The East Valley has hundreds of athletes who will move on to play college sports, a few might eventually reach the professional ranks. Needless to say, paring down a list of the top players from the 2012-13 school year was no easy task. However, there were five females that stood out above the rest, either for their complete dominance in one sport or their ability to compete at the highest level in different ones.
Here are the candidates for the Tribune’s Female Athlete of the Year award.
The winner will be announced in one week.
Ashley Hatch, Sr., Highland, soccer/track and field
She might go down as one of the best female athletes in Gilbert district history. She was arguably worthy of being the Tribune Girls Soccer Player of the Year for a second consecutive season after she scored 44 goals (eight game-winners) and had nine assists as Highland reached the semifinals, one year after she led them to the state title. She holds the school’s career marks in goals (130) and total points (327), and is headed to BYU for soccer this fall. As if that wasn’t enough, she also took second in the 300 hurdles (39.94 seconds) in the Division I track state meet and was the district leader both hurdles and the 4x100 medley relay.
Val Kaff, Sr., Mountain View, softball
Arguably the most valuable player to her team’s success (boys or girls) in the East Valley high school scene this season, Kaff’s right arm threw 216 innings and, in the process, lifted the Toros to the Division I semifinals and the Dorado Classic tournament trophy early in the season. She went 27-7, led all of Arizona with 431 strikeouts (two per inning), and a 0.81 earned run average. She posted 20 strikeouts vs. Desert Vista in a second-round state tournament game, then beat No. 1-seed Glendale Mountain Ridge. She was Mesa’s city player of the year as well as for Section 3 in Division I. Until she ran into a couple buzzsaws named Red Mountain and Chaparral, she was on the verge of doing what former St. Mary’s standout Dallas Escobedo did for four years in high school softball. She heads to Michigan State to pitch this fall.
Ashlee Moore, Jr., Hamilton, girls basketball/track and field
You name it, she does it (almost). She’s been on this list a couple times already in her high school career because of her versatility, and, with her foot speed and leaping ability, she’s not going away. A catalyst for Hamilton basketball team’s run to the Division I semifinals (despite a whole new backcourt), she averaged nearly 10 points, six rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot per game. Track, however, is her calling card. She won the Div. I state title in long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 9 1/2 inches, a foot further than the competition. After winning state titles in the high jump her freshman and sophomore seasons, she took second place this year in Division I (5 feet, 8 inches). With most Pac-12 schools having pursued her for college athletics, her hope is to someday become a decathlete. She’s practically halfway there.
Chantel Osahor, Sr., St. Mary’s girls basketball/track
Osahor’s unique basketball abilities were on full display once again in 2012-13 as she helped lead the Knights’ dynasty to a third consecutive state title. Osahor won the Tribune’s Player of the Year award for the second straight year, as her combination of scoring, passing and rebounding gifts overwhelmed opponents. She will play at Washington next season. Osahor also competed in track, finishing in fifth place in Division I in both shot put and discus. Her best shot put distance of the year was 42 feet, while her best discus throw was 130 feet, 9 inches. Osahor once again displayed one of the most varied skill-sets in the East Valley this year.
Ky Westbrook, Jr., Chandler, track and field/volleyball
The Arizona track scene continues to gain recognition nationally, and Westbrook is leading that charge. She won a second consecutive Tribune Girls Track Athlete of the Year award this spring after capturing three individual state championships (100, 200, shot put) and breaking a pair of state records. Her time of 23.39 seconds in the 200-meter dash broke the former record by more than two-tenths of a second, and she threw a shot put 47 feet, 9 inches, which surpassed the old mark of 47-5 inches set by Cindy Johnson in 1980. Westbrook is one of the best sprinters in the country and will compete at national events throughout the summer. She also started on the Chandler girls volleyball team in the fall as an outside hitter.
Honorable mention: Jaden DeGracie, Sr., Highland, soccer; Nikki Hess, Sr., Horizon, volleyball; Dani Jones, So., Desert Vista, track/cross country; Bre Macha, Jr., Red Mountain, softball; Sydnie Martindale, So., Higley, basketball/volleyball/track; Hannah O’Sullivan, Fr., Xavier, golf; Kellie Peay, Jr., Xavier, soccer; Sydney Wiese, Sr., Pinnacle, basketball.