Thanks to the schedule makers of the CIF North Coast Section and the CIF state office, it was indeed possible to see the Amador Valley softball team finish off a perfect season, then the College Park baseball team win a mythical state title and then two neighborhood rivals meet for the CIF NorCal D1 boys volleyball title.
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For a final State Top 20 in boys volleyball, CLICK HERE.
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In the annals of Cal-Hi Sports, it’s been tried before to cover three championship events in three different sports on the same day.
The first time came one year (1996) when the CIF state track meet was held at Cerritos College and it was a year when there were significant CIF Southern Section baseball title games played early on a Saturday at Anaheim Stadium. On that day, the so-called Cal-Hi Sports Caravan (which is what we normally call Harold Abend when he’s traipsing around Northern California) hit a CIF Southern Section baseball final in the morning, went to the CIF state meet in the afternoon and finished it off with a CIF Southern Section Division I softball championship on Saturday night.
On Saturday in the East Bay, such a situation presented itself once again and since none of the events ran long (always possible with softball and baseball games) it was completed with stops at the CIF North Coast Section Division I softball final at St. Mary’s College, followed by the NCS Division II baseball championship at Diablo Valley College and finally the CIF Northern California Division I boys volleyball title match inside the Dublin High gym.
AMADOR VALLEY GIRLS TOP GRANADA
The day began along the winding roads of Moraga to see if the Amador Valley of Pleasanton softball team could finish off a perfect season in the NCS D1 championship against league rival Granada of Livermore.
While the Dons entered as heavy favorites, there was one game among two played previously against Granada that was a 3-1 triumph.
Amador softball also means a heavy dose of Johanna Grauer. Comparing her to some other recent Ms. Softball Player of the Year candidates like Aly Carda of Pleasant Grove (currently at UCLA where Grauer is headed next) and Amanda Williams from Freedom of Oakley is easy. Grauer, in fact, may be better as a high school pitcher.
Grauer was dominant in stretches against Granada and she helped herself during a two-run rally in the bottom of the first with a double. That lead held up for a 2-1 win. Both Grauer and teammate Victoria Molina had two hits.
The Dons ended 27-0 and will be No. 1 in at least one national poll but will finish No. 2 in our state rankings and at No. 2 in the FAB 50 national rankings behind Mission Viejo. Basically, we just weren’t going to drop the Diablos two weeks ago for losing one game in their regular season finale to probably the third best team in the state (Pacifica of Garden Grove) after posting two earlier wins over that same squad.
Still, it’s hard to argue that Amador Valley isn’t just as deserving of a mythical national title and we’re glad its team will get to claim it as well.
“We know that anything can happen in any game,” said Amador Valley head coach Teresa Borchard. “We had some tight games, but it was how mentally tough these girls are that was the difference. Across the board, this team has the best mental game out of any that I’ve ever coached.”
Even though Granada lost, the highlight of the game (and the day really) was when Matadors’ junior catcher Taylor Zehr banged her head on a batter’s box inside the dugout before the sixth inning, caused the game to be delayed while she received attention, went through the protocols for a concussion and then went up to the plate and crushed a home run off Grauer for her team’s only run.
Grauer struck out the next three Granada batters in the sixth, then in the top of the seventh gave up a leadoff single. A diving catch by Malory Masajlo on a bunt attempt resulted in one out and the game ended when Alyssa Gonzalez hit a pop up that Grauer caught herself.
“It’s an amazing feeling to come out on top,” Grauer said. “After what happened in our sophomore and junior year (Amador lost to Logan of Union City on the same field in 2012 and Grauer couldn’t pitch in last year’s semifinals after suffering an ankle injury), it lit a fire under us. This year, we just weren’t going to lose.”
DEMERS, OAR HELP COLLEGE PARK ROAR
After the softball game ended, it wasn’t going to be possible to see the early innings of the NCS D2 baseball final between College Park of Pleasant Hill and Marin Catholic of Kentfield.
That could have happened if that game was at the nearby St. Mary’s baseball diamond where the NCS D1 championship was going to start. Instead, it was at Diablo Valley College (next door to College Park) so time had to be accounted for to drive, park and find the DVC diamond.
College Park already had taken a 5-1 lead by the top of the third inning. A three-run homer by Nick Oar gave the Falcons the early lead and it ended up being all they’d need with ace Joe DeMers on the mound. He finished with a five-hitter and he also ripped a two-run homer in the fifth as College Park cruised to a 7-2 triumph.
In last year’s NCS playoffs, the Falcons had high hopes only to see them dashed in an epic 12-10 extra-inning loss in the semifinals to Casa Grande of Petaluma.
“We had a big chip on our shoulder all year because of that game,” said DeMers, a multi-sport star (he’s played in a CIF basketball state final) who has committed to play baseball at the University of Washington. “It feels great to finally come out on top.”
College Park capped a 27-3 season, won its 13th straight game and is expected to finish No. 1 in the final Division II state rankings as well as No. 1 in the final Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area Top 20 rankings.
Both Oar and DeMers and others on the Falcons’ roster are still juniors and they already know their team will be highly-touted to start the 2015 season.
“It feels great to be in this situation, but next year we’re just going to have to work hard every day,” said Oar, who has committed to Stanford. “Yeah, we’ll be confident but we won’t take anything for granted.”
BATTLE FOR MOUNTAIN VIEW
We don’t include much boys volleyball on this web site, but we do serve as primary rankings compilers for the FAB 50 national rankings for Student Sports. Since the last match in Dublin clearly was reachable from DVC on the way back to Stockton, it made sense to add it to the itinerary.
Other than the Amador Valley softball team, the highest-ranked teams in a FAB 50 national ranking to be in action on Saturday in the Bay Area were at the CIF NorCal Division I and Division II regional finals.It wasn’t possible to see the 5 p.m. Division II match between Campolindo of Moraga (No. 9 in the nation) and Whitney of Rocklin due to the drive from DVC, but the Division I match figured to be a classic since Mountain View and St. Francis of Mountain View staged a five-game thriller in the CIF Central Coast Section final.
The Spartans, ranked No. 10 in last week’s FAB 50, and the Lancers, ranked No. 21, looked like they were on the way for a similar finish on Saturday as well. In the fourth game, however, St. Francis seemed to lose some confidence after falling behind early and Mountain View went on from there to post a 25-23, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16 triumph.
Mountain View edged out to a 24-21 lead in the first game and held on when a Lancers’ serve went out of bounds. In the second game, St. Francis junior Alexander Jiminez came through for a play at the net when the score was 25-24 to give his team the 26-24 win.
The third game was when the match turned. St. Francis led for most of it, but the Spartans won the last three of the last four points. A kill by Jake Stuebner made it 24-22, then Ryan McLaughlin came up big with a kill for a 25-23 triumph.
In the fourth game, St. Francis fell behind 4-0 and eventually trailed by 7-1 and 10-3. Just like that, a match many thought would go the distance was over.
“We just wanted to get out to a quick start in the fourth game,” said Mountain View head coach M. Anthony Chen. “We executed very well on those early points and played with good control.”
It was the second year of the NorCal regional playoffs and St. Francis was hoping to follow league rival Archbishop Mitty as the NorCal D1 champions. Campolindo, meanwhile, repeated as the D2 winner with a 3-0 win over Whitney.
A CIF state final may only be a few years away and Chen would love to see it happen.
“It’s been great that the CIF has had this Northern California championship,” he said. “To bring the two together would be perfect.”
A CIF state playoff or state tourney in softball also may be in the works, but baseball may be impossible with the pitching restrictions and length of the season already.
All in all, speculating about future CIF state championships was a great way to end a great day.