The 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA High School Softball Team was selected based on performance, level of competition and strength of schedule.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Taylor Dockins, Norco (Calif.)
Name: Rob Weil
School: Los Alamitos (Calif.)
It sounds so simple in theory: When a team beats you, turn around and beat them right back.
Theory and reality don’t always match up. If a high school season lasts 30 games, there is almost always a chance to make up for a loss — it just doesn’t usually happen against the team that just beat you, especially if those losses come in tournaments against non-conference teams.
The Los Alamitos softball team tasted defeat three times this spring, in three separate in-season tournaments. Each time the Griffins saw their conquerors again, and all three times they exacted their revenge.
Fortunate to have a roster crammed with Division I college talent, Los Al coach Rob Weil still had the wherewithal to keep his team focused for all three of those return engagements, all against nationally ranked opponents, earning him the American Family Insurance ALL-USA High School Softball Coach of the Year honors.
None of those rematches was bigger than the California Southern Section Division 1 championship game on June 3. Norco (Calif.) entered the game 33-0 and ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Super 25. Los Al was No. 6 in the rankings.
And with an historic season on the line, Los Alamitos ruined the Cougars’ perfect season with a 3-1 victory and the Griffins’ first Southern Section title.
The Griffins finished 28-3 on the year and would move up to No. 1 in the Super 25.
“I told them when we were in pregame today, ‘We’ve beat every team that we’ve played this year,’” Weil told the OC Register. “We lost to La Habra, played them the second game and beat them. Played Mission Viejo, beat them in the second game. I said, ‘Let’s go out and do the same thing tonight.’”
The Griffins did it behind a strong pitching performance from Ryan Lenhart, who allowed just three hits, and a two-run single from catcher Mary Iakopo. With a runner on first, center fielder Jenna Kean ended the game with a spectacular running catch. Lenhart (Maryland), Iakopo (Oregon) and Kean (Arizona) are three of the 21 players in the Los Al program who have signed with or have received interest from Division I college programs.
The sectional championship was Weil’s first in his nine years at Los Al but his sixth overall as he won five in an eight-year stretch at (Garden Grove, Calif.) Pacifica between 1997 and 2004.