Softball: Holy Family’s Izzy Arroyo tabbed as player of the year

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Colorado high school softball wasn’t ready for the destruction Izzy Arroyo was about to unleash on it at the start of the fall season. Her talent level and composure in the circle and in the batter’s box were nearly unmatched all season long, especially among her fellow freshmen.

That dominance helped lead her Holy Family team to its second consecutive Class 4A state championship last month, a goal she was pivotal in helping them achieve. After all, she pitched all four of the Tigers’ state tournament games.

A task that tall may have been daunting for another pitcher so young, but Arroyo was lucky to have such an experienced, solid team behind her.

“It was very stressful but just having my teammates talk to me and having the stress relief is great,” Arroyo said after being named’s player of the year for 2021. “I was kind of going through the motions, just having that mindset like, ‘I’m going to strike out this girl. I’m just going to hit a line drive.’”

Through those four starts in two days, she struck out 21 total batters, gave up seven earned runs and walked just three. But that was just a glimpse of what she was able to accomplish throughout the season, as she boasted a perfect 18-0 and an impressive 1.81 ERA to back it up. She walked just 25 batters, allowed just 29 earned runs and struck out 136.

What other freshman can pull that off in a classification as competitive as 4A? Head coach Moriah Nguyen knew she would be up for the challenge.

“In being only a 14-year-old pitcher, Izzy rose up to the challenge of the state tournament and everything leading up to it,” Nguyen said. “The end of the season, in general, tested her physically and mentally in the circle, but with the help of coaches and the leadership of Abby Edwards who has been in similar shoes, she responded well and played as if she were a senior on that field herself.”

Her opponents took notice as, systematically, she knocked them out one by one. That, she said, boosted her confidence as the season wore on.

Said Arroyo: “A lot of teams were like, ‘Oh, it’s that freshman pitcher.’ … I know this one girl, Geneva German, from Palmer Ridge High School. She said some really nice things about me, saying how I really challenged her during her junior year as a pitcher, because she was a hitter. Knowing that upperclassmen are talking about me, wow, that’s amazing.”

She didn’t stop in the circle, either.

On a roster of hitting giants, Arroyo stood out with a team-high batting average of .523 that included four home runs, 20 RBIs and 34 hits. No matter where she stepped onto the field, she struck fear into the hearts of her opponents. She wants to improve upon those numbers even more, and she plans to do so by hitting the weight room more often and making sure she’s always getting in her reps on the diamond, “even if it’s 30 degrees outside.”

If her freshman year was just a sample of what lies ahead over the next three years, the other Colorado softball teams better watch out. She’s coming for them.

“Izzy is unlike many freshman pitchers I’ve seen,” Nguyen said. “She has not only the physical capabilities of a much more mature pitcher but the mental capabilities as well. She has overcome and dominated as a player at such a young age. She’s going to do even greater things in her time here.”