First-year head coach Leanna Flores injected some well-needed optimism and a whole new level of intensity to a program that has produced 17 CIF-Los Angeles City Section championship seasons. With the combination of senior leadership and youthful talent all meshing together as one, the Pirates outplayed their own expectations to win the Marine League championship and reach the CIF-LACS Open Division semifinals with a 13-2 record.
One player that made sure her final season counted no matter how it ended and whomever was in her way, was senior third baseman Sierra Sandoval.
The Marine League Player Of The Year hit .481 with six home runs, 29 RBI, 25 hits and six doubles, while also coming through defensively with a ,929 fielding percentage, only committing one error in 14 total chances, as opposing teams rarely hit the ball her way.
Sandoval made her presence felt when the games mattered most, hitting a walk-off grand slam to run rule Gardena in one game, hitting two home runs in another game against Banning of Wilmington, while also coming up clutch in the league-title deciding win over Carson on May 27 with three critical RBIs, two of which on a gap-splitting opposite field double.
The four-year letter-winner adds a new honor to her resume, the 2021 San Pedro News Pilot Prep Softball Player Of The Year.
Despite Sandoval's incredible final year, she was one of many dangerous sticks on the Pirates' roster, that also included fellow seniors Kirstin Sanchez (.491 BA, 2 HR, 14 RBI) and Jo Jo Krause (.429, 4 HR, 17 RBI), along with talented freshmen Madison Fao (.312 BA, 3 HR, 11 RBI) and Izabella Galan (.625 BA, 2 HR, 11 RBI). Junior Vanessa Reed emerged as well, both at the plate and in the circle in becoming the Marine League's Co-Pitcher Of The Year.
Port Of Los Angeles finished 5-4 overall and was runner-up in the Coliseum League at 4-2, with both losses coming to rival Harbor Teacher Prep of Wilmington. Due to few players not being able to compete at the end of the regular season due to travel softball obligations, the Polar Bears opted out of competing in the CIF-LACS Division 2 playoffs. POLA loses three seniors who have all signed on to play next level softball with Larissa Mercado (Lawrence Tech) and the Torstensen twin sister duo of Faith and Gracie (York College-Nebraska) all heading out in the Fall.
A young Mary Star team wasn't able to hang with the tougher competition in their first year of competing in the Del Rey League, only winning one of their twelve games in 2021. That one win, was a 3-1 triumph at St. Joseph of Lakewood on May 24. The Stars have hope for the future with freshmen Mina Tala and Jocelin Mayorga both making valuable contributions.
(NOTE: Photo by Miguel Elliot)
Here are the full All-San Pedro News Pilot Prep Softball 2021 selections...
ALL-SAN PEDRO NEWS PILOT PREP SOFTBALL 2021
Jo Jo Krause (San Pedro, sr.)
Anissa Vital (Mary Star, jr.)
Madison Fao (San Pedro, fr.)
Camilla Garcia (POLA, fr.)
Kirstin Sanchez (San Pedro, sr.)
Makayla Martinez (San Pedro, sr.)
Ariana Bautista (Mary Star, sr.)
Lexi Buscemi (Mary Star, sr.)
Mikalah Nitta (POLA, fr.)
Vanessa Reed (San Pedro, jr.)
Faith Torstensen (POLA, sr.)
Larissa Mercado (POLA, sr.)
Mina Tala (Mary Star, fr.).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sierra Sandoval (San Pedro, INF, sr.)
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Izabella Galan (San Pedro, OF)
SAN PEDRO NEWS PILOT PAST PREP SOFTBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2012: Marina Vitalich, Mary Star
2013: Marina Vitalich, Mary Star; Nicolle Miranda & Allison Bayer, Port Of Los Angeles
2014: Marina Vitalich, Mary Star
2015: Marina Vitalich, Mary Star & Nicolle Miranda, Port Of Los Angeles
2016: Analise De La Roca, Port Of Los Angeles
2017: Analise De La Roca, Port Of Los Angeles & Andrea Cline, San Pedro
2018: Briana Velazquez, San Pedro & Alessandra Samperio, Mary Star
2019: Ashley Rico (Player) & Alessandra Samperio (Pitcher), Mary Star
2020: Briana Velazquez, San Pedro & Alessandra Samperio, Mary Star