HS softball: Aptos High sends five to SCCAL first team

Aptos High freshman Ashley Griffith and four other teammates were named to the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League first team. (Juan Reyes — Register-Pajaronian)

Aptos High had a league-high five players named to the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League First Team at last week’s all-league coaches’ meeting.

Mariners senior catcher Martina Churchill, junior infielder Shea Garcia, senior infielder Vanessa Segura, freshman pitcher Ada Neu and freshman outfielder Ashley Griffith were honored with spots on the first team.

Aptos (16-10) finished second in the SCCAL and reached the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals for the first time since 1999.

Churchill was named to the All-SCCAL First Team for a third time in four years. She made the cut last season as a first baseman and also made the team as a freshman.

Churchill batted .440 with two doubles and 35 RBIs.  

Aptos coach Phil Rojas Jr. said Churchill was consistent with her bat and was clutch in big moments.

“(Churchill) has this loose part of her that keeps the team loose and always not too caught up in the moment,” he said.

Churchill also stepped up on the defensive side when she took over the catcher’s position following the graduation of Ashley Del Colletti.

Churchill had a .964 fielding percentage. Rojas also praised his all-league catcher for having great communication with the pitchers.

“The way she goes about the game, being loose and not getting too caught up… she would transfer that to the pitchers,” Rojas said.

Garcia also repeated as a first team selection. She batted .500 with nine doubles, a triple, a home run, 21 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

Garcia said she was excited for the honors but she was happier that her teammates were also recognized, especially the seniors.

“I was just really proud of them,” said Garcia about Churchill and Segura. “It’s always fun to get that kind of stuff.”

Segura finished the season batting .476 with six doubles, four triples, 27 runs scored and 15 RBIs. Griffith batted .434 with six doubles, a triple, two home runs, 30 runs scored and 14 RBIs.

“I really trust the girls hitting behind me and in front of me, Vanessa (Segura) had a big year because she was getting a lot of good pitches to hit and she took advantage of that," Garcia said. 

Garcia said being named to the first team has been special both times, but last year’s award was a bit more memorable because Aptos won the SCCAL and it was officially her first season playing for the Mariners.

“I think just being able to come in and have an opportunity to have an impact on the team was nice but it means the same to me both years,” Garcia said.

Garcia did not produce the same numbers as her sophomore season because her opportunities were limited. Most opposing teams saw her success at the plate and started pitching around her.

 “I knew I would have to have maybe a little more of a patient mindset and make sure not to get myself out and to only be looking for hittable pitches,” Garcia said.

Garcia said she had to take on a different role this year, which was to get on base and let her teammates do their job at the plate.

Garcia had an on base percentage of .624 and a team-high 18 walks. But, she admits, it was frustrating not to see the “right” pitch and draw walks, especially as a hitter.

“Everybody wants to be able to help their team,” she said. “But what I learned this year, and I’m thankful for the opportunity, is that there’s more than one way to help your team.”

Aptos High freshman Ada Neu was named to the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League first team. (Juan Reyes — Register-Pajaronian)

Neu was 9-6 overall — 7-2 in league — in 19 appearances in the circle and finished with a 3.15 ERA. She recorded 151 strikeouts and allowed 44 walks.

Rojas said Neu opened a lot of eyes going into the season. The coach mentioned she joined the team as a freshman and not once did she try to step on a teammate’s toes.

“(Neu’s) blessed to have the talent she has as a freshman and she’s definitely going to build from her freshman year into her sophomore year,” he said. “I’m excited to wait and see what happens.”  

Garcia said she also noticed Neu was playing the role of an underclassman, which is to practice hard and let the play on the field speak for itself.

“I think she did that,” Garcia said. “I think her presence was the most impressive because she didn’t make anybody feel like she was better than them.”

Senior first baseman Julia Cano was named to the All-SCCAL Second Team. She finished the season batting .355 with eight doubles, three home runs, 17 RBIs and 13 runs scored.

Sophomores Malia Serrano and Aliyah Garland and junior Zoe Kinsella-Montes were honorable mentions.

San Lorenzo Valley High senior catcher Zoe Mendez repeated as the league’s Most Valuable Player and junior pitcher Madison Reger was named the Pitcher of the Year. Both played a huge part in helping the Cougars win an SCCAL title.

SLV coach Mark Brown was given the Coach of the Year award.

*All the stats in this story are from the MaxPreps website.

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