The Times’ softball player of the year: Kaniya Bragg of Garden Grove Pacifica

Shortstop Kaniya Bragg of Garden Grove Pacifica leaps into the air after making a play.

Shortstop Kaniya Bragg of Garden Grove Pacifica is The Times’ softball player of the year.
(Nick Koza)

Perhaps no one played a more pivotal role in her team’s success on the softball diamond this season than Kaniya Bragg of Garden Grove Pacifica, the top player for the Southern Section Division 1 champion.

The UCLA-bound senior was at her best in the final May 17 at Bill Barber Park against Orange Lutheran, drawing a key walk and scoring in the fourth inning, then launching a towering home run to provide an insurance run in the sixth inning in the Mariners’ 3-0 shutout, the team’s second consecutive championship.

Bragg has been selected The Times’ softball player of the year.

Bragg is eager to display her talents in Westwood and contend for national championships.

If anyone appreciates the quality of player the Bruins are getting, it’s Pacifica head coach Tony Arduino, who says Bragg is one of the best athletes he has had in his 17 years coaching high school sports.

“Three-sport athletes don’t come around very often and it’s been an absolute honor coaching Kaniya for the last four years,” Arduino said of his starting shortstop who also played on the volleyball team in the fall and basketball team in the winter. “She’s always trying to improve. She’s constantly asking for feedback on what she can do to fine-tune her game. Some athletes think they know it all, but that’s not Kaniya. She wants to get better every day.”

Bragg’s numbers back up her coach’s assessment. She played every game this season, pacing her squad with eight home runs, 30 runs scored, 27 RBIs and a .907 slugging percentage. She had 28 hits, seven doubles and struck out only six times in her 83 plate appearances.

Bragg had two homers and four RBIs in a 10-0 Empire League victory at La Palma Kennedy and had four hits (including a homer), five RBIs and three runs in Pacifica’s 13-2 playoff triumph over Oaks Christian. She finished her prep career with 22 homers, 116 RBIs and 122 runs.

“She can change a game with her bat, her glove and her ability to run the bases,” Arduino said. “Another thing that makes her special is she takes just as much pride in her defense as her offense. She’s won our defensive MVP award three times. All Kaniya really cares about is winning and she’s willing to put the team before her personal success. There’s simply no way we’re back-to-back CIF Division 1 champions without her leadership.”

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