St. Francis of Mountain View could have been No. 2 for the final evaluations of State Team of the Year candidates in softball this season, but the Lancers already were No. 1 entering the final week and did a great job in winning the CIF Northern California Division I title. They are just the second team ever from the CIF Central Coast Section to earn State Team of the Year honors in softball and already were being compared to that other one from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose for 2009.
For more on all five of our State Teams of the Year (by divisions) in softball,
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There already were comparisons for the St. Francis of Mountain View softball team last year to the legendary, unbeaten 32-0 squad from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose for 2009 that was not only No. 1 in the state but No. 1 in the nation. That’s because St. Francis of 2021 went 26-0 in winning the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title.
While last year’s team of Lancers didn’t play any opponents from outside of its section and did not have anything else to play for due to COVID, this year’s team sure did and last Saturday captured the first-ever CIF Northern California D1 regional title with a 6-0 win over CIF Central Section champion Clovis. Top teams from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF North Coast Section also were in the field.
Due to that increased level of competition plus other factors, this year’s St. Francis team now joins that 2009 Mitty squad in another comparison. That’s because the Lancers have now been selected as the 2022 State Team of the Year. There have been no other teams from the CCS that have been State Team of the Year.
With many top-level returnees coming back from last year, St. Francis head coach Mike Oakland also ramped up the schedule with trips to the Michelle Carew Classic in Southern California and to the Livermore Stampede. The Lancers didn’t win out in either event, but lost in one-run games to Canyon of Anaheim (with an Arizona State-bound pitcher) and to Sheldon of Sacramento. There also were wins at the Carew over traditional SoCal powerhouse programs Los Alamitos and Norco.
The difficulty over the final State Team of the Year choice is that Oaks Christian of Westlake Village was able to come back from a 4-0 loss to Los Alamitos in the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinals and won last Saturday, 6-5, over CIFSS D1 champ Roosevelt of Eastvale in the CIF SoCal D1 final. The Lions also ended with a 34-1 record compared to St. Francis at 31-2.
When Los Al handed Oaks Christian its loss, however, it was not known how the SoCal regionals would play out in terms of teams opting out (like Los Al did) or top players not participating due to travel ball commitments. Plus, at the time, Roosevelt had to be higher in the rankings than any other CIFSS team. St. Francis was higher than Roosevelt and was moved up to No. 1 instead of Roosevelt being hopped over the Lancers. Sure, it was possible that Oaks Christian would be playing on and then would have the opportunity of winning the SoCal title. But St. Francis also was looked at as having the possibility of perhaps avenging one of its losses (which it did) and winning the NorCal title. Having that win over Los Alamitos also clearly helped since that was the team that beat Oaks Christian in the CIFSS playoffs. Having a team that was 26-0 from 2021 also couldn’t be ignored.
When there is a No. 1 team in the state entering the final week, dropping a team to No. 2 after it wins in its last game also is just not something that is ever done in any rankings system or by any person that knows what they’re doing.
In addition, St. Francis did nothing in its last three games last week to show any cracks or give any reason for a different outcome. The Lancers rolled over St. Francis of Sacramento, 8-2, in the NorCal quarterfinal, blanked Sheldon, 4-0, in the semifinal and won in a shutout again, 6-0, over Clovis in the championship. That kind of pitching in the final games showed that St. Francis may just have had the state’s best combination of a loaded hitting lineup with a deep, versatile staff of pitchers.
The St. Francis lineup is led by Minnesota-bound Jessica Oakland (the coach’s daughter) and Washington-bound Sydney Stewart. Oakland had a two-run double in the final and both Oakland and Stewart homered in the win over Sheldon. In the final, though, the team’s depth offensively stood out as No. 9 hitter Claire Turner had three hits and No. 8 hitter Ella Milante homered. Sophomore Kate Munnerlyn pitched a four-hitter against Sheldon, but came out of the game in the third vs Clovis as fellow sophomore Shannon Keighran and junior Chloe Cummings finished it up.
“These girls took it to another level,” Oakland told Cal-Hi Sports associate editor and Prep2Prep writer Harold Abend after the last game. “They’re at a point right now where I don’t know if we’ll ever be as good as we are now.”
ALL-TIME CAL-HI SPORTS
SOFTBALL STATE TEAMS OF THE YEAR
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2022 – Mountain View St. Francis (31-2)
2021 – Anaheim Esperanza (22-2)*
2020 – No Selection
2019 – Norco (31-1)
2018 – San Marcos (28-2)
2017 – Los Alamitos (27-3)
2016 – Mission Viejo (27-4)
2015 – Yucaipa (31-3)
2014 – Mission Viejo (26-1)
2013 – Corona Santiago (31-5)
2012 – Norco (31-2)
2011 – Corona Santiago (28-5)
2010 – Chino Hills Ayala (29-5)
2009 – San Jose Archbishop Mitty (32-0)
2008 – Sacramento Sheldon (32-2)
2007 – Valencia (32-1)
2006 – Oakley Freedom (25-0)
2005 – Simi Valley Royal (29-2)
2004 – Garden Grove Pacifica (31-2)
2003 – Garden Grove Pacifica (31-2)
2002 – San Diego Mira Mesa (31-1)
2001 – Fresno Bullard (36-1)
2000 – Tustin Foothill (33-2)
1999 – Fresno Bullard (38-1-1)
1998 – Clovis Buchanan (35-2)
1997 – Garden Grove Pacifica (31-1-1)
1996 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (30-1)
1995 – Huntington Beach Marina (24-5)
1994 – Clovis (31-3) (plus 2 wins by default)
1993 – Covina Charter Oak (29-0-1)
1992 – Stockton Lincoln (35-3)
1991 – Stockton Lincoln (29-3)
1990 – Roseville (37-2)
1989 – Lakewood St. Joseph (26-1)
1988 – Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (21-6)
1987 – Stockton Lincoln (30-0)
1986 – Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1985 – Huntington Beach Ocean View (32-0)
1984 – Stockton Lincoln (37-1)
1983 – Lodi (27-2)
1982 – San Diego Madison (20-0)
1981 – Santa Maria Righetti (25-1)
1980 – Santa Maria Righetti (29-0)
1979 – Santa Rosa Montgomery (26-1)
1978 – Fairfield Armijo (23-0)
1977 – Huntington Beach Marina (17-0)
1976 – Chula Vista Hilltop (17-0)
1975 – Downey Warren (18-1)
1974 – El Segundo (undefeated)
*Forfeit loss not included.