By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
After winning league titles in 18 of the last 20 years, three consecutive Empire League titles and six CIF championships in the last 15 years, Pacifica softball has established itself as one of the premier high school athletic programs in the county. That’s why it’s even more noteworthy that the county’s third ranked softball program in division one is led by a player that isn’t graduating until 2014.
Kaylee Carlson is just a sophomore, but has already earned more accolades after just one full varsity season than most high school athletes earn in four. After her freshman season the pitcher was named to the MaxPreps 2011 Freshman All-American
and OCVarsity First Team All-American teams and was named the Empire League Pitcher of the Year.
“It feels pretty great to know that what we do and what I do, pays off and people see that.”
With an 0.57 earned run average and a 6-1 record in 2012, Carlson is picking up where she left off and is looking to be the catalyst behind the first CIF title for the Mariners in five years. “I want to win CIF,” Carlson said, “I think we have all the assets to do that.”
In Division I though, Pacifica will have to face the county’s toughest competition to win it all; something that fifth-year head coach Mark Campbell thinks Carlson excels at. “The thing she did right away as a freshman was that she pitched big, not only in little games but also in big games,” Campbell said.
“This school plays in Division I, with a lot of teams that you just can’t make many mistake pitches against. She’s pretty good at hitting locations and keeping the ball down, so I think that’s what sets her aside from a lot of the other ones.”
A softball player since age 4, Carlson says that softball has always “just felt right” for her and that has translated into a very successful start to her time at Pacifica. Now coupled with freshman pitcher Kaley Winegarner, who has a 0.49 ERA as the primary relief pitcher for Carlson, the Mariners are one of the toughest teams in Division I to score against.
“There’s no easy games when it comes to the playoffs in Division I, but for this team, I think if you asked any one of them their goal it is to win a CIF championship,” Campbell said. “Winning a league title just isn’t good enough.”
Pacifica is out to a strong start with a 11-1 record and a 3-0 record in Empire League play following a 1-0, 10-inning victory against Yorba Linda on Tuesday. Carlson and the Mariners next play Northwood at home today (Thursday) at 5 p.m.