Valencia’s softball program has a long tradition of great teams. But recently the tradition has extended to having great players too. In fact, for the second consecutive year, the best player in the state. Senior pitcher Jessica Spigner has been named the Gatorade California Player of the Year, following former teammate and current Michigan pitcher Jordan Taylor. Spigner’s win marks the first time in the awards 11-year history that the same school has won the award with a different player in back-to-back years. But as dominant as Taylor was in leading the Vikings to their first CIF Championship and a National Championship last year, Spigner’s accomplishments might be more impressive.
Last year as a junior, Spigner was the third baseman, her natural position and the position she will play at the University of Tennessee in the fall. But with the departure of the most dominant pitcher in Foothill League history, the Vikings needed someone to step up and pitch. Insert Jessica Spigner. Having pitched in just one game in the last four years (which in fact was the only Valencia loss in their 2007 National Championship run), Spigner helped the Vikings continue their unheard of streak of consecutive Foothill League Championships, which now sits at eight. Her most impressive performance came in the CIF semifinal matchup at Santiago, a team that had defeated Valencia earlier in the season. Spigner crushed a two-run homerun on the first pitch she saw in the top of the first, added a solo homerun in the third, and threw seven solid innings, allowing just two unearned runs while making the game-saving catch for the last out on a line drive right back to the pitchers circle. Spigner then pitched a four-hit shutout to defeat previously undefeated and nationally top-ranked Simi Valley to give Valencia their second consecutive CIF Championship.
Spigner’s stats this season were impressive to say the least: .480 avg., 12 home runs, 37 RBI, .930 slugging percentage, and most impressively a .575 on base percentage. In the pitchers circle, Spigner was 29-5-1 with a .623 era and a staggering 222 strikeouts while only making 2 errors all season.
For the second straight year, the Vikings lose a dominant senior to a top flight Division I NCAA School. But don’t count out Valencia next season either, with senior to be catcher Amy Moore and junior to be superstars like Madison Shipman and Megan Foglesong, the Vikings look poised to make a run at their third straight CIF Championship.