Player of the Year: Kenzi Maguire, Jr., River Ridge
Kenzi Maguire has the kind of numbers you want in a clean-up hitter.
She poked seven home runs, doubled 15 times and drove in 45 runs.
Her slugging percentage was a robust 1.216.
So, what is she doing hitting leadoff?
Well, duh: hitting.
“I’m there because I get on so often, I guess,” said Maguire.
When she’s not circling the bases, she is almost always on them. That’s one of the reasons she is the choice for the Times’ all-Tampa Bay Player of the Year.
The spot in the batting order normally reserved for lefty slap hitters has been transformed at River Ridge, where Maguire has redefined it. To go with her power numbers, Maguire also batted .589, had an on-base percentage of .650 and scored 52 runs. The only thing she didn’t do was steal bases, but with all-Tampa Bay selections Madisyn Palmer, Morgan Tolle and Makenzie Goluba hitting two-three-four, why would you?
“I can’t think of anyone who I’ve ever seen that hits the ball better than she does,” former Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner said.
He is not alone.
But that’s not the only reason the junior Arkansas verbal commitment is our choice. The other is her defense, where she plays her shortstop position effortlessly. Her arm is one of the best around, and no one grabs a grounder and gets the throw off more quickly.
Maguire has the kinds of numbers coaches want for any spot in the lineup, plays the field like you’d hope, and if you’re looking for the best softball player this season in Tampa Bay, is the perfect choice.
Pitcher of the Year: Lace Smith, Jr., Bloomingdale
When a team that hadn’t even made the playoffs since 2009 started winning and kept winning — ace Lace Smith eventually started thinking the inevitable hiccup would come.
“I was just hoping that we wouldn’t have our downfall,” Smith said. “And we didn’t.”
The Bulls kept going, all the way to the Class 8A state championship, with Smith leading the way to earn the Times’ honor as the all-Tampa Bay Pitcher of the Year.
Smith was solid as a sophomore, but took a giant leap forward this spring to have a dominant season. Her command was stellar; she walked only 26 batters. She took a 0.58 ERA into the state semifinals and allowed only one earned run in Vero Beach to help the Bulls clinch their first state title since 1993. Florida’s 8A player of the year also ranked among the state’s leaders with 279 strikeouts. She starred at the plate, too, hitting .343 and finishing 3-for-7 with two RBIs at state.
And good luck finding a better performance in any sport than the one she delivered in the region quarterfinals at Sarasota Riverview: a 19-strikeout perfect game with the winning home run in the seventh inning of a 1-0 victory.
The Buffalo commit said the key to her success this spring was all the work she put in over last summer, from travel ball to pitching lessons.
“It all helped me out for getting ready for this year,” Smith said.
And the result was one that will be remembered in Valrico for years.
Coach of the Year
Mandy Schuerman, Bloomingdale. It’s hard to envision a better first year at a program than the one Schuerman had. She transformed a Bulls team that didn’t even make the playoffs last year into a 27-3 juggernaut ranked No. 22 in the country (by MaxPreps) and the 8A state champions. Her team wasn’t loaded with star power or experience, but Schuerman found a way to keep Bloomingdale loose but focused to bring home the second state championship in program history.
P Kama Woodall, Fr., Canterbury: Pinellas’ Pitcher of the Year has been the ace for the Crusaders’ two straight state titles; finished season 14-4 with a 0.86 ERA.
P Courtney Riddle, Sr., Hernando: Led team to region final with 27-2 record; also hit .485 with 44 RBIs.
P Makenzie Goluba, Jr., River Ridge: Became school’s all-time wins leader en route to 23-4 record, 0.34 ERA and 14 shutouts.
P Jill McElderry, Sr., Fivay: Tampa Bay-leading 254 strikeouts in 139 innings pitched, including a dozen games with a dozen or more strikeouts.
C Danielle Romanello, Fr., Canterbury: Florida recruit hit .575 with seven home runs and was the Crusaders’ best player down the stretch.
IF Logyn Lilley, Jr., Palm Harbor University: Pinellas player of the year hit .630 with seven home runs and county-leading 44 RBIs.
IF Jessica Warren, Sr., Alonso: Florida State signee batted .605 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs for the 8A region semifinalists.
INF Morgan Tolle, Sr., River Ridge: Led North Suncoast with eight homers and 45 RBIs; for her career, batted .488 with 21 homers and 119 RBIs.
IF Taylor Bump, Fr., Canterbury: Two-year starter hit .557 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.
OF Megan Lane, Jr., Hernando: Ninth in the nation in steals (63) and hit .556; played catcher, but could convert to an outfielder next season.
OF Aliyah Andrews, So., East Lake: LSU recruit was one of the area’s best leadoff hitters with a .465 average and 15 stolen bases.
OF Izzy Ordorica, Sr., Chamberlain: Speedy UCLA recruit hit .442 and provided leadership for the young 6A state semifinalists.
UTIL Lauren Evans, Sr., Academy at the Lakes: How good? Take away her .708 average and the team’s season batting average plunges from .289 to .244.
P Mariah Watts, Sr., Lakewood
P Kayla Maxwell, Sr., Alonso
P Aubrey Ehlers, Jr., Dunedin
P Nicole Lopez, Sr., Jefferson
C Chyloe Gonzalez, So., Nature Coast
INF Lindsey Hupp, Jr., Zephyrhills
INF Emma Frost, Fr., Carrollwood Day
INF Liz Diaz, Sr., Chamberlain
INF Elizabeth Jackson, Jr., Bloomingdale
OF Kassidy Neptune, Sr., Mitchell
OF Madisyn Palmer, Jr., River Ridge
OF Katie Flanagan, Jr., Palm Harbor University
DH Shannon Bell, Sr., Durant
UTIL Madison Staniloiu, Jr., Mitchell
Academy of the Holy Names: Julia Schifino
Admiral Farragut: Corynn Miner
Alonso: Megan Wetzel
Berkeley Prep: McKenzie Ward
Cambridge Christian: Alea White
Canterbury: Lindsay Graves, Hailey Hopkins
Central: Kaeleen Koehler
Chamberlain: Olivia Dwyer, Hope Hernandez
Clearwater: Allysa Johnson
Countryside: Brittany Creamer, Andrea Fredericks, Keeley Mayers, Alyssa Queen, Samantha Sharpe
Dixie Hollins: Amanda Ross
Dunedin: Tiona Hill, Abbie Sexton, Olivia Silver
Durant: Sloan Hammons
East Lake: Ashley Bonalewicz, Diana Rayder
Freedom: Rachel Carlson
Gaither: Sammi Grat, Elizabeth Mason
Gulf: Madison Morlan
Hernando: Tana McDaniel
Jefferson: Justine Fernandez
Leto: Adri Jones
Mitchell: Jordan Fowler
Nature Coast: Kat Gonzalez
Northeast: Ashley McNally, Riley Randolph
Palm Harbor University: Alayna Gallagher, Rachel Taylor
Plant: Megan Przeslawski
Plant City: Noelle Dietrich
River Ridge: Melissa Moore
Robinson: Brandea’ Rafferty
St. Petersburg Catholic: Allison Keen
Seminole: Mackenzie Jahn
Steinbrenner: Erica Serafini
Strawberry Crest: Mia Fung, Megan Reed, Cacey Simmons, Sammy Tyler
Tarpon Springs: Lindsey White