Mission Viejo gets preseason nod as No. 1, California team has 16 D-1 players on roster. Archbishop Mitty and Alexander Central round out top three.
When researching the Preseason Top 50 Softball teams for MaxPreps Xcellent Softball Rankings, the number of returning starters from the previous season is a good starting point. When two of those returning starters are MaxPreps All-Americans and University of Arizona signees, the upcoming season certainly looks promising on paper.
And with nine teammates who have signed or committed to play Division 1 softball, it’s easy to understand why Mission Viejo (Calif.) is the top team in our preseason softball Top 50.
1. Mission Viejo (Calif.), 26-1 last season
All-Americans and Arizona signees Alyssa Palomino and Taylor McQuillin (MaxPreps National Player of the Year) lead a team where every starter and several substitutes are expected to play Division 1 softball. In all, coach Tony Ybarra has 16 players he expects to play at the next level, including Camryn Ybarra (Orgon State commit), Kayleen Shafer (Oregon State signee), Kyra Snyder (Louisville commit), Allison Harvey (Princeton commit), Bella Loya (Illinois commit), Terra McGowan (Arizona State commit) and four-year starter Bailey Roberson.
Waiting for her chance off the bench is Samantha Dees, who has committed to Illinois. Add to that six other players Ybarra expects to see play college softball one day.
“This is by far the best lineup we have had at Mission,” said Ybarra. “The girls have been dedicated to the sport of softball for years and it is paying off. They compete in practices which will carry on to games.”
He said he would carry 16 players this season and noted that as good as McQuillin is, his second and third pitchers are very talented, too.
2. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 30-1
The Monarchs have two No. 1 pitchers in Desiree Severance and Stephanie Kristo and a roster full of future college players. They’ve lost only 15 games dating back to the end of the 2006 season. During that span, they’ve won 222. Eight starters from last year’s CIF Central Coast Section Division II title team return, including California signee Danielle Bowers.
Coach Brian Yocke is elated as nine seniors return.
“We are looking forward to the upcoming season with pitchers Severance (Drexel signee) and Kristo (Manhattan commit) returning along with catcher Megan Nordin (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo). Offensively, we have Bowers, Haley Wymbs (Seattle signee) and Maddie Kim (Army) to help us score runs.”
3. Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.), 36-0
Working on a 68-game winning streak, ACHS returns Vada Sherrill (North Carolina’s Gatorade Player of the Year) and Kiana Millsaps, who has won 41 games without a loss over the last two seasons. Add transferMakayla Shore and freshman Jackie Little to the mix as well.
Coach Monte Sherrill expects Vada Sherrill and Tiana Batts to score 120 times between them. Vada Sherrill was North Carolina’s 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year and coach Sherrill was MaxPreps National Coach of the Year.
“You better get us early because we’ll get better as the season grows,” said Monte Sherrill, who has a .925 winning percentage as a coach (724-50).
4. Deer Park (Texas), 39-6
Pitchers Erin Edmoundson and Payton McBride combined to go 30-5 and strike out 277 in 207 innings, and they return along with Rhonda Jarvis (Baylor) and Tyler Galena, who drove in 40 runs. The Deer are well-armed for a run at a third state championship in four years. McBride, the MVP of last year’s 8-2 title game victory over The Woodlands, was 19-3 with a 1.24 ERA as a sophomore in 2014. In 129 innings, the Texas A&M pledge fanned 166. McBride proved herself at the plate as well with a .404 average and 34 RBIs.
5. Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.), 29-7
The Lions lost one starter from a team that batted .425 in 2014. Key returnees are Bailey Gaffin (Dixie State),Taylor Kaye (Grand Canyon University), Alyssa DiCarlo (Georgia signee), Kaylin Ayotte and Jailene Carpio, all of whom batted over .400 a year ago. DiCarlo had 34 extra base hits and drove in 63 runs. Fresno State commit Giselle Juarez was 15-2 in the circle as a sophomore.
6. The Woodlands (Texas), 39-4
A pair of sister combinations – Baylor signee Abby Langkamp (26-1) and Emily Langkamp and Tennessee signee Aubrey Leach (51 stolen bases, .586) and Kelcy Leach – are back along with three other starters to lead the Highlanders. Kaitlyn Stavinoha (Massachusetts) and Shelby Dublin (Northwestern State) are also back. Abby Langkamp, a 6-foot lefthander, is 57-6 with a 1.53 ERA in her varsity career.
7. Crown Point (Ind.), 29-1
The Bulldogs return five starters including Miranda Elish (Oregon commit) and Alexis Holloway (Notre Dame commit), who combined to win 29 of 30 games and strike out 332 batters in 184 innings. They also combined for 88 hits and 50 RBIs.
