She's qualified because: Carried Miners to the Division I championship – during the program's first season in the Central Section's premier playoff bracket – with her arm and bat. The West Yosemite League MVP went 25-4 with a 1.10 ERA, 14 shutouts and 172 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings while hitting .384 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 28 runs and 33 RBIs. Hyland pitched a three-hit shutout and singled in the winning run as El Diamante beat top-seeded Stockdale 1-0 for the title. Has 48 wins, 13 home runs and 66 RBIs in two seasons.
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There's a lot to like about Sierra Hyland's softball game.
Such as the El Diamante High standout's power-packed bat that produced the winning hit in the Central Section Division I championship.
And the rocket arm that shut out .409-hitting, top-seeded and defending champion Stockdale 1-0 in the final.
Then there's what coach Travis Roebuck likes most about The Bee's Player of the Year:
"We have her back for two more years. She brings so much to the table for us. She's the reason why we're here."
The sophomore was the driving force as the Miners won a school-record 28 games and stormed to a title during its first season since being promoted from Division II because of the section's quest to create competitive equity among playoff groupings.
The powerful right-handed batter did the job at the plate, hitting .384 with 12 doubles, a triple, six home runs and 33 RBIs.
The fire-balling right-hander was equally impressive inside the circle, going 25-1 with a 1.10 ERA, 14 shutouts and 172 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings.
"Every time she steps to the plate, she a threat," Hanford West coach Jeff Harger said. "And every time she's on the mound, if you don't bring your best game, you aren't going to score many runs."
Following a breakout freshman season (.323 average with seven homers and 33 RBIs, and a 23-7 record with a 1.52 ERA and 254 strikeouts) that saw Hyland lead El Diamante to the D-II final, she took it up a notch.
Roebuck noticed a drive inside Hyland during offseason weight training, when she set the school's girls squat record at 245 pounds and became the first female in El Diamante's 500-pound lift club, which represents a collective total lifted in the squat, cleans and bench press.
Then there was the intensity level at practice that shot up after Hyland's briefly delayed arrival from basketball season.
"She brought a seriousness," Roebuck said. "Everything we needed to compete in D-I."
After losing 8-0 in the D-II final the year before to a Lemoore team the Miners had beaten three times during the regular season, Hyland wasn't about to let her team fall short of a title again.
"I thought at the beginning we could win it," Hyland said. "We just needed to apply ourselves, work hard and believe in ourselves.
"I think was a little tougher. But we treated it the same so it wouldn't affect our playing."
For all the success Hyland has enjoyed, it hasn't always been smooth sailing for her inside the circle. She's developed a habit over the years of putting herself in trouble with a leadoff walk or a hit batter.
"I like the drama of it," Hyland joked.
Roebuck said Hyland is at her best after creating her own mess.
"I think she pitches better under pressure," he said. "She really doesn't get frazzled. It really doesn't matter what the situation is, she has a straight face and goes to work.
"It also doesn't faze her what type of batter she's going up against. That's another confidence she brings to our team. And the girls play for her. They are in her back pocket. They will sell out and make plays on defense."