San Pedro, Port Of Los Angeles and Mary Star Of The Sea High Schools all came in relatively young, fresh and full of potential, eager to show their opposition what they were capable of. All three schools combined to have just eight seniors on their respective rosters, while the Pirates and Polar Bears, the two youngest, both started multiple freshmen in their lineups.
It's kind of ironic that both San Pedro and POLA were the two schools that also not only won either a share of or an outright league championship, both their seasons ended in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section semifinals, falling short against the eventual Open Division (El Camino Real) and Division 2 (Garfield) champions in the process.
Behind second-year coach Leanna Flores, the Pirates (13-9) overcame a ragged first half of the season, and the adjustment of playing their home games at the John M. & Muriel Olguin Campus for the first time, to repeat as Marine League champions, finishing in a three-way tie for first with fellow rivals Banning of Wilmington and Carson with an 8-2 mark. The Pirates staked claim to being the team to watch for 2023 by virtue of their Open Division quarterfinal win over the Pilots.
Don't sleep on the Polar Bears (13-3) in 2023 either.
For the first time since 2018, POLA is back on top of the Coliseum League as champions and will return all but one player for next season, with a couple new freshmen who could make an impact for third-year coach Danielle Martinez. Reaching the Division 2 semifinals after consecutive run rule wins over Marquez of Huntington Park and Wilson of Los Angeles gives the Polar Bears' plenty of incentive to build up for a longer run.
Meanwhile, Mary Star (11-13) missed the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 playoffs due to their 2-6 record in the cutthroat Del Rey League, but they too will return plenty of talent for 2023.
As unpredictable as the 2022 season was all around town, the choice for the 2022 San Pedro News Pilot Prep Softball Player Of The Year was even more unpredictable.
San Pedro freshman catcher Brianna Rodela made quite an impact by simply going out there and competing to the best of her abilities, and was able to do that and more.
The All-City Open Division & All-Marine League first team selection was rock solid behind the dish, with 131 putouts in 139 total chances only committing one error, erasing seven would-be base stealers and also helping turn a double play. Rodela also led the Pirates with a .418 batting average and 29 hits (3 doubles, 26 singles) with 11 RBI, proving to be pretty nimble and speedy for a catcher with four bunt singles.
In just ten games of action, POLA junior outfielder Mikalah Nitta converted over from catcher to post an incredible hitting year, batting .613 with five home runs, 18 RBI, 19 hits and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, 19 putouts in 19 chances with zero errors to be named an All-City Division 2 & Coliseum League first team selection along with being named the SPNP Prep Softball Co-Most Outstanding Player with Mary Star junior Fa'tele Jennings.
In only one month of action, Jennings made tremendous strides in her first year after transferring from St. Anthony of Long Beach, hitting a home run in her very first at-bat, ending with three homers on the season for the Stars while covering a lot of ground at her center field position, showing great range on line drives.
Other notables: POLA freshman pitcher Isabella Cardona went 10-3 in the circle for the Polar Bears to be named the Coliseum League Pitcher Of The Year. The San Pedro senior duo of outfielder Lexi 'LuLu' Deleon (.381 BA, 1 HR, 17 RBI) and Brianna Ventura (.300 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI) were named as All-City Open Division selections along with Rodela. DeLeon will be playing in the Fall at William Penn University, while Mary Star senior utility stud Anissa Vital will be playing at Chaminade (Hawaii) University. San Pedro senior P/OF Vanessa Reed will be playing at Alfred University in New York.
(Note: Rodela photo courtesy of Ari Ramirez)
ALL-SAN PEDRO NEWS PILOT PREP SOFTBALL 2021
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
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
2021: Sierra Sandoval, San Pedro