When the postseason awards were released this week, it was clear High Desert League coaches believed the Cougars were an all-star team. Their numbers were distinguished greatly from the rest of the league.
Twelve members of Spanish Springs earned postseason honors, including eight named to the all-HDL first team. While Reed, the second best squad in the state, only had two players on the league's first team.
For the third straight year, the Cougars took home the top two honors. Senior catcher Jaci Carlsen followed in the footsteps of Mallary Darby and Amanda Collier as the High Desert League Player of the Year, following her breakout season.
Carlsen hit .526 with 14 home runs and drove in over 70 runs.
“Jaci has been phenomenal all four years,” SSHS softball coach Jeff Davidson said. “I told her when she hit her second home run at state in the championship game, she was the best hitter I've ever coached and I've been coaching for over 30 years. She only had four strikeouts the entire year, and I wouldn't want anyone else up in the clutch because she battles and never gives in.”
Darby was lights out in the circle, much like she has been for her four-year career at Spanish Springs. Darby, who went 18-3 with 186 strikeouts and a sub-0.25 ERA, was named the HDL's Pitcher of the Year.
Also joining Carlsen and Darby on the first team were outfielders Ashley Decker (.586 BA) and Ashley Collier, infielders Amanda Collier and Jen Martensen, pitcher Annalee Rubio and designated hitter Karlyn Jones.
Oddly enough, the Raiders had as many first teamers as Bishop Manogue, which finished out of the playoff hunt.
“In my opinion, all the all-league stuff is hard because people like to vote for their players. Sometimes it doesn't work out for your team,” Reed softball coach Ray Charles said. “It's kind of disappointing we don't have more first teamers. But at the same time, coaches only have two votes for their own players. There's a reason why it's hard to become an all-conference player.”
However, Reed second baseman Ali Berry and pitcher Chelsea Cohen certainly deserved first-team nods.
Berry led the team in hitting at about .444 and hit eight home runs with approximately 30 RBIs according to Charles.
Cohen was the team's ace and went against some stiff competition this year. She managed a solid 17-10 record, but her ERA was stellar, around 1.40.
Rounding out the rest of the Raiders' all-league selections were — outfielder Tia Wunder, shortstop Brooke Silva, utility player Kristy Pasley and pitcher Destiny Levesque on the second team — and honorable mention Alex Corona. Levesque was a pleasant surprise since she did not see much action. However, she did go 6-0 in league games.
“She's a tough little pitcher. I'm excited for her,” Charles said. “Her or Kristy could have gotten it for pitcher.”
Spanish Springs' other two starting position players, shortstop Dani Ming and outfielder Rebecca Davidson were also selected to the second team.
Karley Hopkins and Stevie Trevino were on the honorable mention list.
Despite the disappointing way Sparks' season played out, six Railroaders still impressed fellow 3A North coaches.
Ally Tallman led the team in hitting with a .508 batting average and was voted second team designated hitter. Ironically, she only committed four errors on the year and could have been recognized for her defense as well.
Third baseman Jesse Perry batted at a .428 clip and earned second-team recognition, as did Roberta Porter.
Sparks' honorable mentions were Kristina Avilla, Sabrina Martinez and Amanda Mahan.