Armani Garcia was up to the challenge.
Santa Ynez High School's softball starter brought the Pirates to second place in the first Channel League school season.
This was a great achievement considering that Santa Ynez High is easily the smallest school in the league that includes the huge Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara area schools, along with former enemies of the League of Los Padres Lompoc and Cabrillo.
But size was not important to Garcia and his teammates who ended the Channel League season with a record of 11-3-1 (overall 16-7-2) to earn a place in the CIF Southern Section playoffs .
In a vote by the sports staff of Lee Central Coast Newspapers, Garcia was chosen for the 2019 All-Area Most Valuable Softball Player season.
The awards cover three straight star seasons for the young woman who has just completed her junior year.
In 2017, as a freshman from Garcia, she was named All-Area MVP and was voted for the first team of the Los Padres League.
In 2018, after his second season, Garcia added both the All-LPL and All-Area Pitcher of the Year awards.
And this year, in addition to Lee All-Area MVP, Garcia was voted as Channel League co-MVP.
"I cast most of the innings this year – most, but not all," Garcia said during a recent interview. "I wanted to hit everyone out."
He approached, beating 259 beats in 146 1/3 innings on 24 games – almost three times the strikeout number of Dos Pueblos main pitcher Allison Speshyock, the other All-Channel League co-MVP whose 93 strikeouts were the second of the best league.
And Garcia did it while rarely throwing a fast ball.
"I don't throw a ball very fast because it's easier to control the ball with shots out of speed. It's easier to keep the ball away from them," Garcia said.
In fact, Garcia kept his opponents out of balance with a dizzying series of shots.
"I throw a curve, screwball, riseball, dropball, drop curve, knuckleball and two different changes and once in a while I throw a fast ball," Garcia said. "He really cares about guessing them and they can't get their timing like they would do if I started mostly fastballs."
"It is so difficult to get a success from her that there have been many bunts," said Yesenia Vega, who started the year in a shortstop before moving on to the third base.
"At the beginning of the season, our opponents were taking a lot of bullshit," said Armani's coach and father, Benny Garcia. "Yesenia is so fast that we have moved from short to third and this has ended – the teams have had problems to strut after us."
"It's really nice to know that you have a very strong pitcher that will put on many K's," Michaela Baker said. "Sometimes it hits so much that you can forget what to do if they hit the ball. You just have to stand up in the game and play games as a guide."
"Playing in this new league, there were many girls in other teams playing club ball, they play all year," said second base Nicole Atiles, one of the three elders who graduated outside from the program. "You know when they hit the ball – and this didn't happen much with the launch of Armani – the ball will catch you fast enough, so you have to be ready to make comedies. Those club girls are fast. They are the best hitters. But the our girls were really confident with Armani on the mound. He threw a lot of Ks.
"We all knew that all the schools in our league were larger schools than those in Santa Ynez," said Garcia. "I had the feeling that even before the season it started that our team would do better than expected. I knew we could play with any team in this league. And I knew it wasn't just me. All the girls played great. "
Garcia also helped herself in an offensive way, hitting .343 for the year.
"I've had more strikeouts this year than ever, but I've also had my best season on the plate," Garcia said. "And we lose only three players to the degree (Atiles, Maggie Usher and Sabrina Harridge) even though they were all very strong players. But with the way we all play together and the hard work we put into practice, I'm confident that next year we'll do even better ".
. (tagToTranslate) local-sport (t) prep-sport (t) santa ynez (t) santa ynez high school (t) pirates (t) armani garcia (t) benny garcia (t) nicole atiles (t) michaela baker (t) yesenia vega (t) channel league (t) los padres league (t) lompoc (t) santa ynez valley (t) california (t) allison speshyock (t) all-channel league (t) maggie usher (t) san marcos ( t) santa barbara (t) dos pueblos (t) cabrillo