One team sent lucky 13 into college softball ranks

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Obrey Brown
Jun 21, 2018

They were spread all across the nation, ranging from New York to Florida, from Colorado to Ohio and New Mexico — not to mention Southern California locales like Riverside, San Diego, La Verne and Northridge.

It probably isn’t a record, but when 2012 Citrus Valley High School’s softball championship season is recalled, imagine that a dozen Lady Blackhawk players off that team eventually played in the collegiate ranks.

Team reunions might be a blast with plenty of aerial miles racked up just to show.

Two of those players turned up at NCAA Division 1 Bethune Cookman (Fla.), counting both Sophia Ortega and Kailey Richard, who spent time at Tennessee State before settling on Florida.

Twin ace pitchers Taylor Troost (Cal State Northridge) and Hailey Jaquess (University of La Verne) each had a hand, literally, in pitching Citrus Valley to a 5-2 win over Kern Valley High School in the 2012 championship game.

Ashlynn Morris, perhaps, best remembered as the girls’ 2013 Ken Hubbs Award winner, wound up at Iona (N.Y.) College.

La Sierra University-Riverside lured a pair of Citrus Valley players — Melanie Vidaurri and Katie Witherby — to play in Golden Eagles’ colors.

Nikki Hoffman wound up at the University of Colorado Springs.

Chandler Geary was seen briefly in UC San Diego colors.

Aerial Carlson crashed the party at Riverside City College this past season with huge numbers.

Throw in outfielder Samantha Glover, who played at Eastern New Mexico.

Erika Gerber saw time at Malone (Ohio) University.


Morris capped quite a career from 2014-2017, racking up 147 hits and scoring 83 runs — ninth best in Iona school history.

The onetime Lady Blackhawk outfielder — the 2012 Max Preps Small School Player of the Year as a junior, All-CIF that same season — hit .304 as a freshman in 34 games for the Gaels.

It didn’t look too bad, either, that she made the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Academic team three times.

Playing against the likes of Buffalo, Army, Niagara, Manhattan, Green Bay, Northwestern, Columbia (N.Y.), St. Peter’s, Canisius and Hartford, Morris in well over 125 games for Iona.

Hoffman’s best season at Colorado Spring might have been 2016 when she belted five HRs and hit .378 for a 9-23 squad.

Vidaurri, playing for the NAIA Golden Eagles, played four seasons (2014-2017) on the infield, carving out a .318 over 176 games, reaching base at a .416 clip.

As La Sierra’s left fielder in 2014 and 2015, Witherby hit .323 over two seasons for the NAIA Golden Eagles, swiping 18 bases in 20 attempts over two years.

Glover, playing mostly part-time roles in batting .292 over 2017 and 2018. Eastern New Mexico University coach Katie Welborn recently stepped down after a 52-112 record over her three seasons.

At Malone, Gerber belted two home runs for a 4-31 in 2015, perhaps her collegiate career highlight.

Over four seasons, Jaquess was a mainstay on La Verne’s mound — 39-20 from 2013-2017 with a 2.84 ERA. Some of those were seasons in which La Verne’s biggest rival when the University of Redlands was nationally prominent.

Even before showing up at Bethune (Fla.) Cookman, Richard spent her freshman season at Tennessee State, starting in 45 out of 47 games and hitting a team-high .305 with two HRs.

She capped her collegiate career this past season, hitting .296 with 30 RBIs for a 31-26 Lady Wildcats’ team that lost to No. 1-ranked Florida in the opening round of the NCAA Division 1 Regionals.

One game later, Bethune Cookman was eliminated by University of Southern Florida.

Richard went 2-for-3 in her final game against Southern Florida.

Sophia Ortega, who became Citrus Valley’s first-ever athlete to commit to a college, played in 210 career games at Bethune Cookman, hitting a career-best .338 as a sophomore in 2015.

Geary showed up as a freshman at UC San Diego in 2014, hitting .500 in limited duty (7-for-14).


Troost and Carlson appear to be the lone players off that 2012 Lady Blackhawks’ squad still playing.

Richard just concluded her Bethune Cookman career.

As a Riverside City College sophomore, Carlson smoked 17 home runs and batted .368 for a Lady Tigers’ playoff team. Her 17th home run, a two-run shot, came in RCC’s season-ending game against Bakersfield on May 5.

In a 9-0 win over Fullerton earlier this season, Carlson belted three HRs.

Troost, who was Citrus Valley’s one-time pitching ace, finished 9-11 in her junior year at Cal State Northridge (23-36) this past spring. She logged 116 innings with a 3.47 earned run average.

Probably best remembered for pitching the Lady Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over Kern Valley in a Southern Section Division 6 championship in 2012 — as a freshman — Troost left Citrus Valley with a lifetime 52-12 record over four seasons with ERAs of 0.69, 0.57, 1.65 and 0.82.

Sharing the circle with Jaquess, then a junior, the pair helped Citrus Valley spin off a 27-2 overall record.

One season earlier, the Lady Blackhawks reached the division championship, but lost to Downey Calvary Chapel, 6-5. One season later, they won the title.

It was the start of a major softball production.

Did we leave anyone out?