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By Harold Abend
The 19th Annual Livermore Stampede saw some fresh new faces star on the Ernie Rodriquez Sports Fields at Robertson Park in Livermore.
In the end, however, it was Archbishop Mitty of San Jose (16-0) winning its third title in the last five years, as the Monarchs took out host Livermore 4-2 in Saturday’s title game.
As they did through the entire tournament, Mitty used a combination of solid pitching, lots of hitting, and a defense that did not commit an error in the Stampede’s five games.
Just like in four of the five victories, pitcher Desiree Severance went all the way to get the win.
Unlike former Monarchs’ pitchers Keilani Ricketts (current All-American at Oklahoma), who threw smoke, or current Cal right-fielder Vanessa Alvarez, who kept hitters off balance by mixing up her pitches, Severance uses a compact approach that combined with a fastball in the low 60s with lots of late movement, makes it difficult for batters to pick up the ball.
Against Livermore, the sophomore scattered nine hits, walked three and hit a batter, but she struck out six, including three in the final two innings when Livermore was applying pressure.
“I think it was the endorphins kicking in. I had to get it done,” Severance told Cal-Hi Sports.
“Having runners on base can be stressful but I didn’t change my approach because I knew I had the defense behind me,” continued Severance, who in the Stampede’s tradition of honoring the winning team’s top pitcher, was named MVP of the tournament.
Even so, with the stands packed with hometown fans, Livermore (8-4) gave Mitty all it could handle, and on two occasions, where the Cowboys eventually left the bases loaded, it looked like they might have the champions on the ropes.
“Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali baby!” shouted Mitty head coach Brain Yocke, as he assumed a boxer’s stance while responding about his team looking like they were ready to get knocked out a couple of times.
“Keep me on the ropes as long as you want, but there are a thousand ways to win a game. Blowout, close, ugly, pretty, and this one was pretty because we did the things we had to do to pull out the championship. There were no heroes in this tournament. Everyone contributed.”
Defending champion Amador Valley, trying its hand at the Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim, left the door wide open for a newcomer to capture Northern California’s most prestigious girls high school softball tournament, but Mitty had other ideas.
The way the game started, it looked like the Monarchs were going to corral the Cowboys early.
After Cal-committed junior shortstop Jazmyn Jackson (3-for-4, double, two steals) made her only out to lead off the game, Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo-bound senior third-sacker Kiersten Nordin blasted a long home run. Three singles by Catherine Callaway, Danielle Bowers and Madeleine Kim produced another run and Mitty had a 2-0 lead.
In the third inning, Bowers (2-for-4, double, run scored) reached on an error and Kim plated her for the sophomore catcher’s second RBI to make it 3-0 Mitty.
After Livermore left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning, Bowers doubled to lead off the top of the fifth and eventually came around on a double by Ashley Chestnut that made it 4-0 Mitty.
The Cowboys left the bases loaded again in the bottom of the fifth, but not before they scored both of their runs. The big hit of the inning was the second ground rule double of the game by freshman Hannah Bennett. The hard line drive came within inches of being a three-run home run that would have tied the game. Instead, it went through the fence and only one run scored.
Livermore made noise again in the bottom of the seventh inning when Kristen Paulazzo singled to lead off.
From there, however, Severance knuckled down, striking out the next batter, then getting a grounder that shortstop Jackson gobbled up, and then securing the final out on a comebacker she flipped to first before her Monarchs’ teammates stormed the circle.
“What showed me the most about Desiree was when they got the leadoff hitter on in the seventh,” remarked Yocke. “After that she threw her best pitches.”
Cowboys head coach Larry Bird, who works with Tournament Director Denise Meyer in putting on the finest girls softball tournament in Northern California, got gutsy performances from his girls, particularly pitcher Ashley Weiler. She gave up the four runs on 11 hits, but she only walked one and struck out four, and had she not been so crafty Mitty might have scored seven or eight runs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my girls,” Bird said. “We went 4-1 and lost a close one to one of the state’s top teams. These kids are unselfish and they have the hearts of lions. Even when we were down the only talk in the dugout was about coming back.”
The championship game was set when Mitty roughed up Cal-bound Whitney (Rocklin) left-handed pitcher Taylor Cotton in a 6-2 six-inning timed out semifinal victory.
Instead of Cotton dominating, it was Mitty’s Severance doing it just like she did the entire tournament.
Cotton got knocked out of the circle after 4 1/3 innings that saw her give up five runs and six hits, with three walks and three hit batters.
Severance went all the way, and although she didn’t have a strikeout, she didn’t allow a hit through four innings, and ended up allowing only two hits and three walks.
Both Mitty’s Bowers (2-for-4, HR, 2B, RBI, two runs) and senior Chestnut blasted home runs, and Jackson was 2-for-3 with a triple, RBI, run scored and a stolen base.
A two-run home run by freshman Shelby Miller accounted for all of Whitney’s runs.
Livermore made it to the championship game by taking a 3-0 decision from East Bay Athletic League rival Danville Monte Vista.
All three Livermore runs came in the third inning. Bennett had the big bat. She was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
In the third place game, Whitney was a 4-3 winner over Monte Vista.
Stampede Stars From Title Game Teams
Hannah Bennett (Livermore) Fr.
Batting: 8-for-13, four doubles, four RBIs, two runs scored.
Danielle Bowers (Archbishop Mitty) Soph.
Batting: 6-for-18, home run, three doubles, RBI, four runs, two steals.
Jazmyn Jackson (Archbishop Mitty) Jr.
Batting: 11-for-17, triple, double, RBI, three runs scored, three walks, seven stolen bases.
Madeleine Kim (Archbishop Mitty) Soph.
Batting: 4-for-10, two doubles, four RBIs, four runs scored, three walks.
Kiersten Nordin (Archbishop Mitty) Sr.
Batting: 5-for-15, home run, two RBIs, two runs scored, three stolen bases.
Kristen Paulazzo (Livermore) Jr.
Batting: 7-for-17, home run, four RBIs, five runs scored.
Desiree Severance (Archbishop Mitty) Soph
Pitching: 4-0 record, four runs given up in 28 innings, 16 hits, nine walks, 16 strikeouts; Batting: 4-for-11, double, three runs scored.
No. 1 Amador Valley loses first game at Carew Classic
Whether there will be a new No. 1 team in the state in a few days is still to be decided, but last week’s No. 1, Amador Valley of Pleasanton, lost its first game at the Michelle Carew Classic in Southern California.
The Dons actually dropped their first game of the week in an upset to unheralded Yorba Linda. They came back strongly, however, to win three in a row and won the consolation crown with a 2-1 win on Saturday in eight innings over Lakewood.
Yorba Linda followed up its win over Amador by knocking off both Esperanza of Anaheim (another top 10 team in the state) and Los Alamitos to reach the final.
In the final, Yorba Linda’s ride ended in a 4-0 loss to Pacifica of Garden Grove. Pacifica was the No. 1 team in the preseason state rankings and after a slow start looked that good over the weekend.
The Mariners were led in their title game triumph by pitcher Kaylee Carlson, who threw a three-hitter. Offensively, Nicole DeWitt went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
Lutheran of Orange won the third-place game 6-1 over Los Alamitos while Esperanza took third with a 1-0 win against Murrieta Valley. According to OCVarsity.com, Hayley Copeland tossed a perfect game for the Aztecs.
Defending State Team of the Year Norco also was in the tournament field.
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