Citrus Valley High School’s softball productivity seemed spread out everywhere.

One played in the Ivy League, another in a corn-growing state, while Arizona, Oregon and Southern California attracted over a handful of softball players looking to complete their education while serving time on a diamond.

There has already been a coterie of past Lady Blackhawks’ players that have concluded their collegiate career.

In past years, Citrus Valley was an elite high school program, having notched the 2012 CIF Division 6 championship while finishing runner-up in 2011 and 2014.

Ashlyn Morris was CIF Player of the Year in the Lady Blackhawks’ 2012 title-winning season. Morris, who was the 2013 Ken Hubbs Award winner, concluded her collegiate career at Iona (N.Y.) College in 2017.

She was one of many collegiate players lifted out of Citrus Valley.

Since joining the ranks of the Citrus Belt League in 2015, Citrus Valley has hit a higher degree of competition with the likes of Yucaipa, Redlands East Valley and Redlands.

The list of former Citrus Valley High School players was impressive, to say the least. Longtime Lady Blackhawks’ coach April Finazzo, who provided a list, said, “I hope I didn’t forget anyone.”

Zoe Richard (Cal State Fullerton) -- Career just ended in the NCAA Division I Regionals, batting .287 with 6 HRs for one of Southern California’s top collegiate programs. The lefty-hitting Richard might’ve had her best season in 2018 when she hit .309 with 3 HRs, making first-team All-Big West Conference. Team got knocked out three times in four years by NCAA powerhouse UCLA.

Around these parts, most probably remember Richard for batting over .500 for the Lady Blackhawks.

Maxine Ortega (Columbia University) -- She hit .397 with 4 HRs against the likes of Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown and an entire Ivy League contingent. The cool thing for the Lady Lions (24-21) is that Ortega has two seasons of eligibility remaining. The un-cool thing is that Columbia dropped two straight to Yale in the Ivy League Tournament.

Jackie Chairez (Iowa State) -- Playing in the big-time Big 12, she got into 25 games, starting seven, she got into games against College World Series finalist Oklahoma State, singling and scoring a run against the Cowgirls back in March.

Taylor Troost (Cal State Northridge) -- A Big West Conference all-freshman team member in 2016, the former Lady Blackhawks’ pitcher went 8-8, 10-9 and 9-11 before finishing her senior season this past spring. She appeared in a game against Cal State Fullerton, which included another former CV player, Zoe Richard.

Taylor Babbitt (Arizona Christian University) -- The former CV outfielder concluded her collegiate career with a .304 for a team that finished 30-20 this past season. She had transferred back from Kansas Wesleyan after her freshman season. Prior to this season she hit .345, .273 and .292 with 4 HRs.

Jordyn Smith (University of Redlands) -- She got into 32 games as a senior, batted .291 and hit a team-high 3 HRs, by far her best season for the rebuilding Lady Bulldogs.

Desiree Lopez (Iowa Lakes) -- No longer playing collegiately, the combination second baseman-outfielder got herself into 86 games over two seasons for the Lakers’ community college program.

Jamie Leon (Trinidad State, Colo.) -- Having just concluded her sophomore season, she homered against Lamar Community College, hitting .302 in 30 games.

Karina Guerra (Arizona Western) -- In the scorching climate of Yuma, the freshman outfielder tripled three times, swiped 7 out of 8 bases on a team that finished 53-12. The team won its way to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in St. George, Utah before getting eliminated by Shelton State.

Mia Gomez (Concordia University-Portland) -- Barely played her frosh season for a 31-23 squad that occasionally makes it into California to play the likes of Cal State San Bernardino and Concordia-Irvine.


Baseball’s annual free agent draft came and went last week.

Former Citrus Valley catcher Michael Carpentier, who transferred to Yucaipa a couple years back, was taken by Tampa Bay (30th round, 908th pick).

Had our eye on a couple other possible draftees, namely right-hander Tyson Heaton, Carpentier’s Yucaipa teammate, who could choose college or tending to a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Heaton, meanwhile, was taken by the Angels in the 40th round (1,201st overall) is a 6-2, 205 pitcher. He was taken with the second to last pick in the selection process.

Both were key players in Yucaipa’s 2018 CIF Division 2 championship.

Redlands East Valley’s Kaden Hopson, a catcher bound for Arizona State, did not get selected in the three-day, 40-round draft.

Citrus Valley’s first and only draftee -- pitcher Luke Lanphere, 2013 by Texas in the 21st round -- lasted until March this season before he was released by the Down East Wood Ducks.

Between 2013 and 2018, his final season, Lanphere was a career minor leaguer who went 14-9 with one save, starting 33 times over 57 career games.

He played in such digs as the Class A Spokane Indians and high Class A Hickory Crawdads after a couple of Rookie League seasons in Arizona.


On the University of Redlands athletic website, there’s a nice presentation of recent graduate Nova Siegel, who is continuing her softball-playing days as a professional in Austria. She will play for the Wanderers of the Austrian Softball League.

Siegel overcame some issues to reach this point.

Learn more at

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