In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Ed Tunstall from Esperanza of Anaheim, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2021 season going to Obie Galindo from Sultana of Hesperia (medium schools) & Stefanie Danna of Sutter (small schools).
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STATE COACH OF THE YEAR
Obie Galindo (Sultana, Hesperia)
Prior to Galindo’s arrival as the head softball coach at Sultana, the Sultans suffered through an 0-24 season in 2013. They won 10 games in Galindo’s first season and now in 2021 he is a state coach of the year after his team went 21-2 and captured the CIF Southern Section Division III title as well as the CIF SoCal D2 regional championship.
The best information we found on Coach Galindo was in a 2008 article about him by the Victor Valley Daily Press in which he was nominated to be the publication’s Person of the Year. He was coaching softball, football and serving as athletic director at the time at Victor Valley Christian. He talked about learning to get better for his players every day and how he grew up as the youngest child in a family of 12 children.
At Sultana, Galindo’s teams have been solid (including 21-9 in 2016 and 17-8 in 2019), but nothing as spectacular as this season. The Sultans battled through a tough part of the CIFSS D3 bracket (including top seed Whittier Christian) and then won the title with a 7-4 triumph over Redondo Union of Redondo Beach. Sultana then had a bye in the first round of the CIF regional playoffs and then in the final won it with an 8-4 victory against Oxnard.
We’re sure Galindo would want to give all the credit the players. The leaders included senior pitcher Zada Day-Adams plus senior hitters Kamile Badiganga (7 HRs, 27 RBI) ad Addison Aguinaga (.516, 33 hits).
Looking back through the State Coach of the Year to 1974 and to the medium and small schools coaches of the year since 1998, Obie is the first-ever honoree from the High Desert region of Southern California.
Recent State Medium Schools Coaches of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Ed Medina (Santa Ana Godinez); 2018 – Kristin Grubbs (Benicia); 2017 – J.J. Vaivao (Ventura Buena); 2016 – Bobby Flores (Grand Terrace); 2015 – Brian Goulart (Manteca East Union); 2014 – Jim Maier (Santa Fe Springs St. Paul); 2013 – Linda Merrida (Woodland Pioneer); 2012 – Randy Willis (Novato San Marin); 2011 – Jerry Dumatrait (Bakersfield Ridgeview); 2010 – Michael Roberts (San Diego University City); 2009 – Howard Miller (Torrance North).
STATE COACH OF THE YEAR
Stefanie Danna (Sutter)
Three years ago, after her team completed a 27-1 record by winning a CIF Northern Section title, Danna was considered for this honor, but in our usual method of evaluations that was considered too soon in her coaching career since it was only in her third season. After what she and the Huskies did this spring, there can’t be any more waiting.
Danna is now done with six seasons at Sutter (where she played herself and batted .604 as a senior in 2006) and the numbers are getting to be insane. This year’s club racked up a 24-0 record and was considered the top team in the Northern Section (which had no playoffs) based on wins over Pleasant Valley of Chico, East Nicolaus and Elk Grove (a large school from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section). Combined with 10 wins (against no losses) from the pandemic-scrapped 2020 season plus eight straight wins to close the 2019 season, Sutter is taking a 42-game win streak into the 2022 season. That’s two off of the school record of 44 set from 2008 to 2010, but both of those win streaks are in the top nine on the all-time state list. With three more wins to start 2022, Sutter would move from No. 9 to No. 7 on that list.
For her six seasons, Danna has compiled a record of 132-19-1. The Huskies also still have a streak of three straight section titles, even though there hasn’t been section playoffs in the Northern Section for the past two years.
The odds of Danna and the program continuing to win are high. The two leading players from this season — pitcher/hitter Riley Wickum (.570, 18-0) and slugger Ella Jolley (.521, 38 RBI) — were both juniors. The team’s top graduating senior was Meadow Topete (.500). Two other leading players were junior Avery Holley (.459) and freshman Morgan Heggstrom (.472).
Sutter has already had one State Small Schools Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 school year since Ryan Reynolds was the honoree two months ago in football. The Huskies also had the winner for small schools in softball in 2010 in Raoul Singh. He was the coach when the team went 69-2 in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009 and had future NCAA All-American Jessica Moore in the circle. The wins kept coming after Moore graduated so that was the year Singh was honored.
Danna also follows Neil Stinson of East Nicolaus (2018) and Mike Greer of Biggs (2002) as state small schools coaches of the year from the Northern Section.
Recent State Small Schools Coaches of the Year: 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Robert Vernon (Ripon); 2018 – Neil Stinson (East Nicolaus); 2017 – Flo Galindo (Sun Valley Village Christian); 2016 – Tony Williams (Mariposa County, Mariposa); 2015 – Margaret Neill (Lancaster Paraclete); 2014 – Russell Emberson (Taft); 2013 – Melissa Bugarin-Espinoza (San Pedro Port of Los Angeles); 2012 – Jim Pingree (Monterey Santa Catalina); 2011 – Mike Pontius (Lodi Elliot Christian); 2010 – Raoul Singh (Sutter); 2009 – Alan Borges (Eureka St. Bernard’s).