The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The Peninsula has turned out its fair share of elite softball talent — from Maureen Brady and Tori Nyberg, to Megan Grant and Liv DiNardo.
But there are few better than the Donovan sisters out of Half Moon Bay, who capped their playing careers with more hardware and awards than almost all others combined.
Riley Donovan just wrapped up her playing time at Southern Oregon University and added a pile of awards for the family trophy case. This coming on the heels of older sister Harlee Donovan’s dominant career.
Both sisters, both catchers, followed the same path: multi-sport athletes at Half Moon Bay High School, stars for the College of San Mateo softball team and finishing their playing careers setting records and earning national honors at Southern Oregon University.
A 2018 graduate of Half Moon Bay High School, Riley Donovan was recently named the Cascade Conference Women’s Athlete of the Year after helping guide the Raiders to a 50-12 record and the 2023 NAIA World Series title, where they ran roughshod through the field. In four games, they outscored their opponents 35-2, including an 11-0 thrashing of rival Oregon Tech in the championship game.
Riley Donovan’s accomplishments are a smorgasbord of numbers. She leaves Southern Oregon with a career slash line of .473/.561/.894. In three seasons, 2021-2023, she set the school’s career home run record with 51 and set the single-season mark with 23 this spring and twice hit 20 or more homers in three seasons. In 186 games for the Raiders, she drove in 249 runs.
Riley Donovan won a pair of NAIA national championships while at Southern Oregon: in 2021 when she was named tournament MVP and again this past season. In 2022, she was named NAIA Player of the Year after leading the NAIA in home runs (23), RBIs (94) and slugging (.977).
Before her exploits with the Raiders, Riley Donovan was on the brink of a sensational career at CSM. Her freshman year in 2019, she batted .379 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 40 games. She got off to a phenomenal start in 2020. She batted .588 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs as the Bulldogs opened with a 27-game winning streak before the season was shut down by the COVID pandemic.
All of this comes on the heels of older sister Harlee Donovan’s outstanding performance at Southern Oregon. After a Nor Cal Player of the Year sophomore season at CSM, she, too, captured national player of the year honors, earning the title following the 2018 season.