Robert Vernon has returned the Ripon softball program to a place of prominence and his hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Vernon has repeated as the Trans-Valley League’s Coach of the Year after leading the Indians to an outright league title, a 20-win season and their first playoff victory in quite some time.
Ripon (20-6-3) knocked off Argonaut in an elimination first-round game, before stumbling into the off-season with back-to-back losses to Calaveras and TVL rival Hughson.
The finish did nothing to spoil the process.
Ripon navigated the TVL with only one loss, finishing 11-1 with regular-season split with Hughson, the eventual Division V champion.
Vernon wasn’t the only Indian to receive a major individual award, as voted upon by the TVL’s coaches.
For the second straight spring, Ripon was honored with the Pitcher of the Year award.
Senior Mackenzie Gauden went 11-0 with a 0.74 ERA. She had eight complete games, four of which were shutouts, and struck out 121 batters in 76 innings.
Gauden’s appointment as Pitcher of the Year follows teammate Danielle Sperry’s banner freshman campaign in 2013, when she piloted Ripon to its first playoff appearance in 18 years.
Sperry didn’t go away empty handed. The sophomore started 18 games, closing with a 7-6 record and 2.67 ERA. She and four others were named to the all-TVL first team.
Joining Sperry was a host of familiar names: Darian Vandermaaten, Tiana Chacon, Taylor Vernon and Mikaela Ferreira.
Vandermaaten batted .419 with a team-high 36 hits and 31 runs.
Taylor Vernon drove in 35 runs on 31 hits, including nine doubles, and boasted a .437 batting average.
Chacon and Ferreira touted averages in the .340s.
Taylor Vernon and Chacon have been mainstays on the all-TVL first team. The younger Vernon closed her prep career with a fourth straight first-team selection. She is headed to William Penn University on an athletic scholarship.
Fellow senior Chacon is a three-time honoree.
Karla Calderon was an honorable mention.
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Caleb Rogers, Josh Clark and Nick Price kept the Indians in the hunt for a TVL title up to the final week of the season and the triumvirate was rewarded justly.
Rogers, Clark and Price were named to the all-TVL first team. A senior catalyst, Rogers batted .414 and went 5-2 on the mound with a 1.58 ERA. He paced the Indians in hits (29), extra basehits (11) and RBI (18).
Clark was a terror on the base paths. With blazing speed, the senior outfielder swiped 18 bases and scored 22 runs, second only to Price, a sophomore third baseman.
Price batted .303 with 24 runs, two home runs and 15 RBI. In 54 chances at the hot corner, Price committed only five errors.
Michael Ysit, Jarrod Andrews, Trent Murphy and Luke Robinson were named to the second team.
Hughson’s Lane Cobb was named MVP, while skipper Mike Bava was Coach of the Year. Modesto Christian senior Mason Washington was the Most Valuable Offensive Player. Escalon’s Ben Hood was the league’s top defender.
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Four members of Ripon’s Division V playoff team were named to the all-Trans Valley League first team.
Zaire Davis, Morgan Carrico, Hailey Monroe earned top honors after leading the Indians to 10-4-5 record, a third-place finish in league and a No. 8 playoff seed.
Monroe led Ripon with 11 goals and four assists. Davis tallied eight goals, while Carrico (two goals, three assists) was the Indians’ top midfielder.
Jessica Carmona, Amanda Evans, Jordyn Wall and Sarah Alves were named to the second team.
Escalon’s Anna Lena was the TVL’s most valuable player. Kensie Pettigrew of Hilmar was the league’s top offensive player, while Escalon’s Haylee Cook and Hughson’s Janet Rivera shared MVP Defense honors.