Many Orange County high school softball pitchers were off to excellent starts before the 2020 season was canceled, and they deserve to be recognized.

Based primarily on 2020 statistics and strength of schedule, these were the 25 best pitchers in Orange County softball in 2020. While many star pitchers are also premier hitters and position players, this list reflects only what they accomplished on the mound.

To submit a photo or nominate a player who isn’t the list, email lance@scorebooklive.com. Players who were injured or ineligible for the start of the season can be nominated. The list is in alphabetical order.

Clare Austin – Newport Harbor – SR.

The reigning Wave League Pitcher of the Year had a 4.00 ERA in limited outings before the 2020 season was cut short.

Rebecca Cabezas – Segerstrom – SO.

Cabezas was the only pitcher in Orange County with an ERA under 1.00 in 20 or more innings. She had an ERA of 0.93 and an opposing batting average of .165 in 30 innings.

Natalie Carlos – Godinez Fundamental – SR.

In eight starts, the reigning Golden West League Pitcher of the Year had a 2.22 ERA in 41 innings.

Brooklyn Carreon – Whittier Christian – SO.

Carreon started all nine games she pitched in for the Heralds, completed seven of them for a 7-2 record, and threw a perfect game. She finished the year with an ERA of 1.96, opposing batting average of .178, and opposing OBP of .221.

Taylor Caudill – JSerra – SR.

Caudill appeared in eight of 7-2 JSerra’s nine games and had an ERA of 1.63. The Boise State commit racked up 72 strikeouts in only 38.2 innings and had an opposing batting average of .129.

Alyssa Caulford – Troy – SR.

In seven appearances, Caulford completed five of six games she started including a complete game shutout. She finished with a 1.82 ERA in 42.1 innings.

Tyler Denhart – Los Alamitos – SR.

Los Al (10-0) was among the top-ranked teams in the country in 2020, and Denhart, a Southern Utah commit, was in the circle in eight of those games. She went 6-0 with an ERA of 2.55 in 33 innings despite facing primarily elite teams such as Crescenta Valley, Ironwood Ridge (Arizona), Villa Park, Santiago, and Roosevelt.

Emily Gomez – Esperanza – JR.

Gomez is the reigning North Hills League Pitcher of the Year.

Jenna Gordon – Edison – JR.

Gordon had a tremendous 2020 in only 18 innings. She finished with a 1.94 ERA in three games against Trabuco Hills, Royal, and Sultana.

Devyn Greer – Huntington Beach – JR.

Greer only allowed two earned runs in 19 innings in 2020, good for a 0.74 ERA. In her six appearances she racked up 31 Ks and held opponents to just .127 batting and .191 OBP.

Jolie Gustave – Mater Dei – SR.

The Syracuse commit was 5-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 2020.

Ali Guzman – La Quinta (Westminster) – SO.

Guzman appeared in all but one of the Aztecs’ 10 games and went 6-0 with a save. She finished with a 1.87 ERA and an opposing batting average of .184.

Talia Hannappel – Edison – SR.

Hannappel was arguably the most dominant pitcher in OC in 2020, when factoring in strength of schedule. She got a win in all six appearances, had an ERA of 1.18, recorded 58 Ks in 35.2 innings, and held opponents to a .139 batting average.

Anais Jimenez – Connelly – JR.

Jimenez was the only pitcher to take the mound for Connelly this season, going 5-0. She had a 1.03 ERA, a strong opposing batting average of .163, and 33 strikeouts in 27 innings.

Ciara Loken – Orange Lutheran – FR.

Based on a limited sample size in 2020, Loken is in the running for the county’s top pitcher in the Class of 2023. This past season she had a 3.16 ERA in 31 innings across seven games, and did so with a challenging schedule.

Kylee Magee – Canyon (Anaheim) – SO.

Magee was All-Division 3 and the Crestview League Pitcher of the Year last season as a freshman.

Lindsey Manhart – Trabuco Hills – SR.

The Mustangs challenged themselves with an elite preseason schedule and were still .500 through 13 games (6-6-1). Manhart appeared in all but one game, throwing 60.2 innings and maintaining a 1.50 ERA.

Riley Orcutt – Mater Dei – SR.

Orcutt will play softball next season at Georgia.

Brooke Owens – Santa Margarita – JR.

Owens is committed to Grand Canyon.

Kylee Pim – Calvary Chapel (Santa Ana) – JR.

Pim shares the circle with multiple other standout pitchers, but was first team all-league in 2019 and off to a great start in a few appearances in 2020.

Mia Portillo – Kennedy (La Palma) – SR.

Portillo tossed 25.2 innings across six games for the 10-4 Fighting Irish, pitching against teams like Gahr, Carson, and Cypress. She finished with a 4.09 ERA, 27 strikeouts, and an excellent opposing batting average of just .138.

Piper Reed – Tesoro – SO.

Reed started all eight games for Tesoro and completed half of them, including a complete game shutout. In 47 innings she maintained a 1.79 ERA.

Rena Rocha – Santiago – SR.

Rocha led the Cavaliers to a 27-2 record in 2019, earning all-division honors, and a 4-1 start in 2020.

Emily Rush – Marina – SR.

A reigning All-Division 2 selection, Rush started 10 of 11 games for Marina in 2020. Despite their tough schedule she finished with a 3.64 ERA.

Sydney Saldana – Los Alamitos – SO.

Despite coming in a little below our minimum of 20 innings, Saldana was one of the better pitchers in the state for 16 of them. She was second on the top-ranked Griffins in innings and first in ERA (1.75). Saldana was 2-0 in four starts against elite competition in Santiago, Roosevelt, Villa Park, and Cypress.

Sydney Somerndike – Villa Park – SO.

Somerndike is the ace of a rotation of three strong pitchers for the Spartans.

Grace Uribe – Huntington Beach – SR.

Uribe appeared in six of the Oilers’ seven games and had a 1.85 ERA in 22.2 innings.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Sophia Skerik – Corona del Mar – SR.

McKenzie Wanner – Kennedy (La Palma) – FR.

Haylee Elisalde – Segerstrom – SR.

Julia Doan – San Juan Hills – JR.

Emma Cummings – Trabuco Hills – JR.

Emma Brenchley – Loara – SR.

Alexis Litvak – Costa Mesa – JR.

Sarah Mikami – Beckman – SO.

Heather Turner – Calvary Chapel (Santa Ana) – SO.

Ashley Hester – Cypress – JR.

Kaylie Stewart – Mission Viejo – SO.

UPDATES:

These are players we missed who belonged in the initial post.

LeeAnne Miranda – Westminster – JR.

Westminster’s ace had a 0.19 ERA in 2019, one of the best in the country among players who threw 75 innings.

Sydney Spencer – University (Irvine) – JR.

Spencer played in every game in University’s strong 6-2 start in 2020 after finishing with an ERA of 1.22 last year.

Jayci Kruse – Santa Margarita – JR.

Kruse is committed to Missouri.

Tanna Schweitzer – Laguna Hills – JR.

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In 18 innings, Schweitzer only gave up two earned runs, good for a 0.78 ERA. She also held opposing hitters to .157 BA. She will form one of the top returning pitching duos with Eden Pufahl.

Thank you for joining the discussion on SBLive!

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