South metro players of the year: Pair nab softball honors

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Ally Power has the type of mental approach that helps make her one of the state's top softball pitchers.

Rachel Johnson finally started feeling comfortable at the plate and showed this season what many people expected from her.

Power, a junior at Ponderosa, has been tabbed as Colorado Community Media's South Metro Pitcher of the year.

Johnson, a senior first baseman at Mountain Vista, was selected as the South Metro Softball Player of the Year.

Power pitched the Mustangs into the Class 4A state semifinals. She won 16 games with seven shutout performances and collected one save.

Ponderosa coach Toby Tabola raves about Power's mental approach and team-first attitude as much as her ability to strike out batters.

Tabola points out that his headline pitcher always seems to focus on the next batter, despite maybe having given up a key hit or having a fielding miscue allow a runner to reach base on the previous at-bat.

“The mental thing is all about not letting things get to you,” said Power. “You just have to not think too much and do what you do.”

Power yielded 17 earned runs in 152 innings pitched during the recently concluded season and compiled a 0.78 earned run average. She struck out 177 batters, and opposing batters managed only a .128 batting average against her.

She also hit .442 with 19 runs batted in and four home runs.

“I try to improve every year, and this year I did improve with everything, especially batting and pitching,” admitted Power.

In two seasons, Power has fanned 385 batters in 305 innings pitched. Her fastball, which she throws between 65 and 67 mph, and her rise are two of her best pitches.

“I just practice a lot,” said Power. “This was one of the best seasons Ponderosa girls have had. We went pretty far and bonded well as a team. I was happy with the results.”

Johnson worked with a hitting coach last summer and stepped up big-time at the plate with excellent results.

“I did pretty well,” she claimed. ”It was definitely my best year by far. I had a lot of good coaching and that was a big part of it”

Johnson hit .463 with eight home runs, 34 RBIs and a .981 slugging percentage.

“I felt a lot more comfortable at the plate because people were telling me I had what it takes,” added Johnson. “People had always told me I was a good hitter but I didn't put it together.

“I just approached it as another season. It was my senior year and I wanted to do what I could to help my team, so I guess in that sense it was a different approach. I just went into the season saying this is my last year and I want to go out with a bang, and I guess I did that.”