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Winton named Valley League pitcher of the year

Aybeta, Hernandez also given all-league honors

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Valley League softball coaches selected Fallbrook High School sophomore Hana Winton as the league’s pitcher of the year for 2023.

Winton was also chosen as a member of the all-league first team. The second team included juniors Paige Aybeta and Valerie Hernandez.

“I wish we could get more spots, but we’ve got to do a little more to get there,” Fallbrook coach Lisa Stehle said of having three all-league players.

The Warriors were 2-6 in Valley League play for fourth in the league standings. Fallbrook’s 5-13 overall record includes a loss in the first round of the CIF Division IV playoffs.

Although Winton had a 2-4 win-loss record in league games with a 4.34 earned run average in 38 2/3 innings, she struck out 62 league opponents while allowing 41 hits, 21 walks and three hit batters. Only one of the 196 batters she faced in league play homered against her.

“It was just like a great honor for me, honestly. It was unbelievable when my coach told it to me,” Winton said of her league pitcher of the year award.

“The coaches can see what she’s doing,” Stehle said.

“Hana puts a lot of work in on and off the field,” Stehle said. “She has a lot of movement in her balls.”

All-league recognition is supposed to be based on performance during league games only. Winton was 4-7 overall with a 3.08 earned run average in 77 1/3 innings. She struck out 142 batters while allowing 62 hits, 42 walks and three hit batters. She faced a total of 371 batters with the Oceanside home run being the only four-bagger she allowed.

“She’s throwing on average 64 miles an hour,” Stehle said. “That’s significant, especially as a sophomore.”

Last year San Pasqual’s Ally McKinley, who was a freshman in 2022, threw a no-hitter in league play and was 6-1 with one save against league opponents. McKinley was the 2022 Valley League pitcher of the year.

“She was actually one of my old teammates from my travel team, so I was very happy for her,” Winton said.

Winton and McKinley played together for the Power Surge club, which is based in San Diego.

San Pasqual was moved to the Palomar League for 2023, which eliminated the possibility of McKinley repeating her Valley League pitcher of the year award. “I’m still shocked that I got it,” Winton said.

This year Winton threw a no-hitter in league play when the Warriors were at Vista. “That helped, definitely,” Winton said of being named Valley League pitcher of the year.

Winton would have made the all-league first team solely for her pitcher of the year status, but she also contributed while at the plate and on the bases. Her .304 league batting average reflects seven hits including a double in 23 at-bats. Winton also drew two walks, scored twice and drove in two teammates during league play. Her overall batting average of .381 is from 21 hits including two doubles and three home runs in 56 at-bats. Winton walked three times during the overall season, scored nine runs and had nine runs batted in.

“I’m very, very happy to just have all of these accolades,” Winton said. “I promise to do better in the future.”

Stehle expects Winton to fulfill that promise. “I know that there’s going to be great things coming from her,” Stehle said. “I’m super proud of her.”

Last year Winton was also on the Valley League first team. The all-league awards are the first for Aybeta and Hernandez. “They also put their time in,” Stehle said.

Winton was a team captain for the 2023 season, and so was Hernandez. “It was great to watch her grow in that position and grow in her role,” Stehle said of Hernandez.

Last year Baylee Howley, who was a Fallbrook High School senior in 2022, was the Valley League’s player of the year. Howley was the Warriors’ catcher. Hernandez played second base and 2022 senior Lexi Perez was Fallbrook’s starting shortstop. This year Hernandez played catcher with some activity at shortstop.

“It’s not easy to come in behind Baylee, but Valerie did. She always has that whatever the team needs attitude,” Stehle said.

For all the positions Hernandez played, she committed two errors in 74 total chances during league play for a fielding percentage of .973. Hernandez had 64 putouts and eight assists in Fallbrook’s league contests. Her overall .980 fielding percentage reflects 153 total chances with 134 putouts, 16 assists and three errors. At the plate Hernandez batted .391 in league play with nine hits including a double, four runs scored, eight runs batted in and three stolen bases. She batted .340 overall with 17 hits including the double, ten runs scored, 11 runs driven in and four stolen bases.

Aybeta played first base last year and moved to third base for 2023 after 2022 third baseman Berlin Broussard transferred to Temecula Valley High School. “That’s a tough position to come into, and she did it well,” Stehle said.

At the plate Aybeta batted .360 in league games with nine hits including a double, three runs scored and five runs batted in. Her overall batting average was .351 and she had 20 hits including four doubles and a triple, 12 runs scored, 10 runs driven in and two stolen bases. “She has nice power in her bat,” Stehle said.


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