During a nine-month stretch when Laguna Beach High athletics attained unparalleled success in different avenues of competition, Haley Putnam and Drake Martinez have been selected to carry the banner for the 2012-13 school year.
Putnam was named the female recipient, and Martinez the male counterpart, of the school's Athlete of the Year honor. The two, both seniors who will graduate in two weeks, were honored, as well as several other Breakers, during the school's annual All Sports Booster Club banquet Tuesday at Tivoli Terrace in Laguna Beach.
In an assembled group that oozed with talent, from the playing fields and courts to the swimming pool, the award caught Putnam off guard.
"To tell you the truth, I had no idea that my name would be called," she said. "There truly were so many talented athletes in the room that night, and I never expected this. It's shocking, and I'm so honored to be given such a high honor."
Laguna Beach Female Athlete of the Year
Before she entered Laguna Beach High, Putnam recalled joining her future Laguna Beach softball teammates, and now fellow seniors, Kennedi Gherardini, Cory Kent and Katie Anderson, in handing out fliers to drum up interest in students to come out for the softball team.
The softball program had been put on hiatus before Putnam and her friends, still in the eighth grade, entered Laguna.
"There wasn't a softball team at Laguna and we were just hoping to get some girls to come out for the team," Putnam said. "It's hard to believe that that already was four years ago."
Since Putnam and her teammates arrived, the softball program reached the CIF Southern Section playoffs on three occasions and last month recorded the first CIF playoff win in school history.
"Haley Putnam has been the backbone of our softball program, Laguna Beach Athletic Director Mike Churchill said. "She has been the rallying point that our girls have migrated to during all of the hard and good times. We will greatly miss her."
During her four-year varsity softball career, Putnam worked as a starting pitcher. She was a team captain all four years, the teams' Most Valuable Player three years, the booster club's MVP three years (2009-2012), is an Orange County scholar athlete, and is an All-Orange Coast League and All-CIF Southern Section player.
Putnam was the Breakers' team leader this year with a .392 batting average, and led in hits (31), runs batted in (25), doubles (six), triples (four) and home runs (six).
She had an ERA of 2.69 and struck out 56.
"Haley's the all-around player every coach dreams about. She is a great leader, competitor and overall fantastic person," Laguna Beach first-year softball coach Victoria Batistelli said. "She served her team with more than her athletic ability, with a generous spirit of loyalty, striving to make her teammates better both on and off the field.
"She's extremely competitive, and her passion for the game and overall genuine and disciplined nature makes her accomplishment of obtaining female athlete of the year at Laguna Beach High School incredibly well deserved. I am incredibly proud of what Haley has accomplished this year on the field."
In August, Putnam will head to the University of Colorado at Boulder where she said she will study business.
"It's been an amazing four years here," she said. "But, it's been a lot of hard work, between academics and softball. I was very, very blessed to have been part of building such a great family and group of friends through softball. It's a great group of girls and I couldn't be more proud of what the team has done."