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Softball St. Anthony

St. Anthony Saints Softball Season Preview

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In an era of high school softball when transfers have become more normalized, St. Anthony softball has been able to produce consistent success while retaining its players and families along the way.

St. Anthony coach Joseph Younger thinks there’s a very simple reason.

“These kids wanted to come to St. Anthony, I’m not out recruiting or asking the kids to come, they want to come because I believe it’s a great school,” said Younger. “I sent my daughter to St. Anthony for the education and the sense of community there. I tell them, ‘Don’t come here to play softball, come here for the education and what softball has to order.’ Softball is a bonus and I love St. Anthony softball.”

The Saints have a bunch of starters returning and ready to get back to where they think they belong, and that’s at the top of a challenging Del Rey League followed by a deep playoff run. St. Anthony won a CIF SoCal Division III championship in 2022, but now after a rough season full of injuries they’re down in CIF-SS Division 5 this season.

“We got moved down divisions and I told the girls to take that personally,” said Younger. “We belong in the higher division with better teams and that’s the way I scheduled.”

One of the many experienced returners taking a leadership role is senior third baseman Miracle McKenzie, who is verbally committed to attend the University of New Mexico.

“Last year wasn’t our best,” said McKenzie.  “But dropping to Division 5 has us pretty hungry and we’re ready to get out there. Last year was really new after a lot of seniors left us, it just wasn’t our time… I was already working on it sophomore and especially junior year without seniors, I had to step up. I’m more of a lead by example.”

McKenzie said she’s been working hard in the offseason on offense and defense. That’s included a lot of work hitting off the tee in order to break her swing down to find more centered balance. She’s also been taking extra reps at third base charging the ball and making strong throws to first. 

“She’s a special kid,” said Younger of McKenzie. “She hits the ball as far as I’ve seen girls hit balls.”

Although Younger said his team can hit home runs from any spot in the order, he wants them to play more like a cohesive unit in clutch situations.

“We can’t live off home runs,” said Younger. “At the end of the day you have to rely on fundamental softball. Get them on, move them over and score them.”

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Left fielder Alayna Veavealagi is a sophomore leadoff hitter in front of big bats like McKenzie and junior NataNia Leomiti who is coming back from injury.

In the circle, returning starter Jane Quinn will be joined by a fresh arm in sophomore Ivy Burnham. They will be throwing to new starting catcher Yaa Claybrook.

Freshmen Elisa Iosua, Violet Burnham and Camryn Sanchez will all play impact roles in their first years with the team, but both Younger and McKenzie said it hasn’t been hard folding them into the team because they already have sisters on the roster.

Younger also said that the number one goal this season is to compete with Del Rey League foes Bishop Amat, St. Paul, Bishop Montgomery and Mary Star of the Sea.

“Our pitchers are going to have to be on and we’re going to have to play solid defense,” said Younger. “We can’t take pitches off in this league. We have to keep the score down and hit the ball the way we know we can.”

“We have to trust ourselves and the plan and the process,” added McKenzie. “That’s trusting coaches, and just going out there and giving it our all.”

St. Anthony started the season 2-3 with wins over Beckman and Fullerton.

St. Anthony Starting Lineup

P- Jane Quinn, Jr.

C- Yaa Claybrook, Jr.

1B- Ivy Burnham, So.

2B- Camryn Sanchez, Fr.

3B- Miracle McKenzie, Sr.

SS- Elisa Iosua, Fr.

OF- Kweenkennahlae Tauala, Jr.

DP- NataNia Leomiti, Jr.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.