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On the Beat Softball: Saugus' bats overshadowed by its pitching

Posted: May 24, 2014 5:42 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2014 5:42 p.m.

The headliner for Saugus softball all season has been in the pitcher’s circle.

Starter Mariah Lopez, a sophomore already committed to the University of Oklahoma, has received many of the headlines this season.

But overlooked has been a stellar offensive effort up and down the lineup.

And one of the top highlights on that offense is another sophomore headed to an NCAA Division I power conference school.

Sophomore Cayla Kessinger has quietly dominated Foothill League pitching this season.

Kessinger led the co-Foothill League champion Centurions with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in her second season of varsity softball -- all while maintaining a 3.84 GPA.

The University of Missouri commit had a staggering .407 batting average and slugged .756.

“Cayla possesses tremendous pride and passion for the game,” said Saugus head coach Julie Watson. “Not only is she very talented, but she is one of the hardest working athletes I have coached. Through her hard work and determination, she became a leader on and off the field.”

The Centurions will lose senior starters Taylor Kister and Alyssa Rodriguez to graduation, but the return of younger faces such as Kessinger’s and Lopez’s, along with sophomore Ty Cueva, junior Ester Ferreira, junior Kaela Morrow, Cassidy Fitzgerald and sophomore Lindsay Clare make Saugus the early frontrunner for the league title in 2015.

Their situation is a stark contrast to West Ranch, which also won a share of the league title this season but loses eight seniors, including favorite for Foothill League Player of the Year in shortstop and University of Oregon-commit Lauren Lindvall.

That being said, here is our final 2014 softball rankings:

1. West Ranch - A playoff win pushes them above co-champ Saugus in final rankings in a season that saw a third-straight title for the 'Cats.

2. Saugus - Season ended earlier than expected, but future looks bright for Cents.

3. Valencia - Vikings entered the season hoping for a playoff spot and secured third by a wide margin. Next season they should be even stronger.

4. Canyon - Canyon had its ups and downs but battled to make the playoffs and win a wild-card game. 

5. Golden Valley - The most successful season in Golden Valley softball history.

6. Hart - Indians may have finished in last, but are only a couple of pieces away from being a playoff caliber squad.


Divisional challenge: The Foothill League struggled in the 2014 CIF-Southern Section Divison I postseason, with Saugus, Valencia and Canyon falling in the first round, and West Ranch being eliminated in the second round.

The first round took place on the same day the Southern Section announced its new playoff divisions for the 2014-2016 cycle, and the Foothill was left in Division I.

The league had until Friday to appeal for a move down, but in talking to multiple league coaches, the sentiment was largely the same -- there was little to no desire to go anywhere.

And so the league will remain in the section’s top division for at least two more seasons.

Super Regionals: Three local softball products remain alive in the NCAA Division I postseason.

Janelle Lindvall and the No. 1 ranked Oregon Ducks are in the midst of their Super Regional series with Minnesota.

The league is guaranteed to have at least one local make the Women’s College World Series, as Valencia graduate Madison Shipman and her Tennessee Volunteers are battling on the road at the University of Oklahoma, which features Canyon graduate Brittany Williams.

Sister Act: The West Ranch Wildcats were aided by familiar last names this season.

And three of those girls will continue to be surrounded by familiarity when they arrive at the next level.

Julia Lombardi will join her sister Lauren at Long Beach State next season, Taylor Gaff will join her sister Alex at Army and Lindvall will join sister Janelle at the University of Oregon.


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