There will be lots of competition for next year’s Player of the Year awards in baseball and softball because three of the four winners this year will be back to contend again next season.
Mara Kemmer, this year’s azcentral sports Big Schools Softball Player of the year, is the only senior in the group. The do-everything contributor to Desert Vista High School‘s success this season pitched, played center field, was a major force at the plate, and even ran the bases with abandon (17 stolen bases).
The team’s lead-off hitter, she led her Thunder team with a .533 batting average and finished the season with 65 hits, 47 runs scored, and 23 RBIs.
And her pitching stats are just as impressive. Kremmer notched a 14-3 record and finished the season with a 1.59 ERA, posting 158 strikeouts in 101 1/2 innings.
The UNLV commit also has another distinction: she was also named the Small Schools POY. The earlier award came when she was a sophomore at Valley Christian in Chandler; she transferred to Desert Vista after her junior year.
On the boys’ side, Hamilton High junior Nick Brueser finally nailed down the Big Schools Baseball Player of the Year honors after two years of impressive play. He made the varsity as a freshman, where he hit .350, and then was named the section Player of the Year as a sophomore, finishing that season as the runner-up in the coaches’ voting for state player of the year.
And this year his stats were too good to overlook. The first baseman hit .442 with 46 hits, 13 doubles, 47 RBIs, and nine home runs to lead the Huskies to their fifth Division I state championship.
Brueser has committed to play for Stanford after graduation, but could also be a high pick in the MLB draft.
The youngest of the four POY recipients is sophomore Nicole Conway, who pitched Catalina Foothills High School to its first state softball championship, competing in Division III.
The transplant from Dallas, TX, finished the season with a 23-6 record, a 1.06 ERA, and 302 strikeouts to earn this year’s Small Schools Softball Player of the Year honors.
When the playoffs rolled around, she ramped up her game another notch, striking out 61 batters in five tournament games and giving up just one earned run throughout.
And Division III is where we find the Small Schools Baseball Player of the Year. Like Conway, David Avitia led his Alhambra High School team to its first state baseball title.
But Avitia earned his POY honor behind the plate. The junior catcher was a power at the plate, as well as a defensive star for the Lions; he threw out 12 of the 15 base runners trying to steal on him.
Avitia set a school record as a freshman with a .534 batting average, hit .494 as a sophomore, and this year finished the season with a .528 average. He contributed 40 runs scored and 39 RBIs, and hit four home runs.