It's hard for Anna Edwards to keep quiet on the softball field. In fact, she'd say it's nearly impossible.
"I always have something to say," said Edwards, a standout on the La Cañada softball team. "I am so into it, it's hard for me to just sit back and watch. If I have something to say, I have a hard time not saying it."
Each game when the Spartans are on offense, Edwards can be seen sitting on a bucket, hanging just outside the team's dugout, intently watching and shouting tips or words of encouragement to her teammates while they bat.
Her habits have gotten her in a little bit of trouble with umpires. In almost every CIF Southern Section Division V playoff game so far this season, the home-plate official has had to ask Edwards to get back inside the dugout. The umpire in Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division V semifinal game had to ask her to do so twice.
KC Mathews sees his senior standout shortstop doing this sort of thing every day, whether it's during a game or practice. He talks about Edwards like she's one of his assistant coaches.
"We rely on her a lot," Mathews said. "Sometimes kids hear messages differently from a teammate than a coach. With her knowledge of the game, she's a tremendous resource to the coaches and the team as well. The kids do listen to her and if Anna isn't talking, we got a problem. She's one of our leaders offensively and the girls respect her."
Edwards has had another fantastic season her senior year, leading the Spartans in batting average (.482), home runs (11), runs batted in (30) and stolen bases (nine). In four playoff games, she's hitting .500 (five for 10) with seven runs scored, three RBI and two home runs.
Her efforts have helped the Spartans advance to their first CIF title game since 1995. No. 1 La Cañada (25-3) will get a chance to claim the division title at 5:15 p.m. Friday in a game against No. 2 Beaumont at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.
As a junior, Edwards was named the Rio Hondo League's Most Valuable Player after leading her team in nearly every offensive category, including batting average (.580), slugging percentage (1.034), runs scored (40), RBI (35), stolen bases (15) and home runs (nine). She struck out just four times in 88 at-bats. The statistics don't come easy, though.
"This is like my life," Edwards said. "I put 100% of my effort into this. I work hard every single day and if I don't try my hardest I can't go to sleep. It means the world to me."
Lauren O'Leary, Edwards' teammate and La Cañada's ace in the circle, appreciates having a player of Edwards' caliber in her dugout.
"It's really nice having her as a teammate because you know every game she is going to come out and get a bunch of hits for the team," O'Leary said.
While Edwards is known for her prowess at the plate, she's just as skilled with the glove at short.
"She's very sharp defensively," Mathews said. "Because she is so good defensively people expect that from her. We're very lucky to have her holding down shortstop for us."
O'Leary knows Edwards is going to get to almost every ball hit her way.
"She's really solid defensively and if you ever get into a tough situation you know she's always going to be there to make the tough play," O'Leary said.
It's hard to find an aspect of the game where Edwards isn't solid.
"She is a five-tool player," Mathews said. "She doesn't have a weakness. I'd say she's a six-tool player with her mental game."
Edwards is taking all five tools with her to play softball for Northwestern University next year.
"Anna is going to be successful no matter where she is, no matter what she does," Matthews said. "She is that driven and that focused. I look forward to watching her on TV for a long time at Northwestern."
For now, Edwards is focused on the task at hand, winning a CIF championship.
"I feel this is definitely the year to do it," Edwards said. "Next year we'll be good but this year it's like everything is falling into place."