8. Pacifica (Garden Grove, Calif.), 29-4
Led by Faith Canfield (Michigan signee), Irieanna Naea and a healthy Kaley Winegarner (Stanford signee), Pacifica will be hard to beat once again. Pacifica was the lone team to defeat Mission Viejo in 2014.
9. Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.), 63-5
The Senators lost six seniors, but Kailey Stoker, Bailey Moore and Haley Cope are back and ready to continue the tradition. Until a team knocks off Sparkman, the Senators are the top squad in the state. They won their third-straight Class 6A state title last season and fifth since 2006.
10. Bloomingdale (Valrico, Fla.), 27-3
Behind the pitching of senior Lace Smith, Bloomingdale won the 8A state title. Smith is back with a strong supporting cast. Smith, who has committed to Buffalo, posted a 0.79 ERA with 293 strikeouts and a 25-2 record. Leadoff hitter Elizabeth Jackson is one of six starters back for Bloomingdale.
11. Edwardsville (Ill.), 36-4
Led by pitcher Kallen Loveless, Edwardsville returns all but one starter from a 36-4 team. Also back are all-state players Ari Arnold and Rachel Anderson.
12. Aledo (Texas), 31-4
The Yellowjackets return a ton of starting players along with pitcher Lauren Craine, the Texas 4A POY. They won their final 25 games, including a state 4A title. Craine (North Texas signee) went 30-3 as a sophomore in 2013 and helped Aledo reach the state semifinals. In the title run last year, Craine was 26-1. Another UNT signee is second baseman Rhylie Makawe, the 2014 title game MVP, who leads a strong list of returning seniors.
13. Chino Hills (Calif.), 30-6
Six starters return, including sisters Tannon Snow and Taylon Snow, who combined for 133 hits (51 extra base hits), 82 RBIs and 82 runs. Savanna Corr (11-1) returns in the circle. The Snow sisters will play collegiately at Washington. Kylie Michael, who hit .340, returns behind the plate.
14. Kingwood (Texas), 25-10
The Mustangs are led by senior pitcher Ashley Johnson (24-7, 2.31 ERA), who helped Kingwood reach the Class 5A Region II championship series. Rockwall denied the Mustangs a trip to the state Final Four with a 2-1 series victory. Also back are shortstop Lindsay Gregory (.408 and 31 RBIs), Georgie Gonzales (.409, 29 RBIs), Allie Gonzalez (.360), Arianna Zernial (.456), Brittney Bryson (.382) and table setter Sydney Dennis.
15. Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 24-8
Led by pitcher Tamara Statman (.515, 24 extra bases hits and 20 wins, plus 289 strikeouts in 195 innings), Horizon has big goals. The Huskies lost one starter and also return Kaila Jacobi and Gabby Moreno. They earned a first-round bye in D-I last year, but lost their first game to miss out on the final eight. The pieces are in place to make sure Horizon doesn’t come up short again.
18. Carson (Calif.), 28-5
The Colts are a power-hitting team led by Brianna Tautalafua (19 homers), Aniesa Maulupe (13 homers) andHillary Edior (nine homers). They combined for 94 extra base hits last season. Setting the table is Danika Justis (25 steals, .532 average as a sophomore). Carson enters the season riding an 18-game winning streak.
19. Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.), 28-5
Pitcher Samantha Worrell leads a long list of returnees from the state runner-up team. Worrell, a South Florida commit, has earned 50 wins the past two seasons and has 31 career home runs. Other key players includeSarah Harrison, Megan Woodson, Victoria Zarbo and Jordan Miller.
21. Russellville (Ark.), 21-4
Five hitters who batted over .300 return, including senior Andrea Kindrick (.604, plus 299 strikeouts and 0.30 ERA in 21 wins). Other top hitters returning are Victoria Teague (.356), Jocelyn Brown (.389) and Ashley Pizzolato (.316).
23. Flower Mound (Texas), 30-8-1
Texas Tech signee Annelise Oswalt (18-4, .505 batting average) heads the list of nine returnees. Others include Sydney Springfield (LSU commit), Kirsten Shaw, Mikayla Moser, Mauri Jamele, Kellie Wanhanen,Claire Lefner, Chandler Hoagland, Megan Gordon and Reagan Carter.
24. Keystone (La Grange, Ohio), 27-4
Purdue commit Summer Constable (.515, 28 SBs, 50 runs), Sammie Stefan (.467) and Penn State recruitDestiny Weber (.440) return along with pitcher Lauren Shaw (15-4), who averaged better than a strikeout per inning. Also back are Liz Hayes and a pair of future Cleveland State players: Paige Hartley and Madi Cendrosky.
25. Baker (Mobile, Ala.), 64-6
Baker has a strong group returning, led by two first-team all-state selections in senior catcher Lexie Mathis and DH Lacey Sumerlin (86 RBIs, 11 homers). Sumerlin, who struck out just four times in 70 games, has signed with Georgia. Junior outfielder Mary Hannah Smith was an honorable mention all-state pick in 2014.
