Player of the year: Kenzi Maguire, Jr., River Ridge
Why we picked her: Maguire is unanimously agreed upon as the best softball player in Pasco County. It’s hard to find something the Sunshine Athletic Conference Player of the Year doesn’t do well. She is probably a No. 3 or 4 hitter at heart, but leads off for River Ridge. Her defense at shortstop is exceptional. And her bat is without holes. Maguire, who only struck out six times in 118 plate appearances, batted .598 and had 58 hits, with 34 of those going for extra bases — 15 doubles, 12 triples and seven home runs. Not to compare Maguire to a major leaguer, but a .900-1.100 OPS (on-base percentage and slugging average combined) is considered pretty elite, and Maguire posted a crazy 1.866 against a tough schedule. Her 2013 body of work is one of the most impressive in North Suncoast history.
Most impressive accomplishment: If you follow softball, you probably thought Maguire had an incredible 2013 season, and she did. But for an encore in 2014, she hit 119 points higher, seven more doubles, six more triples and two more home runs.
Did you know? Maguire is the eighth Royal Knight — most of any North Suncoast school — to earn Times’ player or pitcher of the year honors, joining Morgan Tolle and Makenzie Goluba (2013), Lakyn Shull (2011), Janet Houck (2005), Kiki Von Holt (2003, 2004), Christine Beck (2001, 2002), Tiffany Martin (1998).
Future plans: Maguire still has a year to continue rewriting the school and county record books before enrolling at Arkansas, where she has orally committed.
Pitcher of the year: Courtney Riddle, Sr., Hernando
Why we picked her: Riddle was remarkably consistent — in the pitching circle and at plate — and helped revive the softball program in her time at Hernando. Riddle pitched in every game but one this season, finishing with a 27-2 record, 1.48 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 184 innings. Her season was impressive enough that even her final outing, in which she allowed a mind-blowing 15 earned runs, wasn’t enough to deter us — or most coaches we talked to — from naming her the season’s best pitcher. It was her .485 batting average and 44 RBIs that put her over the top. She beat Nature Coast in the district final. She avenged her only regular-season loss, going 2-0 against River Ridge, including a win in the region semifinal. And she knocked off Dunedin in the playoffs. “As a pitcher and our No. 4 hitter, she owned so much of what we were able to accomplish,” coach Kevin Bittinger said.
Most impressive accomplishment: Riddle’s 27 wins shattered the previous record at Hernando, Chrissy Hartley’s 23 set in 2001. For her career, which includes two varsity seasons as a seventh and eighth grader at Hernando Christian, Riddle won a Hernando County-record 94 games.
Did you know? Riddle pitched in the state semifinals for Hernando Christian in 2009 and 2010 as a seventh and eight grader. < p> Future plans: Riddle has signed with the College of Central Florida.
Coach of the Year
Kevin Bittinger, Hernando. In his ninth season, Bittinger led the Leopards to a 27-3 record, one of the school’s best ever, and guided them to a second straight region final, beating local powerhouses Nature Coast and River Ridge — the only teams to beat Hernando in the regular season — in the playoffs, The Leopards haven’t been to consecutive region finals since 2000-2001, when they advanced to the state semifinals.
P Makenzie Goluba, Jr., River Ridge: Went 23-4 with North Suncoast-best 0.34 ERA, 14 shutouts and 171 strikeouts.
P Jill McElderry, Sr., Fivay: No one was more overpowering than McElderry, who went 13-8 while striking out a Tampa Bay-best 254 batters in 139 innings, including 12 games with more than a dozen Ks. She also batted a team-high .522.
P Madison Morlan, Sr., Gulf: Went 12-3 with a 1.08 ERA, including a save, and finished career with 44 wins; also led the Bucs with a .426 average.
INF Lindsey Hupp, Jr., Zephyrhills: Led the Bulldogs with 39 hits, 30 RBIs and a .500 batting average; had at least two hits in 11 of first 13 games.
INF Morgan Tolle, Sr., River Ridge: Batted .489, led North Suncoast in homers (eight) and RBIs (45). In one of greatest prep softball careers ever, hit .488 with 31 doubles, 21 HRs and 119 RBIs.
INF Lauren Evans, Sr., Academy at the Lakes: So good that if you take away her stats, the team batting average drops 45 points; hit .708, on-base percentage was .806, 20 of 34 hits were for extra bases, and she did not strike out.
INF Melissa Moore, Jr., River Ridge: Was 2-for-25 first 10 games, but batted .446 with 15 RBIs the last 20, and was a wall at the hot corner.
C Megan Lane, Jr., Hernando: A .556 average and 60 hits, including 19 multi-hit games, led to 63 stolen bases, No. 9 in the country according to MaxPreps.
OF Madisyn Palmer, Jr., River Ridge: Centerfielder had a hit in 27 of 30 games, batted .536, scored 43 runs.
OF Kassidy Neptune, Sr., Mitchell: Opened season with 20-game hitting streak, finished with .571 average (third on the North Suncoast) and 1.012 slugging percentage to go with five homers and 32 RBIs.
OF Kat Gonzalez, Jr., Nature Coast: Made the Sharks go with .459 average, and her 16 stolen bases made her a player you had to keep off the bases.
DH Chyloe Gonzalez, So., Nature Coast: Led team to t he district final and led the Sharks in hits (38), doubles (nine), triples (nine), average (.482) and RBIs (33).
UTIL Madison Staniloiu, Jr., Mitchell: Was 10-2 in the circle with four shutouts and four saves, and batted .420 with team-high 13 doubles and six homers.
P Abbey Primavera, Fr., Nature Coast
P Louisa Disi, Jr., Springstead
P Jordan Fowler, Sr., Mitchell
INF Kiera Delegro, Jr., Mitchell
INF Samantha Renzetti, Sr., Mitchell
INF Tarra Rice, Sr., Gulf
INF Tana McDaniel, Sr., Hernando
C Nikki Sedivy, Sr., Gulf
OF Haley McCarthy, Jr., Gulf
OF Cassidy Roberts, So., Sunlake
OF Sierra Cannon, Jr., Hernando
DH Amber Caudill, Sr., Pasco
UTIL Kaeleen Koehler, So., Central
Anclote: Kourtney Gracie
Bishop McLaughlin: Brooke Baptiste
Fivay: Bailea Robinson
Gulf: Britney Pressler
Hernando: Summer Solovitch
Hudson: Sarah Brown, Heather Shagoury
Land O’Lakes: Shannon Saile, Nicole Urban
Mitchell: Erin Brown, Kelsea Vanderveer
Nature Coast: Brianna Harvey
Pasco: Blakeleigh Boyett, Kaylee Britton
River Ridge: Brook Schwaner, Anessa Holes
Springstead: Abby Oliver
Sunlake: Haley Kirinsky, Shelby Lansing
Weeki Wachee: Ray Riecss
Wiregrass Ranch: Elizabeth Diaz, Shailynn Morales, Kaitlynn Ridolph
Zephyrhills: Alexis Christopher, Cassidee McCullough