LIVERMORE, Calif. – The 16-team field of the 2022 Livermore Stampede began on Thursday with five teams ranked in the Cal-Hi Sports state top 25 rankings and one team knocking on the door.
Now, after the completion of three games of pool play only two of the ranked teams and the one knocking on the door remain, No. 3 St. Francis-Mountain View, No. 15 Granada-Livermore, and a Sheldon-Sacramento team looking like it should be ranked. The fourth pool winner is a Whitney-Rocklin team that established itself as a dark horse on the first day of the Stampede when they upset No. 9 ranked Archbishop Mitty-San Jose.
St. Francis (13-1) showed just why it’s the top team in Northern California and the favorite to win the Stampede, but head coach Mike Oakland and his Lancers still have a lot of unfinished business before being the Stampede champion. However, on Friday St. Francis put on a display of astounding pitching and hitting rarely seen
The Lancers played two games on Friday at the Ernie Rodrigues Softball Fields.
The first game was a Stampede Classic. Siena College-committed junior Chloe Cummings pitched a timed-out, six-inning perfect game with 13 strikeouts in a 9-0 victory, plus she helped herself at the plate with an RBI double and a sacrifice.
Just as it has been all season, and ever since she donned a Lancers uniform, the big bat in this game belonged to the coach’s daughter, Jessica Oakland. The Minnesota-bound two-sport star (basketball), blasted her ninth home run of the season, an over 250-foot shot to left center, plus a double. She finished 3-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored.
Cummings twin sister, Carly Cummings, had three hits and scored twice, sophomore Shannon Keighran, the Lancers’ top pitcher, had two hits including an RBI single, Boston University-bound senior Brooke Deppiesse had two hits, including a double, and scored twice, and Georgetown-bound senior Claire Turner had an RBI single.
As for Chloe Cummings her performance came in only her fourth appearance in the circle this season. The bulk of the pitching duties have gone to Keighran and fellow sophomore Kate Munnerlyn, but with St. Francis playing 11 games since March 31, things changed in the Lancers pitching strategy.
“Chloe threw a ton for us last year but we just haven’t used her as much this season,” Oakland said. “But with all these games in such a short period we needed to bring her back into the mix.”
“Yes, perfect,” said a beaming Cummings. “I think I had one when I was younger but it’s my first perfect game in high school.”
Speaking of Munnerlyn and her pitching. She didn’t quite duplicate the perfecto of Cummings but in the Lancers second game, a 10-0 timed-out, five innings win over Carondelet-Concord, Munnerlyn pitched a no-hitter with seven strikeouts. Only an error separated her from a perfect game.
The Lancers other big bat came alive in the Carondelet win. Washington-bound two-sport star (basketball) Sydney Stewart, had three hits including a double, three RBI and a run scored. Oakland wasn’t exactly silenced. She had a triple, a double, a base on balls, and drove in two and scored twice. Keighran got into the act as well with a two-run home run.
Let’s play three
The late Major League Baseball star Ernie Banks had an expression out of his love for baseball and a desire to play a doubleheader every day. “It’s a beautiful day for baseball. Let’s play two,” became Banks’ moniker.
For Sheldon-Sacramento head coach Mary Jo Truesdale on Friday at the Stampede Banks would have had to change his expression to “let’s play three.”
Because Sheldon (10-3) had a Delta League game on Thursday with Elk Grove the Stampede organizers had to schedule them for three Pool A games on Friday. Sheldon came into the Stampede on the Cal-Hi Sports Bubble, although two of their three losses were to state-ranked teams. Truesdale and her Huskies prepped for the Stampede with a 1-0 victory over an Elk Grove team that was undefeated and ranked No.7 in the state.
Sheldon played its first game at 11:00 a.m. and it was an 8-0 victory over Monte Vista-Danville behind a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks by Delaware State-committed senior Breanna Romero. The Huskies blasted two home runs, a grand slam by San Jose State-bound senior Reina Zermeno and a solo shot by Arizona-signed senior Dakota Kennedy. UC Santa Barbara-bound senior Jazzy Fines had two hits and drove in two, and Jackson State-committed senior Beija Allen had three hits, an RBI and a run scored.
In a back-to-back game at 1:00 p.m. with Liberty-Brentwood the Huskies coasted to a timed out six-inning 5-1 victory on a combined five-hitter with 10 strikeouts by Cal-bound senior D’Auna Johnson and UC San Diego-commit Jaylee Ojo. Allen had three RBI and Sacramento State-bound senior Imani Black had a triple, double and scored twice.
Truesdale and her Huskies got a break before meeting host and No. 20 ranked Livermore in a 7:00 p.m. game to decide who would move on from Pool A to the Championship Flight.
Livermore took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first but it was short-lived as Sheldon struck for three runs in the bottom of the inning and never looked back in a 7-3 victory. Romero went the distance in a timed-out, four-inning win and finished with an eight-hitter with five strikeouts.
Sheldon only had six hits but they were big ones, including a three-run home run by Johnson. Loyola Marymount-committed junior Sakora “CoCo” Harvell had a double that drove in two runs.
Sheldon now meets St. Francis in one of the 5:00 p.m. semifinals on Saturday.
“Never count us out,” said Truesdale, who was honored before the game for her selection as a 2020 National Federation of High School Associations National Coach of the Year and a 2022 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee. .
“St. Francis is just fantastic. They’re over the top,” Truesdale continued, and then talked about a simple game plan against the Lancers. “The plan is what we’ve always done. Hit the ball.”
The other semifinal will pit Granada against upstart Whitney.
Granada (13-1) opened the Stampede with an 8-0 win over Dublin to go to 12-0 in what is believed to be the greatest start in school history, but then they were upset in a 3-2 loss to Benicia. That meant the Matadors came into their final Pool C game with a No. 22 ranked Heritage-Brentwood team needing to win by two or more runs against a Patriots team that was 2-0 in pool play.
Granada put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first and one in the second, but Heritage scored four times in the top of the fourth to make it a 4-4 tie. Junior Alexandra Mello came on in relief of sophomore Sierra Black who gave up the four runs. She got the final two outs of the fourth.
Needing to win by two runs to advance, that’s exactly what Granada got in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Sarah Deplitch doubled and moved to third on a single by senior Mariah Ayala. Freshman standout slugger Delaney Aumua walked to load the bases bringing sophomore Saskia Rabb to the plate. She was hit by a pitch to drive in Deplitch. The final run came on a groundout by sophomore Alecsis Phillips that plated Ayala.
Mello then took the circle in the top of the fifth and retired the side for a timed-out 6-4 victory.
Rabb had a three-run home run and Notre Dame-bound senior Makayla Winchell continued her solid play and was 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a run scored.
After Whitney upset No. 9 ranked Archbishop Mitty-San Jose on Thursday, all they had to do was win its two games on Friday morning against College Park-Pleasant Hill and Foothill-Pleasanton, and that’ exactly what the Wildcats did with respective 3-2 and 7-5 victories.
In the College Park win the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and then hung on for the win. Two of the three runs were unearned with freshman Alyssa Flindt driving in the only earned run.
Whitney trailed Foothill 5-4 after two innings but the Wildcats got three in the top of the third and sophomore Hannah Duncan, who came on in relief of senior Jordyn Jochims shut down the Falcon in the final two innings in a timed-out win that sent Whitney to the Championship Flight. Flindt had the key hit once again with a three-run home run, sophomore Madilyn Novello had three hits with an RBI and a run scored, and Jochims added three hits and a run batted in.
The winner of the Whitney versus Granada semifinal on Saturday will face the winner of the St. Francis versus Sheldon semi at 7:00 p.m. for the Stampede title.