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Livermore Stampede post-mortum

It was Saturday night and I was up in the press box at Robertson Park, watching the Livermore Stampede’s third place game between Monte Vista and Deer Valley. It was a methodical game as both teams struggled to gain any momentum with their bats. Monte Vista eventually broke through and held on to a 1-0 win. Good game. Not thrilling, just a good game between two teams that may see each other again in the NCS playoffs.

The championship game on the adjacent, though, showed just how exciting softball can be. While spectators watching Monte Vista-Deer Valley were nearly as quiet as church mouses, those watching the title game between Valley Christian and Archbishop Mitty seemed to explode with cheers every half inning. Spectacular plays on both offense and defense, and the pitching was as good as you’ll find anywhere outside of Oakley. The lead changed hands three times before Valley Christian went ahead late and held on for a 6-4 victory.

The point is this. Good softball games can be more than just a battle between two great pitchers who collect a combined 30 strikeouts. It can also be about hitting balls in the gap, turning two into three, plays at the plate, backhand stabs and throws across the diamond. Everyone who saw Monte Vista beat Deer Valley said they saw a good game. Everyone who saw Valley Christian beat Archbishop Mitty walked away saying they saw one of the best games of the year.

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Livermore Stampede

The 12th Annual Livermore Stampede begin Thursday at Robertson Park and the field appears to be as strong as ever. There are four groups of four teams, with the winner of each pool advancing to Saturday afternoon’s semifinals. Here’s a breakdown of each pool.

Pool A — Alameda, Deer Valley, Livermore, Moreau Catholic

Livermore coasted through the early portion of last year’s Stampede and advanced to the finals. Doing the same this year won’t be as easy, simply because the Cowboys aren’t the same team and the competition within their group is a bit tougher. Alameda is also rebuilding, but Deer Valley has won its last three games and appears to be rounding into form. Moreau Catholic is having an up-and-down season with a relatively young team. Predicted winner: Livermore.

Pool B — Analy-Sebastopol, Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, Arroyo, Granada

Granada has proven to be a tough team to play against this year, but winning this group will not be easy. Analy and Archbishop Mitty are both state ranked within its own divisions and Arroyo has shown itself to be pretty unpredictable. As long as they don’t kill themselves with errors, the Monarchs should advance. Predicted winner: Archbishop Mitty.

Pool C — Alhambra, Castro Valley, Foothill, Valley Christian-San Jose

Call this the ‘Group of Death.’ Foothill is the defending champion and is ranked 14th in the state by CalHiSports.com. Valley Christian is No. 9 in the state and already has a win over Foothill. Alhambra made the semifinals last year and Castro Valley is used to playing tough competition. Foothill seems to play its best when the stakes are greatest, and its greatest test comes right away against Valley Christian on Thursday morning. The winner of that game should advance to the semis. Predicted winner: Foothill.

Pool D — Carondelet, Dublin, Monte Vista, Ponderosa

This group appears to be Monte Vista’s to lose. The Mustangs had a disappointing Stampede in 2005, so the revenge factor is high. Carondelet is led by pitcher Kyle Lamet, and she’ll have to be at her best if the Cougars hope to advance to the semifinals. Dublin won its first five games but was thumped by Las Lomas on Tuesday. Ponderosa, and what little we know about them, is the x-factor. Predicted winner: Monte Vista.

I’m hoping to blog again after before the semifinals on Saturday. Those should be interesting seeing as how my diet over the next two days will basically consist of Diet coke, Doritos, Oreos and polish sausages. See ya then.

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Rain out

It was finally too much.

After four other golf tournaments in the region were able to survive the elements and play 18-holes, Mother Nature finally won a round.

The Transbay Invitational which was scheduled for Monday at Rossmoor Country Club was canceled because the course was to soggy from all the recent rain.

Acalanes coach Tim Scott said that much of Rossmoor was more ready for airboats instead of golf bags and carts.

It’s particularly frustrating for Scott, who had already order the prizes and awards. So now he is left to apply this year’s entry fee and awards for next season.

How bad have things been for golfers this year?

Ask the 20 or so teams at the inaugural Falcons Invitational on April 3 at Shadow Lakes.

The 15th hole, which is supposed to prep you for the next two holes that are surrounded by water hazards, became one itself.

In the intermittent rain, a river of water ran from halfway on the fairway all the way to the greens and right through the pin, leaving the hole submerged.

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Lacrosse hurting?

As the Duke University’s men’s lacrosse team scandal blows up to gigantic proportions, it would be interesting to see if the sport itself suffers a black eye. With everyone related to high school lacrosse calling it the fastest growing sport in America, its a wonder whether all the bad publicity resulting from this incident will have an affect on that growth. Especially here in the Bay Area, where lacrosse has been gaining steam.

Lacrosse already struggles to catch the interest of many in the U.S. outside of its loyal fan base. A criminal investigation into one of the top college lacrosse teams in the country certainly doesn’t help.

It isn’t often when lacrosse is mentioned in the pages of most mainstream newspapers, or even "Sportscenter," but now the biggest story in the sport involves criminal activity, a fraternity of players not wanting to speak and underlying race and class issues. A coach has resigned, a season has been canceled and charges still haven’t been brought involving the incident.

It’s alarming to read the reports. Hopefully the sport itself will remain unharmed.