Petaluma High School senior pitcher Dana Thomsen continues to add to her growing high school softball honors. Thomsen, the Sonoma County League's Most Valuable Player, has been chosen the All-Empire softball Player of the Year by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Thomsen was also an All-State second team choice by Cal-Hi Sports.

Thomsen was the most dominant pitcher in the Redwood Empire. She had a 17-1 record, with a miniscule 0.71 earned run average, 145 strikeouts and just 16 walks. A good hitter as well as an excellent pitcher, she batted .391 with 27 hits in 27 games, including seven doubles and 16 RBIs.

Thomsen heads an All-Empire large-school team that included two of her teammates — first baseman Gina Barnacle and catcher/shortstop Brie Gerhardt.

Barnacle, a senior, batted .423 with 33 hits in 25 games with four doubles, three triples and a home run. She drove in 19 runs. She also had a 3-0 record as a pitcher with a .179 earned run average, striking out 26 and walking just three in 28 innings.

Sophomore Gerhardt played both shortstop and catcher with equal defensive excellence and was one of the Empire's best hitters no matter where she played, batting .500 with 36 hits in 26 games and leading the team with nine doubles. She also hit a triple and drove in 18 runs.

Also named to the All-Empire first team were Julianna Gutierez, a senior catcher from Sonoma Valley; Kazja Faagata-Averbuck, a sophomore first baseman/pitcher from Rancho Cotate; Mikala Francis, a senior shortstop from Maria Carrillo; Keilani Fronda, a senior outfielder from Rancho Cotate; Denia Vera, a junior pitcher from Santa Rosa; and Rosalina McClelland, a freshman first baseman from Analy.

Petaluma sophomore second basemen Joelle Krist and Casa Grande senior pitcher Courtney Ludlow were chosen to the second team. Krist batted .500 with 36 hits in 26 games and hit two home runs. Ludlow pitched 23 of Casa Grande's 24 games, going 14-9 with a 2.85 earned run average. She struck out 156 and walked 62. At the plate, she hit .458 with 33 hits in 33 games and led the Lady Gauchos with nine doubles and three triples.

Also picked to the second team were freshman designated hitter/first baseman Vickie Espinoza of Rancho Cotate, senior third baseman Madi Ortega of Analy, senior outfielder Maria Ragusa of Analy, junior outfielder Amber Rose of Sonoma Valley, junior catcher Angelica Terrel of Windsor, junior second baseman Brittney Veler of Maria Carrillo and senior utility player Alison Wendler of Santa Rosa.

A pair of outstanding area sophomores, Petaluma outfielder Katy Bisges and Casa Grande infielder Lisa Nadel were placed on the All-Empire third team. Bisges hit .410, with six doubles and a triple, while driving in 14 runs. She also played excellent defense in the outfield. Petaluma's pitcher of the future, she pitched in nine games for the T-Girls, going 5-0 with a 0.25 earned run average. An exceptional fielder, Nadel led Casa Grande with a .466 batting average. She had 34 hits in 23 games with two home runs and 17 RBIs.

Also placed on the third team were El Molino sophomore shortstop Kayla Allen, Maria Carrillo senior outfielder Megan August, Maria Carrillo freshman catcher Hanna Chew, Analy junior infielder Caitie Diedrich, Cardinal Newman junior infielder Kayla Douglas, Piner senior shortstop Allison Lopez and Sonoma Valley senior third baseman Ashley Vail.

Petaluma's Kurt Jastrow was chosen Coach of the Year. He guided the T-Girls to a 28-2 record, the SCL championship and into the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division 2 playoffs.

Small schools

The middle of the North Coast Section Division V champion St. Vincent infield was selected to the All-Empire softball team first team for small schools. Shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten and second baseman Morgan Selmi were both placed on the select first team. Baumgarten, the North Central League II's Most Valuable Player, batted .537, averaging almost two hits a game with 44 hits in 24 games, including seven doubles, five triples and three home runs. Selmi batted .456 with 31 hits in 22 games. She slugged five doubles and four triples and drove home 13 runs. As a duo, they formed a solid up-the-middle defense for the Lady Mustangs.

Cloverdale's slugging senior first baseman Morgan Robinson was chosen Player of the Year.

Also named to the All-Empire first team were Laytonville senior pitcher Natya Cauckwell, Cloverdale freshman pitcher Teanne Edens, Lower Lake sophomore pitcher Shelbie Harris, Calistoga junior catcher Danielle Martin, Cloverdale junior shortstop Jazmin Orozco, Clear Lake senior third baseman Morgan Psalmonds and Clear Lake junior catcher Kelcie Reynolds.

St. Vincent's Don Jensen was chosen Coach of the Year. Jensen directed the Lady Mustangs to a 17-8 record, playing exclusively larger schools during their pre-season. They won their second straight North Central League II and North Coast Section Division 5 championships.

St. Vincent sophomore outfielder/first baseman Alexis Torres and senior third baseman Hannah Upton were picked to the second team. Torres hit .352 and fielded well both in the infield and in the outfield. Upton was a solid third baseman who he batted .392 with 29 hits in 23 games. She led the team with 11 doubles, hit a triple and a home run and drove in 31 runs.

Also chosen to the second team were Middletown senior infielder Maria Castaido, Lower Lake senior shortstop Selena Ledesman, Cloverdale sophomore outfielder Monica Lamley, Cloverdale senior second baseman Brooke Robinson, Cloverdale freshman utility player Jordyn Turner, Calistoga junior outfielder Lily Waggoner and Clear Lake freshman pitcher Rachel Wingler.

St. Vincent sophomore pitcher Hannah Sarlatte was placed on the third team along with Tomales pitcher/second baseman Christa Nygard and infielder Courtney Nygard.

Pitching often against larger schools, Sarlatte had a 10-5 record, striking out 40 and walking just 14. As a hitter, she batted .385 with three doubles and two home runs. Courtney Nygard batted .459, while Christa Nygard hit .500 in 10 games.

Also named to the third team were Clear Lake sophomore shortstop Aliza Atkins, Laytonville senior first baseman Mady Braught, Calistoga junior infielder Krystal Castillo, Anderson Valley senior utility player Mirla Gaxiola, Geyserville junior pitcher Erin Hale and Middletown senior third baseman Cheyanne Hovath.