Pacifica: State Softball Team of Year

Pacifica of Garden Grove players and coaches get their CIF Southern Section D1 championship photo taken after 3-0 win over Orange Lutheran. Photo: Harold Abend.

Twenty years almost to the day when Pacifica of Garden Grove repeated as State Team of the Year in California high school softball, the Mariners earn the selection for the 2024 season. This also is the school’s fourth all-time No. 1 finish, which is now tied for the state lead in that category as well. The team needed some help in the last week to get it, which was unbeaten St. Francis of Mountain View losing in the CIF NorCal D1 regional playoffs, but even before that its senior class stamped itself as an all-time great group with its victory in the CIF Southern Section D1 championship.


We hope you like this free post on Please help us out today by becoming a member of our Gold Club so you can see all of our great content, including expanded final State Top 40 softball team rankings plus some of our upcoming all-state softball teams. For more on special offer to get signed up for $3.99 for one month, CLICK HERE.

Schools with great success in one sport over 30 or 40 years are most often associated with one coach. At Pacifica of Garden Grove in softball, there was one, then another, then a tragedy and then a third.

The third head coach in the dynasty, Tony Arduino, directed this year’s team to its second straight CIF Southern Section Division I championship. That fact, plus the team owning a 27-2 overall record, has lifted the Mariners to the 2024 selection as Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year.

The CIFSS D1 championship plaque has just been handed over to the girls from Pacifica of Garden Grove. Photo: Mark Bausman / For OC Sports Zone.

Pacifica softball can also now claim four final No. 1 finishes in the state. The previous State Teams of the Year were earned in 2004, 2003 and 1997. Those teams were led by head coach Rob Weil, who spent 16 years at the school from 1990 to 2005. He is now coaching at Los Alamitos and has had a State Team of the Year there (2017). The only other school in state history to have had four State Team of the Year honors in softball is Lincoln of Stockton, which had dominant teams in the late 1980s and into the early 1990s.

Head coach Mark Campbell then had teams at Pacifica in the early 2010s and later that won CIFSS titles (the school now has nine in all) but were not No. 1 in the state. He died suddenly during the 2019 season at just 57 years old and we assume several of the girls on this year’s team knew him when they were in junior high.

Arduino, who is a special education teacher on campus and was an assistant baseball coach before switching to softball, took over the post and now he has made his stamp on the program’s ledger. His first season in 2020 was cut short by COVID but then in 2021 a special group of freshmen arrived.

That Class of 2024 at Pacifica included pitcher Brynne Nally, who back in 2021 was the State Freshman Player of the Year. There also has been shortstop Kaniya Bragg (committed to UCLA), catcher Delaina Ma’ae (UC Santa Barbara), outfielder Kayli Counts (Cal) and first baseman Anneka Sogsti (Cal State Fullerton).

With those five, plus others, the Mariners were pegged to be one of the top teams in the state and in the nation prior to last season. They had some difficulties, however, with back-to-back opening losses but later in the season they got going in the CIFSS D1 playoffs and won the title with a 15-9 victory over Norco. The eight overall losses, including one to CIF NorCal D1 runner-up St. Francis of Mountain View, made it impossible to rank Pacifica No. 1 in the state (especially when NorCal D1 winner Hollister ended up beating St. Francis twice).

This season, Pacifica started the season on top of the state and in at least one national ranking we follow. The team was rolling along after winning the Dave Kops TOC in Arizona, but then slipped up at the Michelle Carew Classic with back-to-back losses to Canyon of Anaheim (which later lost to St. Francis) and Orange Lutheran. The OLu loss also caused Pacifica to drop behind the Lancers in the Orange County rankings and in the state rankings.

Both Pacifica and Orange Lutheran fought their way into the CIFSS D1 championship, which in most years is the toughest bracket in the nation to win. The Mariners, who also had a head-to-head win earlier in the season over OLu, came out on top in that game back on March 19, 3-0. Nally pitched a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and Bragg homered. The first run of the game in the fourth, though, came on a sacrifice fly by Sogsi. Counts had an RBI double for the second run.

Former Pacifica head coach Mark Campbell is part of the school’s tremendous softball legacy. He is shown with standouts Nicole DeWitt and Kaylee Carlson during 2015 season. He passed away during 2019 season. Photo:

Despite the feeling among some coaches and fans in Southern California that the team that wins the CIFSS D1 title should automatically be considered No. 1 in the state, St. Francis was unbeaten, had to be No. 1 after what happened at the Carew, and was in line to finish perhaps at 31-0 with a title in last week’s CIF NorCal D1 playoffs. Then came little ‘ol Amador Valley of Pleasanton. In the first round of that bracket last Tuesday, the Dons shocked the softball world with a 4-1 win over the Lancers.

It doesn’t matter that Pacifica (along with Orange Lutheran) had opted out of the CIF SoCal playoffs. Winning two straight CIFSS D1 titles and doing what it did all season with just two losses was enough. St. Francis had to drop down. Pacifica’s fourth State Team of the Year selection was locked up.

We’ll have more on the five seniors and what they did statistically in upcoming all-state team writeups and we’ll go ahead and guarantee that all five will at least be first or second team overall. Freshman Mattea Stern also led the team in hits with 36 and was second on the team in runs scored. Junior Michaela Meza, who singled and scored the first run in the final game win vs OLu, also was among the team leaders in on-base percentage and runs scored.

Since Pacifica won its back-to-back State Team of the Year honors in 2003 and 2004, the only teams from Orange County to end at No. 1 in the state have been Esperanza of Anaheim for 2021, Los Alamitos for 2017 and Mission Viejo twice (for 2014 and 2016).


(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

Mia Philllips, who will play with Pacifica’s Kayli Counts next season at Cal, was one of Hollister’s top players in 2023. Photo: Jonathan Natividad / Hollister Free Lance.

2024 – Garden Grove Pacifica (27-2)
2023 – Hollister (30-3)
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.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


    Latest News

    Insider Blog