The race for softball player of the year was too close to call. The cameras they use at the end of the Kentucky Derby to determine the winner wouldn't have helped here.

On one hand, there's Mattie Fowler. The Canyon del Oro senior standout, who is headed to Nebraska next season, hit .569 with 17 home runs, 22 doubles and 91 RBIs.

She was also one of three CDO pitchers, compiling a 14-0 record with seven saves. She had a 0.85 ERA and 74 strikeouts, leading the Dorados to the 4A-I state title.

With those numbers and CDO's state championship, she seemed like a lock for player of the year.

Then there's Yvette Alvarez. She starred at Sahuarita and lifted the Mustangs to the 4A-II crown.

Like Fowler, Alvarez was also a big slugger, with 19 home runs. She added 81 RBIs and batted .483 for the state champs.

But Alvarez's real value was in the circle.

The Pima Community College commit struck out 305 hitters in 191 1/3 innings. She went 30-4 (the team went 32-4) and compiled a staggering 0.66 ERA.

Fowler and Alvarez both deserve to be honored today.

They both led their teams to state championships. They both performed well in the biggest games. They were excellent in the circle, in the batter's box and in the dugout as team leaders.

Alvarez and Fowler are both players of the year.

It was a similar competition in baseball, but I was able to get down to one player.

Like Alvarez and Fowler, Catalina's Robby Pearson led his team to a state championship. He hit .542 with seven home runs and 38 RBIs.

He was also a star on the mound, picking up six wins with a 2.11 ERA.

He earned two complete- game wins in the 4A-II state tournament and struck out the final six batters he faced in the Trojans' semifinal win over powerhouse Phoenix Greenway.

Is Pearson the top college or pro prospect in Southern Arizona? No. That's Salpointe Catholic's Joe Serrano, who almost certainly will be selected in this week's Major League Baseball amateur draft.

The Arkansas-bound slugger set a Southern Arizona record with 69 RBIs and hit .541 with 11 homers.

He also played every inning at shortstop for the Lancers, who went 1-2 in the 5A-I state tournament.

But Pearson's value to his team was unmatched. He pitched, hit and fielded his team to its first state championship since 1967.

This season, he was the best player around.