P2P NCS Girls Softball Honors
Foothill's Nicole May is the NCS Freshman of the Year. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Hermes)

NCS Freshman of the Year

To say that Nicole May took the North Coast Section by storm in her freshman season would be quite the understatement. The Oklahoma commit merely joined a program which had graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team which had reached the NCS title game, and led it not only back to the title game, but all the way into the winner’s circle.

Purely by the numbers, May’s inaugural high school campaign was one for the ages. In the circle, she posted a 0.84 ERA while striking out a phenomenal 293 batters in 191 innings pitched. And she also thrived at the plate, posting a team-high .460 batting average with 10 home runs and 36 runs batted in.

Yet, it was May’s ability to step into a leadership position which truly resulted in the Falcons’ hanging their first section championship banner in a decade.

“Nicole is a great teammate, from the most talented to the least talented player. She is someone who always does her part, on and off the field,” said Foothill coach Matt Sweeney. “She is very humble and extremely team-oriented. We don’t win NCS this year without her grounded, coachable attitude.”

Putting aside the overall numbers for the season, May also showed an impressive ability to perform at her best in clutch situations. Early in the year, she pitched Foothill into the championship game of the elite Livermore Stampede. Late in the year, she saved her best performances for the games which mattered most.

After losing twice to Amador Valley during the regular season, the Falcons entered the EBAL tournament as underdogs to the Dons. May held San Ramon Valley to one run in a 7-1 semifinal victory, setting up a rematch with Amador Valley for the league title. This time, the freshman put forth one of her best performances, scattering five hits in a 2-0 shutout win. The top performances then continued in the section playoffs.

May shutout Liberty in the first round, and after Foothill got past San Ramon Valley again in the quarterfinals, that set up a showdown with Heritage, who fell to Foothill in last year’s semifinals and was seeking revenge. This time, May stifled a powerful Patriots’ lineup, and added a mammoth two-run homer of her own in the 9-1 victory, again reinforcing an aspect of her game which sometimes got overlooked due to her pitching prowess.

“She can hit out of this world. The ball simply explodes off her bat,” Sweeney said. “It’s part of what sets her apart from other strong pitchers. Her competitiveness is another trait which is unique. She absolutely gets tough in the toughest situations.”

The win over Freedom carried Foothill into the title game against James Logan, and after spotting the Colts a pair of early first-inning runs, the Falcons came flying back with six unanswered runs, as May slammed the door in the circle. After leading her team to both EBAL and NCS titles, May was an easy choice for the Prep2Prep Freshman of the Year, though she herself was not expecting the honor.

“It’s very exciting being recognized as the top freshman, but it couldn’t have been done without the whole team performing well,” May said. “I’m very humbled to earn that title, and also proud to be a part of this team.”

Other players considered for this award include San Marin’s Madison Papenhausen, Foothill’s Courtney Beaudin, and Concord’s Amber Desena.

NOTE: We would like to thank our media partners, coaches, parents, players and fans for contributing photos for our all-section features. We salute all of the players that have made this a wonderful season of NCS softball.