage) and Glendale’s Brenna Cancilla.

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