LIVERMORE, Calif. – Following a two-year hiatus due to COVID the Livermore Stampede returned to the Tri-Valley area, and while the winner of the top softball tournament in Northern California was from Livermore, it wasn’t host Livermore that won the title but cross-town arch rival Granada after a 6-3 victory over Sheldon-Sacramento on Saturday night at the Ernie Rodrigues Softball Fields.
It was the second Stampede title in school history with the first coming in 1996, but this victory was very likely the greatest win in school history..
Notre Dame-bound senior star Makayla Winchell snagged the Charlie Foscalina Most Valuable Player award after a very solid tournament. She was 9-for-16 with a home run, two doubles, five RBI, seven runs scored and two stolen bases for the five-game Stampede. In the championship game Winchell was 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.
“I’m so proud of these girls. I could not have done it myself. It was definitely a team effort,” said Winchell, who preferred to talk about the team. “From pitching to hitting to defense. I’m just so proud.”
“It puts us on a pedestal and makes people respect our name,” Winchell continued. “We’re doing big things and people are now starting to see it. We knew from the start, from our first practice, that this season was going to be special. I knew from the start.”
Granada (15-1) came into the 2022 Livermore Stampede as the Cal-Hi Sports No. 15 ranked team and with a school best 11-game winning streak to start the season. The streak went to 12 straight after an 8-0 victory over nearby Dublin to open Stampede play, but then head coach Johnny Heinz and his Matadors suffered their first blemish of the season after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Benicia.
At that point with a 1-1 record in Pool C play, Granada was in jeopardy of not making it to the championship bracket unless they could best a 2-0 Heritage-Brentwood by two or more runs. They bolted to a 4-0 lead but after Heritage tied it at 4-4 in the top of the fourth the Matadors scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning and held on for a 6-4 timed-out, five inning victory. Junior Alexandra Mello came on in relief for junior Sierra Black and got the final five outs to preserve the victory.
From there Granada moved into the semifinals against upstart Whitney-Rocklin. They took a 1-0 lead after two innings but fell behind 4-1 in the top of the third. The Matadors answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to trail 4-2. With the game close to being timed-out Granada put a five spot on the board in the bottom of the fourth and once again Mello came on in relief of Black to get the final four outs.
That set up the championship game with a Sheldon team that defeated Cal-Hi Sports No. 3 St. Francis 6-4 in the semifinals.
Winchell led off the game with a single and after a two-base error she was sacrificed home by sophomore Sara Deplitch who was driven in on a single by sophomore Saskia Rabb for a 2-0 Granada lead.
In this game Mello was the starter and she retired the side in order in the top of the second. Sophomore Alecsis Phillips walked to lead off the second and she was driven in by an RBI single by Rabb. Up stepped Winchell to the plate and she launched a two-run home run to make it 5-0 Granada. Winchell accounted for the final Matadors run after driving in senior Sydney Gutierrez to make it 6-0 Granada in the top of the fourth.
Sheldon (11-4) scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Cal-bound D’Auna Johnson, and two in the seventh on a single by Santa Clara-bound senior Jaylee Marshall, a single by senior Alexia Castillo, an error that scored Marshall, and an RBI single by senior Cassidy Horning, but Mello struck out Johnson to end the game.
“I think the girls believe they can play with anyone,” said Heinz. “Our little wake-up call was Benicia. We came out ready to play after that game and it took a little monkey off our back.”
“They’re playing for each other and that’s what’s turning the corner for us,” continued Heinz about what makes this team special. “I think for the most part we’re pretty humble but time will tell for us but I feel like they’re on track.”
Granada will certainly be looking like a favorite in the East Bay Athletic League but with cross-town Livermore plus other looming nothing will be easy.
Editor's note: The championship for Granada was updated on April 12 to reflect a second Stampede title and not the first.
St. Francis-Mountain View 8, Whitney 0
The Third-Place game was all Minnesota-bound two-sport star (basketball) Jessica Oakland. After two scoreless innings she blasted a long, three-run home run to left field for a 3-0 Lancers lead. Oakland duplicated the three-run shot in the bottom of the fifth with Boston University-committed Brooke Deppiesse driving in a run and Shannon Keighran also driving in a run to make it 6-0 Lancers. Keighran finished off a 5-inning timed out game with a no-hitter with nine strikeouts and only two bases on balls preventing her from a perfect game. Oakland hit home run No. 11 on the season and was 2-for-3 with six RBI and two runs scored. Junior Alexis O’Gorman had two hits and scored twice and junior Carly Cummings had a hit and scored twice. St. Francis improves to 14-2 on the season
Archbishop Mitty-San Jose 5, Livermore 1
Stampede host Livermore jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Taylor Rodriguez but the Dominican-University-bound pitcher and slugger gave up a two-run home run to Cal-bound senior Elon Butler that gave Mitty a lead it never relinquished. Butler also had a two-run double in the fifth and ended up going 2-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored. Indiana-bound senior Taryn Kern had a solo home run for the fifth Monarchs run, and sophomores Sara Pina and Mia Rodriguez each scored a run. Pennsylvania-bound senior pitcher Kelly Zybura went all six innings of the timed-out win and tossed a three-hitter.
Heritage-Brentwood 5, Freedom-Oakley 2
Cal-bound senior Tianna Bell launched a two-run home run and sophomore Mikaela Mortimer had three hits including an RBI single, plus she scored a run as Heritage (9-3-1) rebounded from a 3-1 loss to Archbishop Mitty to secure seventh place. Bell’s home run accounted for half of the four runs the Patriots scored in the first two innings before coasting home to the win. Junior Jessica Im had two hits and scored a run, and junior Summer Lagomarsino had an RBI and a run scored. Freedom (6-6) got RBI singles from junior Jordan Greer and sophomore Maya Soto.
Monte Vista-Danville 7, Foothill-Pleasanton 6 (8 innings)
An all East Bay Athletic League match-up went to International rules after the teams were tied 4-4 after seven innings. Monte Vista (7-7) pushed two runs across in the top of the eighth and Foothill answered with a run in the bottom of the inning and had the winning run at the plate but junior pitcher Rian Prichard got the final out on a grounder to end the game. Senior Katie Bauer was 5-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, sophomore Angelina Betti had two hits, drove in two and scored twice, and freshman Avery Williams had two hits and scored a run. For Foothill (10-6) junior Izzie McElroy had two hits, including a double, and three runs batted in.