By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
It was a very special season for the Palo Alto baseball and Castilleja softball teams in 2010. Paly won a league title, Castilleja shared one and both reached the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Palo Alto compiled the best record in school history while going 29-4, falling in the CCS Division II finals to Burlingame. Castilleja won 18 games, including its first ever in the postseason before losing to eventual CCS champ Valley Christian, 2-1, in 11 innings in the quarterfinals.
Both teams were duly recognized for their outstanding seasons by having players named to the Cal-Hi Sports all-state teams.
Palo Alto placed senior Joc Pederson on the 30-man first team while fellow senior Scott Witte made the third team. Castilleja was recognized with senior pitcher Sammy Albanese making the 30-player first team as a multi-purpose player. She also was first team all-state as a pitcher for Small Schools in addition to being named Player of the Year for that division.
The all-state softball honors were announced Wednesday.
"This award is more than anything I ever expected for myself," Albanese said of the player of the year award. "It's a huge honor and it's a great way to finish off my high school career. What I've been able to accomplish hasn't really sunk in, to be honest, and I'm not quite sure it ever will. Probably because I really don't try to focus on the stats and records but, instead, focus on bonding with my team and helping my team and coaches out to get better every day."
Cal-Hi Sports said it would be hard not to honor the Northwestern-bound Albanese, especially after she received national attention when she tied the national record for consecutive no-hitters with 10. She also tied a state record with 22 strikeouts in a seven-inning game and left her name among the state record book in various other categories.
On the season, Albanese was 18-4-1 with a 0.05 ERA and just one earned run allowed all season. She also struck out 395 batters in 162.1 innings. Providing herself with plenty of run support, Albanese hit .606 with nine home runs and had 58 RBI.
Albanese is the first from the Bay Area to be Small Schools State Player of the Year, but she's not the first from the CCS since Notre Dame-Salinas has been considered small schools before and has had two of its players chosen.
Albanese currently is playing with her traveling team and has been keeping busy.
"Things with my travel team are great," she said. "I've been given the opportunity to hit in addition to pitching, which is really nice because I LOVE to hit almost as much as I love being in the circle. We have just a few more tournaments and then we have nationals in Southern California in the second week in August. That'll be great because we'll be playing against the best teams in the nation. Then it's off to Evanston!"
Pederson also is keeping busy this summer while playing in Hawaii. He's expected to return next week and, perhaps, make a decision to whether he'll play for USC this coming season or sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who drafted him in the 11th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.
Pederson was sensational for Palo Alto this season while helping the Vikings win 24 consecutive games, another school record. He batted .515 while driving in 22 runs and stealing 22 bases and scoring 53 runs.
Witte, who was SCVAL De Anza Division co-Player of the Year along with Pederson, made his mark as a pitcher while compiling a 13-3 record with a 2.21 ERA. He was recognized on the all-state third team as an infielder.
Two other local baseball players also were recognized on the all-state team. Menlo-Atherton senior Jeff Keller was named to the second team as did Menlo School senior Danny Diekroeger.
Keller hit .523 this past season with 14 doubles, three home runs and 35 RBI. Diekroeger batted .462 with 41 RBI. He added 11 doubles and five home runs while helping the Knights win the CCS Division III championship and finishing 25-6.
Also honored on the all-state softball team was Victoria Hayward of Mountain View. The senior had a 0.83 ERA with 223 strikeouts in addition to batting .459 with 24 runs scored. Before her senior season, Hayward was the youngest player ever named to the Canadian National Softball Team.
In addition to these individual honors, four local teams were recognized by the California Interscholastic Federation as having the best combined grade point average in the state.
The CIF Academic Team champions in 2009-10 included the Menlo School girls' lacrosse team, the Menlo softball squad, the Sacred Heart Prep girls' swim team and the Castilleja water polo team.
This season marked the sixth year that all CIF-approved sports were eligible for consideration. A total of 28 teams in 17 sports were eligible to be the best academic teams in the state.
The Sacred Heart Prep girls' swim team had a combined 3.86 GPA while the Menlo softball squad was next at 3.383. The Menlo girls' lacrosse team compiled a 3.82 while the Castilleja water polo team checked in with a 3.79