The Bay Valley Conference softball coaches have announced their All-Conference selections for the 2017 season. The second-place Mendocino College Eagles garnered five selections, including the Most Valuable Player Award.
This year’s Bay Valley MVP was the Eagles’ freshman first baseman Mykala Ramsey of Ukiah. Also selected, all First Team, were two sophomores, shortstop Aliza Atkins (Clear Lake HS) and third baseman Brianna Johnson (Fort Bragg HS) and two freshmen, center fielder Hannah Norwood (Clear Lake HS) and catcher Hannah Flynn (Middletown HS).
All five players showed themselves to be quite capable both in the field and in the batter’s box.
Defensively, the Eagles were strong up the middle, starting with Flynn behind plate. Rarely did a pitch elude her grasp, including those well off the plate or in the dirt. Several times she also was on the receiving end of throws home from her teammates attempting to throw out runners at the plate. On nearly all those occasions, she not only caught the throw, but also blocked the plate, and held on to the ball while applying the tag to the sliding runner.
At short, Atkins, who played the position in high school before manning third last year for the Eagles, showed great range on ground balls and a strong arm gunning runners out at first. She also ranged into the outfield to catch shallow fly balls.
For longer fly ball balls hit from left to right center, shallow or deep, it was almost a sure bet that they would be caught by the speedy, sure-handed Norwood. She made all the routine caches and several of the catches of the spectacular variety. She was a fly ball’s worst nightmare.
She was also adept at cutting off balls lined into the gaps and making quick, strong throws to keep the runners from taking extra bases, a couple times throwing out runners who dared to try.
Johnson at third and Ramsey at first played stellar corner defense for the Eagles, with Johnson digging out hot shots hit in her direction or fielding bunts up the line and making strong throws to first where Ramsey provided the big stretch and sure glove to record the putout. Both were also adept at catching infield popups.
In the 12 conference games played, Johnson, Ramsey, and Flynn made just one error. Norwood made no errors.
The five players’ defense alone probably would have merited them starting positions in the lineup. But had they not been so good defensively, their work with the bats also would also have merited them being starters.
The five were usually in the top half of the order in conference play, with Norwood usually batting near the top and getting on base with slap hits to the left side or bunts which she most often legged out with her speed. On one occasion, she hit a routine ground ball to the second baseman and beat the throw to first. She led the team in stolen bases with 12.
But she wasn’t all about speed. She also had power, collecting 5 doubles and 2 triples. She scored 18 runs. She hit for a .512 average, had an on base percentage of .545 and a slugging percentage of .732.
Atkin barely edged Norwood out in batting average, hitting at a .513 clip and in doubles with 6. Atkins also had 2 triples and scored 18 runs. She was the team leader with 5 walks. She led the team leader with 17 RBIs. She stole 5 bases. Her on base percentage was .568 and her slugging percentage .732.
Johnson had the lowest batting average of the five all-conference players; a not so shabby.472. She had 17 hits in conference play, 9 of them doubles and one a home run. She tied for third on the team in RBIs with 15. She had a very respectable on base percentage of .525 and a lofty .806 slugging percentage.
Flynn was near the top of the list in several batting categories. She was third on the team in runs scored with 14, tied for the team lead in hits with 22. She was second in doubles with 8. She also had a triple and home run. She tied for third on the team with 15 RBIs. She had the top batting average on the team at .564, the second highest on base percentage at .575 and the second highest slugging percentage at .897.
Finally, conference MVP Ramsey produced stellar numbers across the board. She was the team leader in runs scored with 22. She tied for the lead in hits with 22. She led the team in extra base hits with 12, including 6 doubles, 6 triples and 2 home runs. She was second on the team in RBIs with 16, steals with 9 and batting average at .550. She had the top on base percentage with a .581. The capper was her team-leading astronomical slugging percentage of 1.150!