(After games of Tuesday, May 15)
Here are this week’s high school softball players of the week. One player is chosen from each region of the country. The only other criteria is that no player will be chosen more than once during a season.
Natalya Smarra, Sto-Rox (McKees Rocks, Pa.)
The senior right-handed pitcher hurled a five-inning perfect game and batted in four runs as the Vikings (18-0) blanked Avella (Pa.) 14-0 in the first round of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Class A tournament. The four-year starter, who was a catcher/shortstop as a freshman before taking over the main pitching role as a sophomore, improved to 16-0 this season with a 1.09 ERA. She also has a .522 batting average and plans to play in college.
Cristina Sacramento, Pembroke Pines Charter (Fla.)
If Niceville (Fla.) had won the Class 6A state title, it would have finished as Florida’s No. 1-ranked team for the season and would have been no worse than No. 7 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings. But Sacramento and her teammates had other ideas as her one-hitter helped pin a 1-0 loss on Niceville’s aspirations. Sacramento ended with 18 strikeouts and just one walk. In the semifinals, the senior standout also shined with a five-hit shutout in a 4-0 win against Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.). In that game, she also went 2 for 4 and drove in the first run. It was Pembroke Pines Charter’s first state title after three runner-up finishes. One of those state title losses prevented the Jaguars (who are now No. 33 in the FAB 50) from being the mythical national champion.
Abbie Voas, Chanhassen (Minn.)
The junior infielder recorded a productive offensive week to lead her 13-4 team to six victories. She went 10 for 19 at the plate with five home runs, three doubles, 12 RBIs and 10 runs scored for the Division 1 team. Voas also set a school record during the week by belting three home runs in a 9-1 victory over New Prague (Minn.).
Abby Donnell, Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas)
A leadoff-hitting phenom who has committed to Texas A&M, Donnell did it all in leading Rider past Canyon (Randall, Texas) 9-0 in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal. Still just a junior, Donnell went 3 for 5 with three runs scored and also pitched a one-hitter with nine strikeouts. In Rider’s earlier 6-2 playoff win over Andress (El Paso, Texas), Donnell went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and pitched a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts. For the season, as 29-5-1 Rider gets ready to play Midway (Waco, Texas) in this week’s regional semifinals, Donnell is batting .594 with 57 hits, including 10 triples.
Heather Morales, Indio (Calif.)
In a 7-3 victory over Coachella Valley (Thermal, Calif.), Morales closed her regular season by smashing two home runs to give her 20 for the season. The junior first base/pitcher has moved to No. 2 on the state's all-time single-season home run list, but may not be able to move up to No. 1 since the record is 27. She also could slip a few spots as several other girls in California are putting up monster home run totals, including Sierra Romero of Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.) with 19. Still, it’s been a breakthrough season for Morales. She had two homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs in a game last month against Cathedral City (Calif.) and hit three home runs in a game twice. She also pitches (7-5, 0.69 ERA, 117 strikeouts) and has committed to play at Hawaii.