Los Al Captures Carew Classic

Players and coaches from Los Alamitos are shown after they just won championship of the top division at the 2023 Michelle Carew Classic. Photo: Harold Abend.

Griffins get clutch pitching from Berkley Vance and big home run by Taryn Clements as they win the toughest softball tournament of the season in Southern California with a 4-2 win on Saturday in the final over state No. 1 St. Francis of Mountain View. Top pitching outings also were turned in from Orange Lutheran and Huntington Beach.

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While the 2023 Michelle Carew Classic may have been the last for tourney director Lance Eddy before turning the reins over to J.R. Bennett, who has assisted him for several years, this year’s Michelle Carew Classic softball tourney was not short on excitement and outstanding performances.

The tourney ended on Saturday night with incoming state No. 1 St. Francis of Mountain View falling short in the championship game to Los Alamitos, 4-2.

With the tipping of his cap, Eddy bid farewell to the event he has nurtured 36 times, 12 years as the Canyon High Invitational and the past 22 as the Michelle Carew Classic, in memory of the late daughter MLB Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who died shortly after playing softball for Canyon and graduating from the school.

It was not as easy final year for Eddy for several reasons.

First off, rain forced cancellation of action on Wednesday and Thursday and that meant Eddy had to change the format and create two divisions, Sweet Sixteen Gold and Fab Fifteen Diamond. Two games were played on Friday and two on Saturday, including the semifinals and finals. The Sweet Sixteen Gold was played at Peralta Park in Anaheim, and the Fab Fifteen Silver was contested at Yorba Linda High with some games including the semifinals and championship at Peralta.

Zoe Prystajko had a rare shutout — and struck out 17 batters — to lead Huntington Beach in a win against Norco. Photo: Harold Abend / Cal-Hi Sports.

Nine teams in the Cal-Hi Sports State TOP 25 rankings as of March 21 graced the Sweet 16 Gold Division and two were in the Fab Fifteen Silver.

The championship game match-up between top-ranked St. Francis (Mountain View) and No. 6 Los Alamitos was a classic example of solid pitching facing top level hitting, and a couple of timely hits turned the tide in favor of the Griffins in a 4-2 Los Alamitos victory.

The game was in fact a re-match from a game in last year’s Carew Classic that was won 4-3 by St. Francis.

After a quiet first inning, the action picked up in the second.

Santa Clara-committed senior catcher Taryn Clements, who blasted a grand slam on Friday for all the Griffins’ runs in a 4-2 victory over No. 8 ranked Lutheran of Orange, led off the top of the second with a single. Her courtesy runner Alivia Magallanes went to second on a single by Ella Terrones. Bella Rodriguez followed with a single to load the bases. Camryn Johnson then hit a grounder to second but an errant throw allowed her to reach and Magallanes scored on the play for the game’s first run. Kalie Matsuno followed with a grounder to third scoring Rodriguez and Los Alamitos had a 2-0 lead.

St. Francis answered right back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score. Junior Shannon Keighran, who pitched a no-hitter in a semifinal 1-0 victory over No. 7 Marina of Huntington Beach, led off with a single. Northwestern-bound senior Hannah Cushing doubled putting runners on second and third. Senior Chloe Cummings walked to load the bases. Senior Rebecca Quinn then reached on an error but drove in Keighran. St. Francis got its second and final run on a walk to San Jose State-bound senior Carly Cummings, but the Lancers would leave the bases loaded and their inability to put a big inning together ended up being their undoing.

Los Alamitos (12-2) got the timeliest hit of the entire tournament when Clements launched a solo home run to lead off the top of the fourth. The Griffins would add a final tally in the fifth inning on a grounder to short by Giselle Alvarez that drove in Matsuno.

St. Francis (8-1) mounted a final threat in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Keighran and a double by Chloe Cummings, but Los Alamitos Seattle University-bound senior pitcher Berkley Vance got a strikeout to end the inning.

From there, Vance retired six of the final seven batters to close out the victory. Her final line was two runs on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts, but despite the large number of base runners, Vance got the outs when she needed to.

“The kids played really well all tournament, and we did get some timely hits in some crucial situations,” said Los Alamitos head coach Rob Weil, whose girls have two losses to Norco this season but now have a major tourney title to go along with finishing second at the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona. “Taryn Clements came up huge with that home run.

“It’s all about timing in a tournament like this,” Weil continued. “And our pitching held up well, all four pitchers, but Berkley Vance really stood out, and the thing I’m most proud of for her is last year she had an ACL injury and was off all year so she’s just coming into pitching form and pitching shape.”

With Keighran going in the semifinals and throwing a no hitter (one walk, one hit batter, seven strikeouts), Lancers’ head coach Mike Oakland went with his other ace, junior Kate Munnerlyn. She pitched well and gave up three earned runs, seven hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

Vance was named the Most Valuable Player/Pitcher of the Sweet Sixteen Gold Division. Clements, Rodriguez and Gabby Terrones were named all tournament.

The all tournament selections for St. Francis were Keighran, Munnerlyn and Carly Cummings.

“We had some good, competitive at-bats and they’re an unbelievably talented team and they made some really good plays,” Oakland said. “We competed hard and it was a good experience for us.”

Rio Mesa of Oxnard (13-1-1) won the Fab 15 Silver Division in a 1-0 title-game victory over Vista Murrieta of Murrieta.

Besides the no-hitter by Keighran, two performances that stood out in this year’s Michelle Carew Classic were turned in by pitchers Brianne Weiss of Orange Lutheran and Zoe Prystajko of Huntington Beach.

Weiss, a Notre Dame-bound senior, had 20 strikeouts in a 3-0 win over Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic.

Prystajko, a Stanford-committed junior, became the first pitcher to shut out current No. 5 ranked Norco since 2017 when she tossed a 9-inning 2-0 shutout on three hits with six walks, two hit batters and 17 strikeouts.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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  1. Wilbur Jordan
    Posted April 2, 2023 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Looks like you guys have dis respected Sutter softball again they are 13-0 won the Reed Tournament over the weekend for the 2ndyear in a row? Young team with 1 senior all the rest underclassmen. They should be ranked somewhere!

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted April 3, 2023 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Again? Give me a break. We’ve honored Sutter girls and teams many, many times over the years. We’ll check them out this week. It’s still early in the season.

      • Wilbur Jordan
        Posted April 3, 2023 at 12:55 pm | Permalink


        Maybe I was a little hard on you! You have given Sutter its due in the past. It is a little early as they have some tough tests ahead with a good Wheatland team and a game with East Nicolaus later in season. Also, I see they have a game with Huntington Beach. They have surprised me considering the players that graduated. Since the days of Jessica Moore and Taylor Pack the program has been solid.

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