One week after falling in the title game of the top tournament in Southern California, state No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View wins in the title game of the top tournament in Northern California. The 3-0 shutout of San Ramon Valley of Danville will keep the Lancers No. 2 in the next state rankings and created some separation between them and other top-ranked squads in their region.
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It wasn’t just Saturday’s 3-0 victory by the St. Francis of Mountain View softball team over San Ramon Valley of Danville in the championship contest of the 29th annual Livermore Stampede that pushed the Lancers to an even stronger position of being the No. 1 team in Northern California.
Other results from throughout the tournament earlier in the week plus how St. Francis did one week before at the Michelle Carew Classic in Southern California were other indicators that head coach Mike Oakland’s program has to be regarded at this point of the season as a favorite to repeat as the CIF Northern California D1 champions.
“We’re pitching very well, playing good defense and we’re getting more competitive at bats,” Oakland answered after giving his assessment of the team after its last two tournaments. “There’s a lot of games left and still a lot to work on.”
St. Francis (12-1) entered this year’s Stampede after a second-place finish in the top division last weekend at the Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim. The only loss was in the title game, 4-2, to Los Alamitos, which moved to No. 1 in the state last week with the Lancers dropping down from No. 2. They didn’t play teams at the Carew like Norco (which was No. 1 in the state two weeks ago after beating Los Al in the title game of the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Arizona) or Murrieta Mesa of Murrieta (preseason state No. 1), but they did beat state top 10 teams Marina of Huntington Beach and Pacifica of Garden Grove.
In the Livermore Stampede format, teams are placed in groups of four teams and play three times over a three-day period, then the winners of each group are placed into semifinals and finals that are played back-to-back at fields right next to each other at the Ernie Rodrigues Softball Complex. St. Francis played an Amador Valley of Pleasanton team in its semifinal mainly because the Dons posted a 3-2 upset of St. Francis’ big rivals from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. San Ramon Valley had been No. 20 in the state when the week started with an 8-0 record, then was upset by Alameda on Tuesday leading into the Stampede before going 3-0 in its group and then playing league rival and host Livermore in its semifinal.
While the San Ramon Valley-Livermore semifinal went down to the final swings in the seventh inning, St. Francis rolled to a 10-0 win (stopped in the fifth inning) over Amador Valley. A two-run single by freshman Jamie Oakland (younger sister of 2022 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year Jessica Oakland, now at Minnesota), a three-run homer by Rebecca Quinn and a two-run homer by Maya Yuma backed up the shutout pitching of Shannon Keighran.
Livermore was looking to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the other semifinal vs San Ramon Valley and got it to 2-1 in the seventh inning on an RBI grounder with less than two outs by Alizabeth Ruiz. But with the tying runner on base, SRV pitcher Paige McLeod punched out the next batter to end the game.
McLeod, who is headed to Illinois State University, also pitched very well considering the competition she was facing in the title game. St. Francis looked like it was going to perhaps cruise to another mercy-rule win with one run in the top of the first and two in the second, but McLeod gave up just and infield field in the seventh the rest of the way.
The difference in the title game was Lancers’ junior pitcher Kate Munnerlyn. The Texas A&M recruit, who had a no-hitter earlier in the weekend against defending Stampede champion Granada of Livermore, was threatening to throw a second straight no-hitter. She didn’t allow a hit until the fifth on an infield dribbler that just slipped through the defense by sophomore Mikaela Finley. There also was a hit by the Wolves in the seventh, but after both hits Munnerlyn notched strikeouts.
“My screwball and my drop were showing a lot of motion and that’s kind of what I stuck to,” said Munnerlyn, who was named the Charlie Foscalina MVP and had 14 strikeouts to go with her two-hitter. “We’re seeing really good competition the last two weeks that will help us prepare for CCS.”
Carly Cummings led off the game with a single for St. Francis and came around to score the first run on a grounder up the middle by Alexis O’Gorman. In the second, the leadoff hit was a double by Chloe Cummings. She scored on an RBI single by Quinn. Oakland then drove in the second run of the inning on a single.
McLeod got the final out of the second inning, then went through the Lancers’ order 1-2-3 in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“After the loss (to Alameda), we used it as momentum to put other teams on notice that we are going to be a good team,” McLeod said. “After playing St. Francis, we’re feeling confident. This tourney helped us realize what we can do. I wish we could have had a better shot at the end.”
Munnerlyn was the same pitcher who shut down the potent offense of CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 champion Sheldon of Sacramento in last year’s CIF NorCal regional semifinals. Oakland (the head coach) said the main goal for his team is still winning the CCS Open Division final and knows that despite losing to Amador Valley that Archbishop Mitty is going to be a team capable of beating the Lancers.
With his background as the St. Francis head baseball coach as well, it’s hard for longtime coaches like Oakland to connect with the concept of playing extra regional games after section championships that have been so hard to get not just in the CCS but also in other CIF sections, particularly the Southern. No team can ever be State Team of the Year, however, if it loses its last game. St. Francis couldn’t have done it last year if it had lost in the NorCal regionals after winning CCS. That team didn’t win at the Stampede, so this year’s team now has a chance to do both.
More From The Stampede
*Jamie Oakland went 3-for-4 with four RBI in the semifinal win vs Amador Valley. Keighran, who had a no-hitter last week at the Michelle Carew Classic, ended with a two-hitter and eight strikeouts in her five innings.
*McLeod had a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts in the 2-1 win by San Ramon Valley in the semis vs Livermore. Sophomore catcher Ava Lyons went 2-for-3 with a double. Livermore pitcher Savanna Froke also pitched well during the week. She only allowed four hits in the semifinal with no walks and four strikeouts.
*Two of the best players not just in the tourney but in NorCal, Corri Hicks of Archbishop Mitty (Oklahoma) and Sakora Harvell of Sheldon (Loyola Marymount), both launched homers in the title game of the Stampede Flight, which involved teams that were second in their respective groups. Hicks and the Monarchs rallied from a 4-0 deficit with a six-run explosion on the bottom the third and went on to record a 6-4 win.
*In the third-place game between league rivals Amador Valley and Livermore, the host Cowboys scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut into a 3-2 deficit, but the Dons broke it open in the top of the seventh with a three-run rally and went on to get a 6-2 win.
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