There was little doubt who the top softball players in the state were during the 2022 season, they were the players whose teams rode their arms and bats all the way to state titles.
The Deseret News softball Players of the Year were so dominant they combined for an 89-20 record on the mound with 804 strikeouts. At the plate, they combined for 56 home runs and 215 RBIs.
Here’s a look at the 2022 Deseret News softball Players of the Year.
6A Player of the Year
Jolie Mayfield, Riverton, Jr.
Power-hitting shortstops like Jolie Mayfield don’t come around often.
Riverton’s cleanup hitter terrorized opposing pitchers all year, crushing the ball for 19 home runs and 65 RBIs to go along with her scintillating .596 batting average.
It was her approach in the batters box that made her so difficult to deal with.
“Jolie carries herself the same way whether she just hit a home run or she just struck out,” said Riverton coach Katelyn Elliott. “She’s going up with the same approach, every single time. She’s got a sound swing, she puts the time in in the cages.”
The junior University of Utah commit got a base hit in 25 of 28 games this season, and drove in a run in at least one run in 21 of 28 games.
In Riverton’s seven playoff wins she went 16 for 21 for three home runs and 15 RBIs.
As great as she was at the plate, she was every bit as good at shortstop.
“If the ball is hit to Jolie you know it’s an out, and when it’s not it’s almost shocking,” said Elliott.
Riverton’s coach recalls one game this season in which Mayfield did make an error, and she immediately turned to her assistant coach and said, “So she is human.”
Fortunately for Riverton’s coaches, they get Mayfield back for another season next year and it’s crazy to think her numbers at the plate may get even better.
5A Player of the Year
Avery Sapp, Spanish Fork, Jr.
Avery Sapp’s ability to control a softball game from the plate and the circle this season was something no team in 4A had an answer for this season.
The junior pitcher posted a 21-3 record for the state champion Dons with a 0.94 ERA and a 258 strikeouts. She hit double-digit strikeouts in six of seven playoff games this season.
“Avery Sapp is a very dominant pitcher, she believes every time she takes the mound she is going to win. Her stuff is by far some of the best I have ever seen; very difficult to hit with lots of speed and movement. She makes it all look so effortless and is always striving to be the best player she can be. Having that mindset is what makes her so great. She’s never complacent with what she achieves on the field,” said Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis.
Sapp only allowed four earned runs during the 7-0 showing in the playoffs.
“Avery and Ashlyn (Losee) had an incredible pitcher-to-catcher bond. They trusted each other, had a game plan and got it done. It was fun to see those two work together,” said Jarvis.
After mowing teams down from the circle, the UVU commit would turn around and do the same from the plate.
She finished the season with a .534 batting average, 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. She ended the season on a 14-game hitting streak.
4A Player of the Year
Markessa Jensen, Ridgeline, Jr.
Markessa Jensen proved during her senior season it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
Bear River is the measuring stick for every softball team in 4A, and in two region games this year with Jensen on the mound Ridgeline didn’t quite measure up, losing both by a combined 17-9 tally.
Fast forward to the state tournament and Jensen was nearly untouchable, particularly against Bear River in the two 4A state championships games as the Bears scored just four total runs in 14 innings as the Riverhawks claimed the 4A state championship.
“Markessa took some time to fully believe in who she was but by the end of the season, when we needed her the most, she was at her best. She worked methodically and pitched with power and control. She helped herself with some timely hits which built leads throughout the year,” said Ridgeline coach Michael Anderson.
Jensen finished the season with a 22-3 record and a 2.87 ERA. In the state tournament she went 5-0.
At the plate she batted .406 with 11 home runs, eight doubles and 44 RBIs.
Her pitching is what separated her from the rest of the 4A field.
“We came to state with a plan of going two or three pitchers deep. Kessa pitched in such a way that it would have been foolish to not have her throwing every pitch against great teams and great players. She thrived on the pressure and the bigger the moment the more precise she pitched. In the end she threw every pitch at state. Just incredible,” said Anderson.
3A Player of the Year
Tiffany Hermansen, Manti, Sr.
When Manti lost its first seven games this year against quality upper-classification teams, it was Tiffany Hermansen who took the loss in six of those games in the circle.
How she responded to the adversity spurred a stunning turnaround that led to a Manti state championship a couple months later.
“Tiffany is a competitive player. At the first of the season when we were not performing at the level our team should be competing at, Tiffany was willing to listen to us coaches, implement what we coached and accept what she needed to do to improve her individual skills, which in turn, pushed the team to be better,” said Manti coach Susan Hatch. “She let her actions speak for themselves, and put in the required work for that to take place.”
She was nearly unhittable the rest of the season as she finished with a 22-7 record with 174 strikeouts and a 1.81 ERA. She recorded the victory in the circle in every playoff game.
For the season she also batted .407 with six doubles, 13 home runs and 35 RBIs. She homered in three of Manti’s five playoff victories.
“Tiffany’s leadership this year was key to our team’s growth and development, as well as our overall confidence,” said Hatch.
2A Player of the Year
Kelsey Grant, Duchesne, Sr.
Whether in the batters box or the circle, junior Kelsey Grant seemed to have a calming effect on the entire Duchesne dugout.
Time and time she delivered regardless of the circumstances and that continued until the final day of the season as she was instrumental in leading the Eagles to their first softball state title in school history.
“Kelsey is a leader and a hard worker with confidence and composure. She never gets rattled or lets the pressure get to her. She was in a lot of pressure situations this year in the circle and the batter’s box and as a coaching staff we knew she would get it done,” said Duchesne coach Kyle Grant. “Kelsey always wants what’s best for the team. She is a gritty tough player, the type of player every coach wants on their team.”
On the final day of the season she helped Duchesne work back through the 2A one-loss bracket for the championship as she pitched 21 innings and recorded 22 strikeouts while allowing zero earned runs.
For the season she finished with a 24-7 record, 2.19 ERA and 237 strikeouts. At the plate she batted .459 with 60 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and 33 RBIs.