Outstanding Pitcher of the Year: Rachel Rodriguez
She's qualified because: One of the Central Section's most dominant pitchers helped carry the Grizzlies to a second straight Division I title by going 17-10 with a 0.82 ERA, 197 strikeouts in 171 innings and 10 shutouts. Her record could have been even better if Central hadn't totaled 10 runs in her 10 losses, getting shut out five times. "She kept us in games even when we really struggled," coach Scott Gorton said. "We couldn't ask for more out of a pitcher than that." She pitched her first perfect game in a 2-0 win over Bullard on March 21. Also hit .256 with a homer, seven doubles and 13 RBIs on a team that finished 19-10.
Seizing her opportunity: After sharing time in the circle with Lindsey Clarkson during her first two varsity seasons, the right-handed Rodriguez pitched all but 172/3 innings for the Grizzlies in 2013. And after watching Clarkson pitch a perfect game in the D-I final last season, Rodriguez was ready for her moment in the section's marquee game. She allowed a leadoff home run to friend and travel ball teammate Claire Stucker, but shut out Bullard on three hits the rest of the way in a 2-1 victory. "Last year it was hard waiting my turn," Rodriguez said. "But I realized she was an amazing pitcher. She really helped me and I tried to help her. I think one of the reasons I performed this year is she helped me get there."
Building her résumé: Committed to Boise State, Rodriguez has a 34-14 career mark with a 0.76 ERA, 18 shutouts and 366 strikeouts in 3392/3 innings. She's a career .336 hitter with 20 doubles, seven triples, five homers and 53 RBIs while helping the Grizzlies go 69-25-1. "She's mentally tough," Gorton said. "The one thing you can say about her is you can't tell if she's winning or losing. She has a face that's all business and she doesn't get rattled very easily. She's very determined and asserts her will on the game."