26. Neshoba Central (Philadelphia, Miss.), 32-2
The Rockets may be young, but they return three pitchers who combined to win 32 games last season. Add 2013 Miss Softball Hailey Lunderman (.626 with 10 triples, three home runs and 56 runs). The top pitcher isAspen Wesley, who went 19-0, including two five-inning no-hitters in the championship series, with a 0.69 ERA last season as a seventh-grader.
27. Licking Valley (Newark, Ohio), 29-6
LVHS returns three all-state players: pitcher Shelby McCombs, infielder Kori Locke and catcher Kori Caughenbaugh.
29. Bloom-Carroll (Carroll, Ohio), 28-4
As long as Taran Alvelo is healthy, the Bulldogs will be difficult to beat. Considered by many as the top-ranked pitcher in the country, Alvelo posted a 0.72 ERA and struck out 378 in 182 innings. She also batted over .400 and drove in 32 runs in 31 games.
30. Santiago (Corona, Calif.), 24-7
Four all-league returnees bolster the chances for a team that batted .385 in 2014 with only two senior starters. And all four pitchers who saw work last season return.
35. Southington (Conn.), 24-0
Kendra Friedt was 23-0 with a 0.36 ERA as a junior in leading the Blue Knights to the state title. She’s back, as are five returning starters who batted .400 or higher in 2014.
36. Pearland (Texas), 27-9
The Oilers batted .377 last year and return eight starters, including Lindsey Stewart (.485, 51 runs, 38 SBs) and junior Alyssa Denham (16-4, 1.19 ERA, 140 strikeouts in 117 innings).
37. Hartselle (Ala.), 36-10
The 5A state champs return pitcher Jada Hayes, who was Class 5A Player of the Year when she went 28-8 with a 1.59 ERA and 235 strikeouts. The Tigers return a slew of talent, including catcher Taylor Wascavage,Hope Cain and Hannah Jenkins.
38. Bayshore (Bradenton, Fla.). 23-5
Miriam Schmoll leads the long list of returnees that also includes LaShara James, Madyson Ramirez andJoanna Muldoon. Schmoll will be an impact player after a 23-5 campaign in 2014.
39. Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.), 22-8
The Warriors return the West Catholic Athletic League Pitcher of the Year in Brynne Fitzpatrick (21-7, 0.60 ERA, 381 strikeouts, 186.1 innings), along with three first-team all-WCAL performers: Catcher-infielderMarcella Kay (.425), Jordan Dawkins (.366) and Alexis Corini.
41. O’Connor (Phoenix), 29-6
The Eagles had only one senior listed on their roster a year ago and appear to be loaded for a deep run led by senior Justyce McClain (.568, 55 runs, 22 RBIs), sophomore Hayley Busby (.454, 23 runs, 30 RBIs) and sophomore Madison Westmoreland (.362, 7 HRs, 40 RBIs).
43. Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.), 32-6
Red Mountain has six straight big-school finals appearances and five straight championships and will be led by senior shortstop Alyssa Fernandez (.395, 8 HRs, 31 RBIs), junior Lindsey Steverson (.273, 22 RBIs) and senior Alexandra Wiley (5-0, 0.44 ERA).
45. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), 24-11
The strength of the Huskies starts in the circle with junior Cheyenne Noli (16-9, 2.18). The offense will be led by sophomore Bella Loomis (.407, 27 runs, 18 RBIs), junior Rachel Foote (.360, 19 runs, 30 RBIs) and juniorNicole Spykstra (.333, 24 runs, 23 RBIs).
46. Bald Knob (Ark.), 26-3
The Bulldogs breezed to a 3A state title and finished No. 65 in the MaxPreps computer rankings. They return junior pitcher Autumn Humes (18-1, 0.88 ERA, .484) and senior Brooke Mason (8-1, 1.25 ERA, .383, 44 RBIs).
47. Rio Rancho (N.M.), 28-4
The Rams, who won a 5A title last year and are now 6A, return seven starters who will feature speed (211 stolen bases last season). Leading the way are BreOnna Castaneda (Utah commit who batted .505, scored 51 runs and drove in 36 while stealing 30 bases), and Venessa Gallegos, who batted .554, scored 49 runs and drove in 36.
48. Cape Fear (Fayetteville, N.C.), 26-4
With Mary Williams in the circle, the Colts might be the best bet to unseat Alexander Central. Williams, who has signed with East Carolina, recorded 247 strikeouts. She was no slouch at the plate either, batting .483 with 11 doubles, four homers and 43 RBIs. With infielders Meghan Wilkinson (.500, 46 RBIs, 24 extra base hits),Natalie Jones (North Carolina State signee) and Haley Cashwell (set state record with 22 consecutive hits and batted .634 with 59 hits), Cape Fear is loaded.