ANAHEIM, Calif. – The St. Francis Lancers didn’t get the Michelle Carew Classic tournament title they travelled from Mountain View to try and snag, but the top team from Northern California still turned some heads with a third-place finish against the top teams from Southern California after an 11-6 Saturday night victory in a slugfest over perennial state power Norco.
The third-place win over Cal-Hi Sports No. 16 Norco followed a heartbreaking 3-2 semifinal upset loss by the No. 2 ranked Lancers to host and eventual Carew champion Canyon-Anaheim. That loss came after a 4-3 quarterfinal victory over another Southern California powerhouse and No. 12 ranked Los Alamitos.
St. Francis (9-1) may not have won the state and arguably the nation’s top softball tournament, but anyone that thinks the Lancers fell on their face against what they know is the best competition there is would be wrong. Unless beating Los Alamitos and Norco doesn’t matter.
The loss to Canyon snapped a 35-game winning streak dating back to a 1-0 record in 2019-2020, 26-0 against CIF Central Coast Section teams last season and an 8-0 start this season prior to the Canyon loss.
St. Francis may have lost a one-run game to Canyon but they lost to arguably the hottest pitcher in the state and possibly the nation, a buzz saw named Kylie Magee. The Arizona State-bound senior struck out 14 Lancers but it wasn’t a fluke since she fanned 17 in a 2-1 victory over Lutheran-Orange in the championship game.
Two two-sport senior Lancers stars (basketball) were particularly impressive for the five games in Anaheim, Minnesota-bound Jessica Oakland and Washington-signed Sydney Stewart.
Oakland was 8-for-13 with two home runs, two doubles, two walks, 10 RBI and six runs scored. Stewart only had four hits but two were home runs and one was a double. One of the round-trippers was a grand slam that came in a win over Esperanza-Anaheim. Stewart ended up walking six times, like Oakland she had 10 RBI, plus five runs scored.
The sophomore pitching corps of Shannon Keighran and left-hander Kate Munnerlyn pitched well against the top competition in the state. Keighran did give up a home run in the Canyon loss as did Munnerlyn to Norco, but Norco has been one of the top hitting teams in the state for over a decade.
According to tournament director and Southern California softball legend Lance Eddy the thing that impressed Lancers head coach Mike Oakland was the pitching of the SoCal powerhouses.
“We just don’t see this kind of pitching in Northern California,” Oakland told Eddy.
Seeing the king of pitching they did will certainly help the Lancers in the quest for a West Catholic Athletic League championship, a CIF Central Coast Section title, and this season for the first time a CIF state Northern Regional championship.
The journey continues this week with a tough game right out of the box when St. Francis hosts Cal-Hi Sports No. 13 Archbishop Mitty in WCAL action on Wednesday. From there the Lancers head to the Livermore Stampede where they will be the favorites to win the tournament. St. Francis opens the Stampede on Thursday with Freedom-Oakley.