Making their presence known

Records were set, expectations were realized and playoff runs were made in the 2009-10 sports season in La Cañada.

Whether it was swimming, basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer or track and field, the area had its share of fine individual female performers from a number of schools.

Those athletes won All-Area, All-CIF Southern Section, all-league and even All-American accolades. They were also instrumental in helping their respective teams earn CIF and league success.

Here are the top-10 female high school athletes of the year in La Cañada, as voted on by the sports editors and writers of the La Cañada Valley Sun and Glendale News-Press.

1 Andrea Kropp, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, swimming, senior — She showed she wasn't rusty at all after taking a one-year break from swimming to run cross-country for the first time ever her junior year. It wasn't a vacation for Kropp, as she emerged as the Tologs' best runner in the program's banner year, as they finished fifth at the Division IV State Meet.

Kropp picked up right where she had left off in the pool. She claimed league titles in the 200-meter individual medley and 100 breaststroke, breaking four school records her senior year in the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, (including two of her past records in the) 200 breaststroke and 200-individual medley.

High school swimming wasn't the only place where Kropp left a ripple in the water. She swam in the 2008 Olympic trials and became the national 18-and-under champion in the 200 breaststroke at the 2010 ConocoPhilips National Championships in early August.

Now Kropp heads to Princeton University to see what else she can add to her list of achievements.

2 Courtney McCutchan, La Cañada, basketball and volleyball, senior — McCutchan struck fear in the hearts of her opponents when she stepped into the gym, whether she was playing basketball or volleyball.

Never taking a game off her senior year, McCutchan was named an all-tournament player in each basketball tournament she played. She led the Spartans in scoring and blocked shots and was second in rebounds and assists. La Cañada went undefeated in league with a 24-4 record and made it to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs.

When they put the net up in the middle of the gym, McCutchan was still dominant. She led the Spartans in kills (390) and aces (48) and was second in digs (230).

With McCutchan serving as captain of the Spartans' volleyball team, La Cañada achieved a 26-8 record, went undefeated in league and made it to the CIF Southern Section Division II championship game and the quarterfinals of the CIF State Division II playoffs.

McCutchan is headed to Lehigh University on a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball after her final year of high school as an all-league and All-CIF first-team volleyball player. She drew statewide attention as well, being named a Prep Volleyball High School Academic All-American and making MaxPreps' All-California State Team.

3 Katy Campbell, La Cañada, swimming, sophomore — Campbell had more success in her two first years as a high school swimmer than most can hope to experience in their entire career.

After being named an All-American in three events her sophomore year, it will be interesting to see how Campbell tops that next season. The three All-American times came at the CIF Southern Section Division II Swimming and Diving Championships this May.

When the playoffs start, Campbell doesn't back down. She won two more CIF titles this year after a freshman year where she won the CIF title in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:53.04. Outdoing herself this year, Campbell reset personal-best times in the 500 freestyle (4:47.69) and the 200 freestyle (1:49.71), which were both good for CIF titles.

Campbell's third All-American award came with her participation as the anchor in the 200 freestyle relay at CIF, as her group finished with a time of 1:38.54.

Next year Campbell will look to replicate her success as competition heats up for the Spartans, who are moving up a division.

4 Natalie Zeenni, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, soccer, junior — When the Tologs needed shutdown defense, they called upon Zeenni. Her efforts led Sacred Heart to the CIF Southern Section Division II semifinals for the first time; as they went on to win the Southern California Division III Regional Championship.

Zeenni, the All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year, bounced between center-back and midfield, skillfully filling each position. She served as captain of the Tologs' defense that produced a school-record 15 shutouts and a 22-1-4 record (7-0-3 in the competitive Mission League).

The numbers and leadership Zeenni showcased made her an All-CIF Southern Section Division II first-team member and the league's defensive player of the year, which was her second consecutive all-league accolade.

"She became the captain of the defense, which is what we wanted her to do," Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace said. "At the beginning of the year, we were calling the plays, at the end of the year, she was calling her own plays."

5 Anna Edwards, La Cañada, softball, junior — Whenever Edwards stepped to the plate, odds were she was going to come through with a hit. Her bat found a hole in the defense more than half the time, as she put together a .580 batting average, striking out just four times in 88 at bats.

Edwards finished her junior year with 40 runs, 35 runs batted in, 15 stolen bases, nine home runs and nine doubles. When all those stats were combined, it was enough to earn her the Most Valuable Player in Rio Hondo League.

"Edwards does everything; plays great defense and is one of the leaders on our team," Spartan softball Coach KC Matthews said. "Her bat speaks for itself."

La Cañada High also enjoyed a run to the CIF Division V semifinals, as they went 25-5 (10-2 in Rio Hondo League).

Coming back for her senior year, Edwards and the Spartans will be looking to go deeper in the playoffs.

6 Lauren O'Leary, La Cañada, softball, junior — O'Leary served as the first swing of the Spartans' one-two pitching punch last year. O'Leary started most games and posted a 19-4 record.

The Spartans felt like they were in every game with O'Leary in the circle. In her junior year, La Cañada reached the CIF Division V semifinals, partially in thanks to O'Leary's arm. Her 114.2 innings pitched, 165 strikeouts and 19 wins were all team bests. She also added a 0.61 ERA and limited opposing hitters to miniscule a .126 batting average.

O'Leary's craftiness in the circle earned first-team All-CIF honors and she was named the co-Rio Hondo Most Valuable Pitcher.

7 Breeana Koemans, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, soccer, sophomore — For the first time ever, the Tologs won the Southern California Division III Regional Championship after a run into the CIF Southern Section Division II semifinals.

Koemans, an All-Area first-team member, finished the season with 19 goals and 54 points. Her 16 assists were good for a school-record. She was named to the all-league first team and All-CIF second team.

8 Katie Johnson, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, soccer, sophomore — Johnson's leg proved to be an integral part of the Tologs soccer team. The team made a run to the CIF Southern Section Division II semifinals and won the Southern California Division III Regional Championship.

The Mission League dubbed Johnson its Offensive Player of the Year, thanks to her 23 goals and nine assists for 55 points. Her resume earned her All-Area and All-CIF first-team accolades. . after helping the Tologs finish 22-1-4 and 7-0-3 in league.

9 Brooke Elby, Flintridge Prep, soccer and track and field, junior — Elby showed her versatility her junior year as a two-sport athlete. As a midfielder and forward on the soccer field, Elby scored 12 goals and notched eight assists, accumulating 32 points, after missing part of the season due to injury.

For her efforts, Elby was named the league's tri-most valuable player and was an All-Area first-team selection, as the Rebels won a share of the Prep League championship.

When Elby transitioned from the grass to the track she still had plenty to offer. She finished first in league in the 300-meter hurdles and the 400. Her time of 47.73 seconds in the 300 hurdles was the fastest time in the area and good for eighth at the CIF Southern Section Division IV final at Cerritos College. in Norwalk.

10 Lauren Cox, La Cañada, softball, sophomore — Cox was the second half of the dominant Spartans' pitching duo. When the fifth inning rolled around, Cox was usually brought in to shut the door and close out the game for a victory, as she accumulated six saves.

The Spartans' 25-5 record, which earned them the Rio Hondo League title last year, was partly in thanks to her 0.35 ERA and .115 opponent's batting average, which were team bests. Cox also totaled 161 strikeouts.

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