Top Empire athletes earn state baseball, softball honors

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Top players on the Empire’s best baseball and softball teams earned all-state honors, joining elite squads named by Cal-Hi Sports.

Leading the selections were Francis Christy, the All-Empire Large School Baseball Player of the Year from Casa Grande, and Dana Thomsen, the region’s Large School Softball Player of the Year from Petaluma. Also selected all-state in baseball were Darin Newman, Analy, and Dusty Oliver, St. Vincent. In softball, Ursyla Baumgarten, St. Vincent, was named all-state.

Christy made second team all-state at catcher after batting .423 with six home runs and 19 RBIs. Casa Grande won 21 games in a row and later fell in the North Coast Section Division 2 championship. The Gauchos finished third statewide in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings.

Also earning second team all-state honors was Thomsen, as a multipurpose player. Thomsen went 18-1 as a pitcher with 17 complete games and nine shutouts. Also an outfielder, she hit.391 with 16 RBIs for the Trojans. Petaluma ran off 26 consecutive victories with the season ending in the NCS Division 2 semifinals.

Newman was selected to the medium schools first team. A shortstop, Newman made All-Empire and was the Sonoma County League Player of the Year.

Newman batted .419 with 23 RBIs for the Tigers. Analy made the program’s first section playoff appearance since 2009, reaching the NCS Division 3 championship contest.

Making the small schools second team was Oliver, an All-Empire pitcher and shortstop. On the mound Oliver won six games including a pair of complete-game shutouts.

With the bat, he hit .441 with 33 RBIs, helping St. Vincent take the NCL II title and win an NCS Division 5 playoff game. Oliver returns as a senior next season.

St. Vincent also placed Baumgarten on the medium-small schools first team in softball. The slugging shortstop made All-Empire and was the NCL II Most Valuable Player. Baumgarten knocked in 36 runners, batting .531 on the season.

Of her 44 hits, 15 went for extra bases. Following a tough nonleague schedule featuring Empire large school teams, St. Vincent marched through the NCS Division 5 playoffs to capture a second consecutive title.

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