When it came to the high school sports scene for 2013 in San Pedro in the girls category, no one brought more game and meant so much more to not only two of her teams, but also for an entire school... than Allison Bayer was for Port Of Los Angeles High.
The senior was simply amazing in 2012-2013 during her softball season, where the Polar Bears captured a third consecutive CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division III (Small Schools) championship, and even gained a top ranking in Cal-Hi Sports as the best Division V-based team in all of California. Bayer, currently in her senior season, also made quite an impact for the girls volleyball team in helping lead them to a repeat Crosstown League title.
Bayer mopped up the after-season awards in both sports: a CIF-Los Angeles City Section Small Schools and Crosstown League Player Of The Year honor, the News Pilot 2013 Prep Softball Co-Player Of The Year award, along with a Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass Selection in softball, along with an All-City Section Small Schools and All-Crosstown League selection in girls volleyball.
Now Bayer can add one more crown to her jewel... the 2013 San Pedro News Pilot Prep Sports Female Athlete Of The Year.
"It feels wonderful," Bayer says of her entire 2013 season. "I love being able to look back to my freshman year and think about and watch how much I have grown as a person and player."
Just like some teams, and other athletes, Bayer's 2013 softball year got off to a rough start, as her hitting completely suffered in the early stages of the season at the Redondo Tournament, and a nonleague game at West Torrance, but then the Torrance National Tournament came along... and the mood, and Bayer's swing, was about to change.
"She started to adapt a new approach to hitting and caught on extremely well and it showed in her stats," POLA softball coach Melissa Bugarin-Espinoza said. "Allison broke out of her shell and really enjoyed playing."
The one hit that made it all possible was when Bayer crushed a two-run home run that knocked the portable fence over at Wilson Park in Torrance that sparked the Polar Bears' 7-2 victory over Bishop Gorman of Nevada, a blast that sparked one of the Polar Bear softball parents to yell out proudly: "Welcome back, Alli Sue!"
"After that hit, I just thought I was lucky," Bayer said of that home run. "I didn't think that I was going to end up getting out of the slump I was in. I've come to learn now that that was my turning point, and I need to have confidence in myself in order to succeed. I've struggled with that forever, but last season and this coming season I've realized that it's key to be confident and know that I can do things."
That new-found confidence and belief in herself would rise into a monster season for Bayer, as she hit .444 with 11 home runs and a team-leading 49 RBIs with 44 total hits, and 45 runs scored, banging out 14 doubles. Bayer would provide a whopping 13 multiple-hit games during the season, one of which was exploding against Harbor Teacher Prep on April 19 in going 4-for-6 with a double and six RBIs.
Bayer's favorite moment of her year was the Las Vegas Spring Jamboree Tournament, where team chemistry and camaraderie really grew for POLA.
"(The Spring Jamboree) was the turning point of our season," Bayer said. "We were really able to see who we each were as individuals, and bond to create a stronger force on the field. The one thing I loved most though was making our Harlem Shake video and watching everyone do their thing and actually have fun together."
Oh yeah, Bayer had another majestic home run in that tournament against Long Beach Jordan on March 28, where her three-run home run left a big dent on the scoreboard. "I thought I had popped up at first, but then I watched it sail out and it gave me the confidence I needed to get through the weekend," Bayer said.
April 27 at the El Segundo Tournament gave Bayer another chance to shine on a local stage against Banning of Wilmington, and she seized the moment.
Even though she didn't score or drive in a run, Bayer still managed to go 3-for-4 with a double, and was sharp as a tack defensively during POLA's 4-3 upset win over the Pilots, which ended Banning's 11-game winning streak. In fact, it was Bayer's stretch in fielding a ground ball at first base off a wide throw from second baseman Rosemary Garcia that was the final out of the game.
"It was a huge step on our ladder," Bayer said of the victory over Banning. "Even though we had a few errors and we didn't have our star shortstop (Kelsea Short), everyone contributed tremendously. I was ecstatic that we won and I'm happy that I was able to do my part in getting our win."
The City Section Division III playoffs was Bayer's coming out party.
In four playoff games that also included victories over New Designs of Los Angeles and Legacy of South Gate in the first two rounds, Bayer was simply unstoppable, hitting .714 (10-of-14) with four homers, 3 doubles and 9 RBIs, hitting two homers in the semifinal win over Valley Academy Arts & Sciences of Granada Hills. In the championship victory over Northridge Academy, Bayer went 3-for-5 with two booming doubles, one of which brought in two runs.
"Of the three years I've been in the championship game for softball, (the 2013 team) was the team I felt most confident in," Bayer said. "I went into that game with a clear mind and a big heart knowing that anything could happen. I just wanted to do my part and not sink back down to where I was when I was in my slump."
The amazing thing is... Bayer didn't need or look for a lot of help from others in fine-tuning her hitting.
"Allison definitely put in a lot of work on her own," Bugarin-Espinoza said "She would ask for pointers and was hungry to perfect her at-bat. She really did do all of the little things and found a natural swing. "I give her a lot of respect because I saw how hard she worked and the Saturday extra days she would put in with (teammate and fellow senior) Sarah (Maldonado) hitting off of tees and extra reps in the cages."
Bayer had another swing without her bat... and that's with her right arm in volleyball, where she helped POLA win their second straight Crosstown League title, which they shared with Rancho Dominguez Prep of Long Beach. In an October 9 match against the visiting Lobos, Bayer delivered a thunderous kill down the line in the deciding fifth set to break a 12-12 tie, allowing the Polar Bears to close out the match.
Rancho Dominguez took advantage of Bayer missing the last seven matches of league competition with a broken thumb to garner a share of the league crown, but it didn't diminish the legacy Bayer left in her three years on varsity, which included a CIF-LACS Division IV runner-up finish during her junior season in 2012.
"I feel that I definitely have grown a lot as a (volleyball) player," Bayer said. "I started off not knowing anything about the game and now I can understand what is going on and what would be beneficial to the team, play-wise. It has really been a privilege being able to play for and get to know coach (Felicia) Ivie. She have really made an impact on me as a person and player."
Bayer has one more sports run left in her, and she'll be looking to capture a fourth straight softball championship alongside Short and Maldonado, a goal that all of them are striving for.
"I believe people can expect Allison to put on another prolific year," Bugarin-Espinoza says. "I believe she will put more work and will leave it all on the field to end her career at POLA on a great note. Allison is a very exceptional student/athlete and she will leave her mark as a POLA softball player."
Bayer also gives plenty of credit to both Melissa and her husband Moses for their leadership and motivation.
"I don't know what I would've done if I wasn't able to work with coach Melissa, coach Moe and their family and the other great members of the coaching staff," Bayer says. They have taught me so much about the game and life."
With the drive, desire and determination inside her, Bayer will no doubt look to put the final stamp on what is already a decorated prep sports career at POLA High.
"Every year we grow as a team and I couldn't have asked for a better family," Bayer says. "I have loved every moment of my high school softball career and I can't wait for the 2014 season. Go Bears!"