The 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA High School Softball Team was selected based on performance, level of competition and strength of schedule.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Rob Weil, Los Alamitos (Calif.)
Name: Taylor Dockins
School: Norco (Calif.)
College: Cal State-Fullerton
Just playing softball this season should have been the goal for Taylor Dockins. But that wasn’t enough. Dockins wanted to do more than play. She wanted to thrive, to conquer, to show that even cancer couldn’t slow her down.
So that’s exactly what Dockins, a senior pitcher for Norco (Calif.), did. She had a season for the ages, setting records and leading the Cougars to the brink of an historic accomplishment. That Norco fell one game short of recording the first perfect season California Southern Section Division I had seen in 32 years doesn’t take away any of those accomplishments. And it doesn’t stop Dockins from being named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA High School Softball Player of the Year.
“She has said on more than one occasion, ‘I do not want to be known as the girl with cancer,’” Norco coach Rick Robinson said. “So now everyone will know her as the girl that broke records.”
Dockins was 33-1 in the circle this season for Norco, which didn’t lose until falling to Los Alamitos (Calif.), 3-1, in the Southern Section Division I title game. Along the way, the 5-foot-5 righty set the Southern Section record for all-time wins with 108 and consecutive wins with 33, which also matched the single-season wins record.
“The season my team had was incredible,” Dockins said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. Being able to do what we did, we led a legacy and will forever be legends. I’m so proud of my team.”
Facing one of the toughest schedules in the country, Dockins dominated her opponents, recording 15 shutouts. She was at her best in the Michelle Carew Classic, throwing four shutouts in five games over three days, including back-to-back shutouts over nationally ranked Los Alamitos and (Orange, Calif.) Orange Lutheran in the semifinals and final.
Dockins doesn’t overpower opponents—she recorded just 183 strikeouts in 203 innings. But she has terrific control—28 walks—and pinpoint accuracy. She’s also no slouch at the plate. Dockins batted .454 with two home runs, 30 runs scored, a .546 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage.
“Her ability in the circle to hit her corners and change speeds keeps hitters off-balance consistently,” (Corona, Calif.) Centennial coach Krista Humphreys said. “She has great command of her pitches and is very poised on the mound.”
Poise. That’s one thing Dockins has in spades. It helped her get through what occurred last July, when after feeling severe abdominal pain on a flight to Colorado with her summer ball team, she returned to Los Angeles and had the left lobe of her liver removed, including a five-inch tumor. Later diagnosed with a rare liver cancer called fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, Dockins was back on a softball field two months later.
“With my health condition, my approach for this season was to just be able to play on the softball field again,” she said. “And of course win CIF and a league championship with my sisters behind me. Coming back from everything and having a dream season is something I will cherish forever.”