Madilyn Nickles could have a well-decorated softball career by the time she leaves Merced High School.
The Bears sophomore was named the Central California Conference Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row after helping lead Merced to another conference championship.
“She’s pretty good,” said Bears coach Bart McAfee. “She’s a pretty dominant pitcher. She got some big hits, too, but it was more for her pitching than anything else. She’s getting better every year. I hope it continues.”
Nickles hit .429 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 15 CCC games. She was also 8-0 with a 0.67 ERA as a pitcher. She struck out 64 hitters in 52 innings.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Nickles said. “I’m only a sophomore. It’s pretty cool I got picked again. We had a lot of fun this year. I think this was one of the best teams McAfee had. We had a lot of great players and we went pretty far.”
Merced’s Chelsea Evans was named the Defensive Player of the Year as a shortstop and pitcher. Evans went 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA. She recorded 43 strikeouts in 41 innings.
“As a shortstop, when the ball was hit to Chelsea, I knew it would be an out,” McAfee said. “If it was the third out of an inning, I would already be getting up and saying ‘good play’ before the play was made. That’s how confident I was with her out there.
“The thing about Maddy and Chelsea is they both work very hard. Maddy throws and throws and throws. Obviously there is some natural talent there with both of them, but they both have worked hard to get to the level they are at.”
The other major award went to Golden Valley junior Shyan Crutcher, who was named the Offensive Player of the Year. Crutcher led the CCC with a .563 average. She hit five home runs.
Merced landed four other players on the all-CCC first team in Ruby Quiralte, Megan Kravec, Rheanne Lewis and Marissa Castillo. They were joined by Atwater’s Gracie Santistevan and the Buhach Colony trio of Jen Moreno, Catrina Wilson and Miranda Collins. Pitman’s Alexis Mettler, Nicole Bailey and Skylar Taylor.
Delhi’s Alyssa Stockton was named the Most Valuable Pitcher after compiling a 9-1 record with a 0.59 ERA during SL play. Stockton struck out 144 hitters in just under 83 innings.
Local players named to the all-SL first team include Gustine’s Savannah Vargas and Sierra Alamo, Mariposa’s Leah Lafata, Claire Bullis and Ginny Kelsey, Delhi’s Briana Lopez and Bianca Nunez and Le Grand’s Kinsey Haas and Cassandra Casanova.
Del Rio hit .555 with four home runs and 20 RBIS in 10 WSL games for the Broncos.
Dos Palos’ Adam Coronado, Noah Croninger, Zach Zuspan and Daniel Gamino were all named to the all-WSL first team.
Dos Palos’ Priscilla Castillo was named to the all-WSL first team for softball.