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Shortstop is catalyst for offense, defense

04/25/2013, 12:01am PDT
By KEVIN J. FARMER SPECIAL TO THE U-T

Hannah Flippen of top-ranked Bonita Vista is a leader on the field and at the plate.


Bonita Vista's Hannah Flippen, right, is congratulated after grabbing a line drive to end an inning in a game against Eastlake.

— You would be hard pressed to find a more valuable softball player than Hannah Flippen of top-ranked Bonita Vista.

“Hannah is an amazing player and athlete,” said Barons head coach John Carlson of his senior shortstop and captain.

Flippen proved her value earlier this month at the Falcon Fiesta Tournament.

Despite returning just five starters from last year’s Division II Champions, the young Barons downed second-ranked Rancho Bernardo, 8-3, in the semifinal and host Torrey Pines, 10-1, in the final. Flippen earned MVP honors, going 3-for-5 with a triple and three runs scored against the defending Division I champions in the finals.

“She has to be a leader, she’s surrounded by freshmen,” Carlson said. “We’re senior starved. She always has been a leader by example, but I needed her to be more vocal. Now we may have created a little drill sergeant out there.”

“I feel a little pressure,” Flippen said. “There are so many new players and everyone knows it. (Opponents) are not going easy on us.”

Flippen is both the catalyst of the offense and anchor of the defense.

From her leadoff spot, she seems to always be on base — and on the run.

Coming into this week’s action, she’s batting .508 with an on-base percentage of .562. She has scored 22 runs and driven in 18 more. She has only been caught once in 13 stolen base attempts.

“She probably should be a No. 3 hitter,” Carlson admitted. “She’s got some pop in her bat with gap power. I just can’t bring myself not to have her at the top of the lineup; I’m spoiled.”

Proof of that are her seven doubles, three triples and four home runs already this season.

“I personally believe I’m having my best year so far,” said the four-year varsity starter with a 3.78 grade-point average. “I hope it can continue.”

Part of her great success is she already has her future set. She’s accepted a full ride to play Pac-12 softball next year at the University of Utah.

“Since I was nine my goal was to play college softball, and now I know I did it,” said Flippen, who also played basketball and volleyball at Bonita. “It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders.”

Flippen also has had success on the club level. She was the starting shortstop of the 16-and-under national championship team, Team Mizuno from Orange County.

She won’t be the first member of her family to play college ball in Utah. Her mother, Mary Lou, is in the Athletic Hall of Fame at Utah State after leading the Aggies to back-to-back National Championships in 1980 and 1981.

Mary Lou’s statistics dominate the Utah State record book. She had a career ERA of 0.70 with 78 victories including 44 shutouts. She was a first-team All-American and named the Most Outstanding Pitcher in the Nation in 1980. She was the Most Valuable Player in the World Series after beating Indiana 1-0 in the final that same year.

Mary Lou was a member of the USA National Team that won the Gold Medal at the 1990 World Championships.

“I’ve got two amazing parents who I’ve received an equal amount of talent from,” said Hannah, whose father John played both football and baseball.

“(Hannah) could have pitched, but she is such a value with everything else she does,” said Mary Lou, who assists at both Bonita Vista and Mesa College. “She’s so strong on defense and I think it’s what she does best — as well as running the bases.”

There’s that value thing again.

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