The Calaveras High School softball team had another impressive season.
The Red Hawks captured the Mother Lode League championship for the sixth season in a row. Calaveras also pushed its league winning streak to 67 consecutive games. And Calaveras reached the postseason for the 10th season in a row (there were no playoffs in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19).
Unfortunately for the Red Hawks, they were unable to reach the section championship game for the first time since 2016. Calaveras’ season came to an end in a 14-3 home loss to Wheatland in the semifinals of the D5 playoffs.
Calaveras finished the year with an overall record of 19-3 while going a perfect 15-0 in the league standings. And after such a successful season, the Mother Lode League all-league team is filled with Calaveras players. Calaveras senior Bailie Clark is the Most Outstanding Player of the league, while the senior duo of Brooke Nordahl and Laney Koepp shared the honor of Most Valuable Player.
The Red Hawks also had Macy Villegas selected as a first-team member and the foursome of senior Reese Mossa, junior Izzy Tapia, junior Paige Johnston, and sophomore Brynn Gardina made the second team.
Villegas entered her senior season as a three-year varsity pitcher and the returning ace of the squad. Villegas had another impressive season in the circle by going 18-2 with 10 complete games. She posted an ERA of 3.51 with 71 strikeouts in 109.2 innings pitched.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Villegas’ senior year and her previous three seasons on the varsity level was her production at the plate. For the first time in her career, Villegas got to be a full-time batter, and she didn’t disappoint. She hit .429 with 30 hits, drove in 25, smacked five doubles, one triple, four home runs and drew seven walks in 70 at-bats.
“She didn’t hit a lot for us in the past few years, but she has swung the bat really well, and she’s holding down that four-hole for us, and you can’t ask for much more than that,” Calaveras head coach Mike Koepp said. “She hits the ball hard and she’s got a very aggressive swing. When she connects, she can deliver a punch.”
Villegas ends her Calaveras career with an overall record of 46-6 with an ERA of 2.98 in 289 innings pitched. Villegas is a three-time all-league player.
Mossa found herself on the all-league team for the second year in a row. The Calaveras catcher made the switch from outfield to behind the dish for her senior year and was one of the top receivers in the league. Mossa committed only four errors all season and had a fielding percentage of .950.
“Getting more innings under her belt really helped her,” Koepp said. “I was kind of bummed because she was a first-team player last year and she had a great year. It was very selfless of her to move from the outfield to catcher and she understood that that’s where we needed her this year. We are better as a team when she’s behind the plate. With her knowledge and confidence back there, she makes us better.”
At the plate, Mossa hit .387 with 24 hits, scored 20 times, drove in 16, had three doubles, one home run, walked eight times, was hit by seven pitches and stole eight bases. Mossa ends her Calaveras career with an average of .368 with 60 runs scored, 64 hits, 31 RBIs, seven doubles, two triples, one home run, 16 walks and was hit by 14 pitches.
Tapia completed her second year as a varsity starter and for the second year in a row, she earned a spot on the second team. Tapia hit .368 with 22 runs scored, recorded 25 hits, drove in 19, smacked five doubles, three home runs, drew 11 walks and was hit by two pitches. The Calaveras junior also stole five bags and helped turn two double plays from her spot at third base.
One aspect of Tapia’s game where Koepp saw improvement was her ability not to try and pull an outside pitch and just go with it to right field. All three of Tapia’s home runs went to right or right-center.
“With every girl who is tall like her, they want to extend their arms,” Koepp said. “If you jam them inside, it makes it hard to do so. She hits the ball better to right-center. That’s where she hits the ball the best. We’ve been working really hard with her in staying through the ball and driving the ball. Sometimes she was getting too selective and losing her aggressive nature as a hitter, and that’s what we are trying to bring out of her.”
Junior Paige Johnston secured first base for Calaveras all season and turned into a clutch hitter. Johnston hit .323 with 21 hits, scored 16 runs, drove in 13, had two doubles, drew seven walks, was hit by three pitches and stole six bases.
“She makes me laugh a lot of times because there is just so much more in there that we are trying to get out of her,” Koepp said. “I hope she knows that, and understands that if she uses the strength and aggressiveness that she has that she can do some good things.”
Calaveras’ final second-team player was Gardina. In her first year as a varsity player, the sophomore second baseman hit .286 with 18 hits, scored 23 times, drove in 13, had two doubles, one triple, walked eight times, stole eight bags and had a fielding percentage of .925. Gardina was also the recipient of the Character Award.
“We didn’t put too much pressure on her, and we are trying to get her to just make the routine plays and have some good swings and good at-bats,” Koepp said about his sophomore second baseman. “She’s had some really good games this year. She’s a good teammate and is very positive. She’s fun to coach because she wants to be coached. Sometimes, she forgets that she needs to be able to react and think of things for herself because she just wants so badly to please and to be a good teammate. We are just trying to get her to relax and play and let her athleticism and her strength take over.”
Calaveras’ Clark, Koepp, Nordahl, senior Madyson Bernasconi, Tapia, Johnston, sophomore Mariah Maddock and Gardina made the all-academic team.
2023 Mother Lode League Softball All-League
Most Outstanding Player
Bailie Clark, Calaveras (Sr.)
Most Valuable Players
Laney Koepp, Calaveras (Sr.)
Brooke Nordahl, Calaveras (Sr.)
Mckayla Fulmer, Amador (Fr.)
Jessica McPartland, Amador (Sr.)
Chloe Giannini, Argonaut (Sr.)
Rylee Banks, Bret Harte (So.)
Macy Villegas, Calaveras (Sr.)
Cheyenne Matyshock, Sonora (Jr.)
Kodie Townsend, Sonora (So.)
Sydney Sells, Sonora (Jr.)
Madison Cribbs, Summerville (Sr.)
Samantha Arvin, Summerville (Jr.)
Teagan Pent, Amador (Jr.)
Cadie Rice, Argonaut (Sr.)
Macie Reynolds, Argonaut (Sr.)
Bailie Baker, Argonaut (Sr.)
Maddie Kane, Bret Harte (Fr.)
Reese Mossa, Calaveras (Sr.)
Izzy Tapia, Calaveras (Jr.)
Paige Johnston, Calaveras (Jr.)
Brynn Gardina, Calaveras (So.)
Kayla Montgomery, Sonora (Jr.)
Brianna Fowler, Summerville (Jr.)
Leave a Reply