King City Mustangs softball player Lisa Villanueva had a great sophomore season, and was placed on the All-State second team for small schools. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

KING CITY — Following a great freshman season, expectations were sky high for King City Mustangs softball player Lisa Villanueva going into her sophomore year — and what a season she would have, winning league MVP and being recognized as a top player in the state of California.

As Villanueva entered high school as a freshman in 2020-21, things were up in the air about sports, as many were canceled due to Covid-19. Fortunately, King City High School was able to play some games at the end of the school year.

Although some schools opted out, there were still enough teams for season and postseason tournaments, making way for Villanueva to let the Pacific Coast Athletic League (PCAL) know she was going to be a tough competitor for years to come.

In Villanueva’s first year on varsity, she made her case as the top hitter in PCAL, leading the league in home runs (7) and RBIs (28) in 15 games.

That year she helped lead the Lady Mustangs to an 11-4 record and a second-round berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs. It was the team’s first playoff win in 20 years.

Villanueva only added to her hype during that playoff run as she hit two home runs with four RBIs against Carmel High in the CCS play-in game. Then, in a first-round match against Kings Academy, she hit a home run with three RBIs.

In her first three-game playoff games, she had three home runs and seven RBIs.

Because of her exceptional year, King City’s Lisa Villanueva was named the Cypress League’s Most Valuable Player and received many other awards county-wide. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

Villanueva’s play got her noticed, as she was invited to attend softball camps at UC Berkeley and UCLA.

Going into her sophomore year in 2021-22, many wondered how Villanueva would follow up such a great freshman season.

When it came to the team’s success this year, the Lady Mustangs were the co-champs of the Cypress Division and broke a record for most wins in a season this century (19), which earned them a first-round home game in the CCS playoffs.

Villanueva doubled her offense production from a year ago among the top players in the PCAL in every offense category, except steals. When it came to homeruns (14) and RBIs (55), she wore the crown once again, leading the entire league.

Because of Villanueva’s exceptional year, she was named the Cypress League’s Most Valuable Player and received many other awards county-wide.

Not only did Monterey County recognize Villanueva’s success, but many people also noticed her statewide as she was placed on the All-State second team for small schools.

“It means a lot,” Villanueva said. “All the hard work I’m putting in, it’s been amazing.”

With two years of eligibility left, Villanueva continues to improve, and it won’t be long before she decides where she will spend her four years after high school.

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Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


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