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Howley named Valley League player of the year

Winton also on all-league first team

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Valley League softball coaches who select the all-league teams chose Fallbrook High School senior Baylee Howley as the league’s player of the year for 2022.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity and a really big thing for me,” Howley said.

“She deserved it,” said Fallbrook coach Lisa Stehle.

“There was no doubt this year that she was on her game. She was mentally in the game,” Stehle said. “She was motivated and she came in ready to do her work, and that’s just on the field.”

Stehle noted that Howley added leadership qualities this year. “She brought motivation to the season,” Stehle said. “She would just fire the team up.”

Howley herself believes that the non-statistical contributions were the difference between this year and last year when she was on the Valley League first team but not the player of the year. “It was just kind of more the leadership I had,” she said.

“To have that on our team this year, it’s a great asset. It just makes such a big impact,” Stehle said.

Although Fallbrook finished last in the six-team Valley League standings, the other coaches still selected Howley as the 2022 player of the year. “As a league we also recognize the assets that others bring to the game,” Stehle said. “She was noticed by other teams.”

The all-league recognition is based on performance in league games. Howley batted .500 in the Warriors’ 10 league contests with 15 hits including seven doubles and a home run in 30 at-bats. She drove in two runs in league competition, scored 14 times, and stole four bases. She drew five walks and was hit by a pitch once, and she did not strike out in her 36 league plate appearances.

Howley was Fallbrook’s catcher and had a fielding average of .955 with three errors in 67 total chances. Eight of those total chances were assists, and she participated in a double play.

For the entire season Howley had a .575 batting average with 42 hits in 73 at-bats, and her 13 walks drawn along with being hit by one pitch gave her an on-base percentage of .644. She struck out twice in those 87 plate appearances while hitting 15 doubles, two triples, and two homers. She scored 37 times, drove in 12 runs, and stole 13 bases. Howley’s .966 fielding percentage reflects six errors in 178 total chances including 21 assists, and she was involved in two double plays as a fielder.

“This year we had a different level of play out of Baylee. She was ready to go to the next level,” Stehle said.

(Howley has signed to play collegiate softball for the University of North Dakota.)

Howley started for the Warriors in 2019 and was on the all-league second team as a freshman. The coronavirus shutdown ended the 2020 season prior to the start of league play, so there were no all-league awards.

“It’s awesome to watch a player grow,” Stehle said. “She’s put in a lot of hard work, effort, and dedication to the sport.”

Fallbrook freshman pitcher and first baseman Hana Winton was also chosen for the all-league first team.

“She is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s exciting as a coach to see a freshman come in and have skill sets that are only going to grow,” Stehle said.

Fallbrook had a 2-8 Valley League record, and Winton’s win-loss record in Valley League play as a freshman was 2-4. Her earned run average was 3.95, and she only allowed one home run and one double to the 247 batters she faced. Winton allowed a total of 55 hits along with 32 walks and two hit batters in the 51 1/3 league innings she pitched, and she struck out 55 league opponents. She had a 1.000 fielding percentage, with 12 putouts and five assists but no errors in 17 total chances.

“She had a great season overall,” Stehle said.

In 24 total appearances, Winton struck out 177 of the 577 batters she faced. “That’s significant,” Stehle said.

Winton had a 9-8 win-loss record with a 3.87 earned run average in 123 innings. The 110 hits she allowed included three doubles and seven home runs, and she also issued 83 walks and hit seven batters. She held opposing hitters to a .226 batting average. As a batter her .303 overall batting average and .393 on-base percentage reflect 23 hits including four doubles and a home run in 76 at-bats, 12 walks drawn, two sacrifice bunts, one sacrifice fly, 17 runs scored, 21 runs batted in, and two stolen bases.

“I’m looking forward to watching her grow both on the field and in her leadership role on the team,” Stehle said.

The Valley League second team included sophomore third baseman Berlin Broussard. “She is an impact player both on the field defensively and offensively,” Stehle said.

During league play Broussard batted .324 with 11 hits including three doubles and a home run in 34 at-bats. She scored three runs while driving in five. Broussard added two stolen bases in league play. For the overall season Broussard hit .453 with 39 hits in 86 bats. Her hits included ten doubles, two triples, and three home runs. Five walks drawn and reaching base once as a hit batter brought her on-base percentage to .489, and Broussard’s 93 plate appearances also included a sacrifice bunt. She scored 22 runs, drove in 29 runs, and stole six bases.

Last year, when Broussard was a freshman, the Valley League coaches gave her honorable mention all-league recognition.

This year’s honorable mention selections included Fallbrook senior Mel Becerra, who played center field for the Warriors. She batted .241 in league play, scored five runs, drove in two teammates, executed three sacrifice bunts, stole a base, and had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 18 total chances including two assists. Her overall season batting average of .271 reflects 19 hits including a double and three triples in 70 at-bats while her .362 on-base percentage includes nine walks drawn and being hit once. She had seven sacrifice bunts, scored 17 times, drove in 10 runners, and stole two bases. The all-league recognition was the first for Becerra.

“I’m proud of every girl,” Stehle said. “I’m really proud of the girls for giving what they had even though it didn’t end with a ‘w.’ They didn’t define themselves this year by their adversities. They defined themselves by who they wanted to be.”

Fallbrook won the CIF Division V championship before concluding the season with a loss in the first round of the Southern California regional playoffs. The Warriors’ overall record this year was 12-15.


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