NorCal Softball Season Kicks Into High Gear With Loaded Livermore Stampede •
With more top-end softball tournaments springing up each season, the Livermore Stampede is constantly under pressure to keep its reputation as the premier mid-season NorCal tournament. It will have no problem keeping that title this season.
The 23rd Annual Livermore Stampede may be as loaded as its ever been from April 6-8 at Robertson Park. The 16-team field will feature nine teams from the current SportStars NorCal Top 20 rankings, seven of which reside inside the Top 10.
Rain may affect the schedule, but if they’re able to get the Saturday evening championship game in, it should be worth the price of admission.
Here’s a quick glance at each pool.
RANKED TEAMS: No. 8 Livermore and No. 9 Freedom-Oakley
REST OF GROUP: Arroyo-San Lorenzo and Dougherty Valley-San Ramon
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Freedom has the most pedigree of the four as the defending North Coast Section Div. I champions — and the 2016 Stampede champ, as well — but the Falcons are still finding their footing after a rough opening stretch at the Tournament of Champions in Arizona. Livermore may have a slight edge as the host team. The Cowboys won’t lack in confidence either after defeating current NorCal-No. 1 Amador Valley-Pleasanton 3-2 in East Bay Athletic League action on March 27. Arroyo is a sneaky team too, which recently handed Berkeley its first loss of the season, 2-1 in eight innings on March 30.
RANKED TEAMS: No. 7 Alhambra-Martinez and No. 13 Foothill-Pleasanton
REST OF GROUP: Mountain View and Whitney-Rocklin
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Alhambra was stunned by No. 6 Heritage-Brentwood (more on the Patriots later) in its season-opener on March 28. The Bulldogs rebounded by winning the Reed Invitational in Sparks, Nevada, from March 31-April 1. Based on early scores, however, replacing graduated-pitcher Sam Whitworth, is a work in progress. Foothill’s only hiccup so far has been a 3-2 loss to Livermore in EBAL play. While not ranked yet, both Mountain View and Whitney have wins over ranked opponents this season. Mountain View defeated No. 18 Pioneer-San Jose when the Mustangs were the preseason No. 1. Whitney has a win over No. 12 Elk Grove.
RANKED TEAMS: No. 2 Sheldon-Sacramento and No. 6 Heritage-Brentwood
REST OF GROUP: Carondelet-Concord and Monte Vista-Danville
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Sheldon is the obvious favorite to win not just the pool, but the tournament. Thanks to hitters like Maci Fines (pictured above), the Huskies batted .365 as a team and outscored opponents 73-11 over their first 10 games. Meanwhile, the pitching tandem of senior Taliyah Miles and sophomore Grace Owen combined for a 0.65 ERA. Heritage opened the year with five straight wins — including the 9-3 defeat of Alhambra — but closed out the Washington Union Softball Invitational in Fresno with back-to-back shutout losses to Oaks Christian-Westlake Village and Segerstrom-Santa Ana. Carondelet won eight of its first nine games, outscoring opponents 63-13. Freshman Gabriella Williams led the team in hits (16), average (.593) and RBI (9) through eight games.
RANKED TEAMS: #3 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, #10 St. Mary’s-Stockton and #16 Castro Valley
REST OF GROUP: California-San Ramon
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With three ranked teams, anything can happen in this group. Mitty has been on cruise control since losing 8-0 to Amador Valley on March 14. The Monarchs followed that loss with a nine-game win streak in which they averaged 7.4 runs a game. St. Mary’s was ranked nationally by MaxPreps.com after a 10-0 start to the season, but then suffered its first loss to then-No. 13 Tracy on March 31. Brittney Perez (.531 average through 11 games) and Kiana Parrish (.630) are two Rams players whose at bats are must-see. Castro Valley is the lone team in the tournament who has a win over the host Cowboys, defeating Livermore 2-1 back on March 11. The Trojans showcase consistency up and down the lineup.