Softball standouts rely on each other to help keep Falcons on top of the pack

Xstaviana “Stavi” Augur and Cassie Kaelber are both impact players. The Torrey Pines softball standouts just make their impact in different ways.

Xstaviana, who’ll be a junior next season, is a slugging third baseman with off-the-charts aptitude. Cassie, who’ll also be a junior, is a slap-hitting speedster with a propensity for making sensational plays at shortstop.

Both athletes played a key role in maintaining the Falcons’ status as an upper-echelon program after heavy graduation losses each of the two previous seasons.

With just one senior in their starting lineup, the Falcons pushed eventual Open Division champion to the brink in the Palomar League title race last season. It wasn’t until the last day of the regular season that a loss to Poway eliminated Torrey Pines.

Xstaviana has already committed to Division I Coastal Carolina. Cassie is likely to commit to a Division I program too, said Torrey Pines coach Jonathan Moore.

Xstaviana and Cassie have been friends since they were 8, playing together on the same 8-and-under North Shore club team. They were also teammates on the North Shore’s 12-and-under team. That friendship has helped forge a comfort level on the left side of the infield, which both players say has helped them achieve success.

The return of both players portends a bright future for the Falcons.

“Those kids are the building blocks,” Moore said. “They’re both Division I college players, and both are and have been vital to our success.”

Both players played leadership roles behind recent graduate Shelbianne Evans, a third-team all-state selection, who last season was the team’s only senior everyday player.

Shelbianne was the program’s last link to its 2012 San Diego Section championship team, which featured pitching sensation Rachel Nasland (now at Notre Dame) and Emma Wong (now at Boston College), among others.

Xstaviana has already established herself as one of the most dangerous hitters in San Diego County. Last season she batted .434 (33 for 76) with 12 extra-base hits including five home runs. She’s already set the school’s career record for home runs with nine.

“Stavi is the most talented player I’ve ever had in 20 years,” Moore said. “She’s a special, special talent.”

And her softball talents are matched by her softball smarts, he said.

“She’ll read me signs and then right before the pitch; she’ll move, inside pitch to a righty and she’ll move over to the line,” Moore said.

“In two years she’s never missed a pitch.”

Xstaviana has impressed with her energy, too, Moore said, noting that she runs out ground balls and even the most routine of popups with gusto.

“Every time,” he said, “she’s 10 feet from second base in case they drop it.”

And Xstaviana isn’t shy about assuming a leadership role.

“She’s super-competitive, and she knows what she’s doing,” Kaelber said of her. “She’s really loud on the field, and she’s really smart.”

Cassie is the quieter of the two, preferring to lead by example. And whereas Xstaviana has made her mark with thunder in her bat, Cassie has done it with lightning on the base paths.

She led the team in stolen bases with 12 in 15 attempts. She was among the team’s leading hitters batting .395 (32 for 81).

“She’s super-fast and she’s a great defensive shortstop,” Moore said.” She makes highlight-reel plays all the time.”

Cassie served notice as a freshman, beating out an established starter from the Falcons 2012 San Diego Section championship team the previous year for the starting job.

“She has great range,” Xstaviana said of Cassie. “She’s just all-around clutch.”

Cassie acknowledged that keeping up Torrey Pines’ winning tradition brought with it some added pressure. But she said that it’s also a source of pride.

“We had really high expectations because we were really good before, but we just tried to keep everyone positive to try to keep it going,” she said.

Both players said their friendship has helped sustain them amid some of the pressures that came with leadership roles as sophomores in a program with high expectations.

“We just have a bond and a trust that will never be lost,” Cassie said.

Xstaviana believes that bond has made both of them better.

“I think we’ve really pushed each other over the last two years starting as freshmen and then last year,” she said. “I think it’s really helped on and off the field. Our friendship has gotten stronger.”

Not that they haven’t tested it. Both players say that their friendship has allowed them to criticize without worrying about hurt feelings.

“We can tell each other when we’re doing something wrong, and we know we won’t take offense,” Cassie said. “I trust that she’ll have my back and that she can pick me up.”