Friday night’s stunning 1-0 loss by Mission Viejo to Yucaipa prevented a 31-0 season and will allow the Thunderbirds and not the Diablos to end No. 1 in the state. Still, we thought we’d get started on a project to compile all-time rankings of the greatest softball teams in California history.
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If the Mission Viejo softball team had been able to complete its dream season with a CIF Southern Section Division II title instead of a loss to Yucaipa, the debate about the Diablos and their place among the greatest teams in state history would have begun.
It was still a phenomenal two-year run for the team — 55-2 with a CIFSS title last year — but to be on any all-time list requires that team to have won its last game. The Diablos of 2014 therefore will have to carry the flag.
Based on criteria such as win-loss record, being a Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year, being considered a mythical national champion (FAB 50), strength of competition, beating a historically significant opponent and possessing a legendary player, here’s a quick list of teams that probably would be among California’s all-time greatest in softball:
(Note: This list isn’t final; if people want to comment; please do below; this is meant as a starting point)
1. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 32-0 in 2009
Team that was led by NCAA player of the year Keilani Ricketts also beat Sheldon of Sacramento (led by Jolene Henderson) in the Livermore Stampede.
2. St. Joseph (Lakewood) 26-1 in 1989
The greatest player in the history of softball so far – Lisa Fernandez – pitched this team to No. 1 state ranking.
3. Ocean View (Huntington Beach) 32-0 in 1985
This was the first great softball team in the state to win the top division of the CIFSS and finish with a perfect record. Pitcher Jackie Oakley had a 31-0 record herself.
4. Valencia 32-1 in 2007
The Vikings were led by Ms. Softball POY Jordan Taylor, won the CIFSS D1 title and beat strong competition throughout the season with just the one loss.
5. Lincoln (Stockton) 30-0 in 1987
For the 1980s and into the early 1990s, this was an absolutely legendary program. The Trojans’ 1987 squad represents the best of the best with a perfect record.
6. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 30-1 in 1996
Kelsey Kollen of the Monarchs had 241 career hits and they had a dominant ace in Marissa Young.
7. Mission Viejo 25-1 in 2014
This is where we like putting the Diablos on this list as of now. They also benefit in all-time greatest criteria for what they did this year and last. If they had been in the CIF Southern Section’s top division (D1) and not D2, there also would be more strength for an argument to be higher. But D1 in the CIFSS is definitely more of a minefield of top teams than D2 and although D2 is legit it’s not the same as D1.
8. Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 26-0 in 2014
Yes, we ranked Mission Viejo last year higher but this team was right there too. The Dons were led by Ms. Softball Johanna Grauer (UCLA) and beat top teams in SoCal at Carew Classic.
9. Bullard (Fresno) 36-1 in 2001
The Knights also were No. 1 in the state at 38-1-1 in 1999, but in 2001 had State POY Marissa Marzan.
10. Pacifica (Garden Grove) 31-1-1 in 1997
We just had to include this team on the list because current Mission Viejo coach Toni Mascarenas was on this team. This also was a Pacifica team with future All-American Amanda Freed pitching (she was a junior at the time).
Others: Foothill (Tustin) 33-2 in 2000; Norco 31-2 in 2012; Pacifica (Garden Grove) 31-2 in 2004; Righetti (Santa Maria) 29-0 in 1980; Yucaipa 31-3 in 2015.