Coast Union softball coach Steve Kniffen said junior pitcher Ani Corbet was “definitely the most dominate player in the Coast Valley League” and she has skills “that surpass anybody in our league.” Hence, it’s no surprise that Corbet was named MVP of the CVL, and that Kniffen named her MVP of the Lady Broncos as well.
Other awards given out by Kniffen include sophomore Melody Robertson (Coach’s Award); sophomore Ailyn Casas (Most Improved); and junior Alyssa Drew (Kim Kinney Award).
Robertson was “a pleasure to have on the team” and “never had a bad word to say about anyone,” Kniffen explained in an email interview, adding that she was “a great cheerleader and team spirit coordinator.” The coach said she made sure he knew schedules of players involved in the FFA, so Kniffen always knew who would miss practice because of outside activities.
Casas served as Coast’s “best contact hitter after Ani. Her spitfire attitude and her great hand-eye coordination – once she moved to shortstop – helped improve our defense,” Kniffen said.
Drew won the Kim Kinney Award – based on being a total team player who is selflessly willing to do anything for the team – because, as Kniffen reported, “she was not a natural catcher, but she accepted the challenge when it was obvious there was no one else to do it.” Drew led the team in bunting and sacrifices, notwithstanding that she was “banged up all year.”
Drew, Casas, Corbet and Serena Valenzuela all made the Coast Valley League first team for 2017. Kniffen referred to sophomore Valenzuela as “our strongest player and most versatile,” who began as catcher but because of knee issues moved to third base, and also was backup pitcher when Corbet was not available. “She can carry a team with her bat,” Kniffen added.
Two Lady Broncos made the Coast Valley League second team: junior Keana Valenzuela and junior Zoe Markham. Keana Valenzuela, Serena’s sister, was the “team mom,” Kniffen explained. She was the person that took care to be sure “all the extenuating circumstances of the team were cared for,” and her defense improved “game by game” so Kniffen expects her to play first base in 2018.
Markham, meanwhile, worked on “Crafting the approach of a lead-off hitter, and by the end of the year was not afraid to be a two-strike hitter.” Markham’s “pure speed” was perfect for her role as lead-off hitter, and her “pure power and hand-eye coordination” resulted in a couple long blasts to the fence on two-strike counts.
Freshman Riley Volz was given honorable mention by the Coast Valley League. She had played Little League baseball, so learning softball took an adjustment, but she finished the season hitting a very respectable .350, Kniffen reported. She played “a solid” second base and is expected to be “an internal part of the team” in years to come, the coach said.