Led By A Pair Of Undefeated Teams From 2021, The Season-Opening NorCal Softball Top 20 Suggests A Riveting Three Months Ahead Of Us •
PICTURED ABOVE: No. 1 St. Francis-Mountain View from March 2020. (SFHS Athletics photo)
1. ST. FRANCIS-MOUNTAIN VIEW (26-0 in 2021)
It’s Jessica Oakland’s world and the rest of Bay Area softball is simply living in it. The Minnesota-bound Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year last season led the state with 19 home runs and hit .612 with 55 RBI. She brought some friends back with her, too. Including hurler Chloe Cummings who finished with a 12-0 record and 0.86 ERA through 73 innings pitched. Cummings’ battery mate, Sydney Stewart, returns to the lineup after hitting a robust .559 with 12 home runs, eight doubles and four triples. The undefeated section champs are most certainly the team to beat. But considering they outscored their 26 opponents by a combined score of 267-30, that’s not going to be easy.
2. HERITAGE-BRENTWOOD (25-0)
If St. Francis was a consensus No. 1 throughout the Bay Area, Heritage appears to be everybody’s No. 2. The Patriots graduated just three seniors off of their own unbeaten squad of 2021. Coach Ron Rivers potentially has his most athletic roster to date, led by Cal-bound four-year starter Tianna Bell. The slugging third baseman had 10 homers, 12 doubles and 46 RBI last season. Three Boise State commits represent the middle of the infield with seniors Kasey Aguinaga (pitcher) and Taci Hasse (shortstop), and junior second baseman Skylar Stroh. The Patriots’ most likely collision course with St. Francis will be at the Livermore Stampede in early April.
3. SHELDON-SACRAMENTO (21-5*)
The Huskies open as the clear No. 1 team out of the Sac-Joaquin Section. Legendary coach Mary Jo Truesdale brings back a loaded roster featuring her top six hitt hitters from a season ago. Among them will be junior pitcher/outfielder Jaylee Ojo. All she did last year was hit .523 with 11 HRs and 45 RBI. As a pitcher, Ojo went 10-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 82 strikeouts.
4. ROSEVILLE (19-4)
For Roseville, it starts with Malaya Johnson, who begins her fourth and final year in the circle for the Tigers. She owns a 33-9 career record and hasn’t posted an ERA over 1.00 since her freshman season. Oh yeah, this team also returns it’s top five hitters from a year ago.
5. LIVERMORE (16-3)
If the East Bay Athletic League title is going to move out of Pleasanton this season, the Cowboys just might be the team that makes it happen. Jae Cosgriff, who hit six home runs and led the team with 25 RBI as a freshman in 2021, leads a dangerous and balanced offense.
6. NOTRE DAME-SALINAS (17-3)
Sisters Samantha and Victoria Rey are back after combining for 68 hits, 57 runs and 41 RBI for a team that earned Cal-Hi Sports’ 2021 Div. III State Team Of The Year honors. Samantha Rey is also one of five returning pitchers.
7. VANDEN-FAIRFIELD (11-0)
The Vikings may have only got 11 games into their rushed spring a year ago, but the won all of them — and that included a victory over Sheldon. Seven of the team’s top eight hitters return as does ace Hazyl Gray (8-0 with 82 strikeouts in 50.2 innings in 2021).
8. ARCHBISHOP MITTY-SAN JOSE (14-7)
WIth seven of their top eight hitters set to return — including Cal-bound infielder Elon Butler and Indiana-bound infielder Taryn Kern — the Monarchs should have no problem generating runs. If they find consistent pitching, look out.
9. FOOTHILL-PLEASANTON (17-2)
The Falcons had just three seniors on last season’s EBAL championship squad. However, massively successful coach Matt Sweeney stepped down after last year and Greg Chambers will begin a new era. Sophomore catcher Marissa Anderson and senior outfielder Avery Francis will be two of his initial cornerstones.
10. SUTTER (24-0)
This Northern Section power opened some eyes last spring when it won a 5-2 road game over then-ranked Elk Grove. The Huskies return three different players who had 30 RBI or more last season, as well as ace Riley Wickum (18-0, 0.89 ERA).
The Next 10
11. ELK GROVE (18-8)
12. REDWOOD-LARKSPUR (17-2)
13. ST. FRANCIS-SACRAMENTO (15-6)
14. MARIN CATHOLIC-KENTFIELD (15-1)
15. ARAGON-SAN MATEO (15-3)
16. DEL ORO-LOOMIS (16-7)
17. SAN BENITO-HOLLISTER (14-4)
18. VISTA DEL LAGO-FOLSOM (18-3)
19. EAST NICOLAUS (23-2)
20. FREEDOM-OAKLEY (17-5)