Amador Valley’s Johanna Grauer earns same state award that her coach was named as winner in 1992. Four others also gain state player of year recognition.
In addition to Ms. Softball State Player of the Year Emily Lockman, congratulations also go out to our other state players of the year for juniors, sophomores, freshmen, medium schools and small schools. Thanks to Harold Abend and Paul Muyskens for contributing to these writeups.
Gabrielle Maurice (Johansen, Modesto)
Although Maurice, the 2011 State Sophomore of the Year, had in some respects an even better season as a junior, this was not an easy selection.
Maurice, who has committed to UCLA and has been chosen as the Modesto Bee’s Player of the Year for the second straight season, did not play for a championship team. Johansen, in fact, struggled mightily in the second half of the season after the team’s only pitcher left the team for personal reasons.
Still, Maurice put up astronomical numbers and there was not another highly-regarded junior, such as Sierra Hyland from El Diamante of Visalia or Samantha Cordova from Edison of Huntington Beach, who was able to lead her team to a section championship, either. Kylie Reed of Norco and Raeann Garza from James Logan of Union City also were strongly considered.
In 23 games, Maurice batted .614 with a .704 on-base percentage due to being walked 17 times. She was in the leadoff position in the order, but still had 27 RBIs and hit nine home runs. Maurice also had 10 doubles, 36 runs, four triples and went 18-for-18 on steal attempts. She’ll take a 41-for-41 total on steals attempts for the last two years into next season.
On the club level, Gabby is equally admired. She bats in the No. 3 spot in the order on one of the top-ranked 18 Gold teams in the nation.
The last CIF Sac-Joaquin Section player to be State Junior of the Year was Jolene Henderson from Sheldon of Sacramento in 2008. Henderson was the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year for Cal this past season.
Johanna Grauer (Amador Valley, Pleasanton)
After she was selected as the only sophomore to be a finalist for Ms. Softball, it was pretty much a given that the Arizona State commit that led the team to a FAB 50 No. 5 and Cal-Hi Sports No. 3 ranking this year would be named State Sophomore of the Year.
No pitcher in the entire state was more dominant than this lookalike of 2007 Sophomore of the Year Jolene Henderson. Even in the 26-1 team’s 1-0 setback in the CIF North Coast Section Division I title game to James Logan of Union City, Grauer tossed a three-hitter with 17 strikeouts.
For the season, Grauer finished with a 24-1 record with 20 shutouts, a 0.33 ERA on only eight earned runs in 171 innings pitched, 48 hits in 607 batters faced, and 328 strikeouts for a state-leading 13.12 strikeouts per game. She also had a .356 batting average as one of the team’s top hitters.
Coming into next season as a junior, she will almost certainly get stronger over the summer and increase her 66-67 mile-per-hour top velocity, and with almost all her teammates returning, look for Grauer to be among the state’s elite players once again.
An interesting twist is since Cal-Hi Sports began naming a sophomore of the year in 1975, Grauer is only the second winner from the NCS. The first is her coach, Julie Marshall, who was the 1992 honoree while at Liberty of Brentwood.
Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark)
Showing why she has already given a verbal commitment to NCAA power Florida, Lorenz hit .553 with 12 doubles and seven home runs. She also scored 29 times and knocked in 31 runs.
After helping the Musketeers capture a piece of the Marmonte League championship for the first time in school history, Lorenz also was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year. She’s also already been on the Los Angeles Daily News All-Area first team and was the lone freshman to be named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I first team.
Interestingly, the last freshman from Ventura County to be State Freshman of the Year was Nancy Bowling from Royal of Simi Valley four years ago. Bowling faced Lorenz in two games this season.
Nisa Ontiveros (Ridgeview, Bakersfield)
This was another very tough choice, but for what Ontiveros did as both a hitter and pitcher in her career she got the nod over a pair of players – Nikki Girard and Nikki Innamorato – from Division III State Team of the Year Chino Hills.
Ontiveros, who has signed with NCAA powerhouse Cal, posted a 24-3 pitching record with a 0.40 ERA. She also struck out 256 batters in 170 innings.
At the plate, Ontiveros was even more damaging. She batted nearly .500 and blasted 15 home runs with 55 RBIs.
Although Ridgeview and Ontiveros fell short of winning a second straight CIF Central Section Division III title (the Wolfpack lost to Hanford West), it’s not as if she never led a team to a section crown.
Ontiveros is the first State Medium Schools Player of the Year from the CIF Central Section. Her coach, Jerry Dumatrait, was the State Medium Schools Coach of the Year for last season.
Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson)
As a finalist for Ms. Softball, and with the kind of season and career she’s had both in the circle and at the plate, it was an obvious choice to make the Oregon-bound left-handed pitcher and slugger the small schools player of the year.
After a junior season that saw her become only the eighth player to have over 500 strikeouts in a season with 510, she mowed down the opposition again this year to lead her team to its second straight CIF Northern Section Division IV championship.
Hawkins finished with a 0.69 ERA in 203.1 innings pitched. In her last two games, she had 30 strikeouts combined and finished the season leading the state in strikeouts once again with 440 fanned.
Her career 1,221 strikeouts, and each of the season strikeout marks, earn Hawkins a spot in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book on the respective lists.
As a batter this season, Hawkins hit .551 on 59 hits with four home runs, 20 doubles, 46 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
When she heads to Oregon, Hawkins will join former Sutter pitcher Jessica Moore, who pitched for the Ducks in this year’s College Softball World Series. Moore was the last from the CIF Northern Section to be State Small Schools Player of the Year. She did it in 2009.
Corrections or comments? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.