Alameda-Berkeley softball

So I made the long trek from my apartment in Walnut Creek to Alameda (it’s definitely not the nicest ride in terms of traffic) for today’s Alameda-Berkeley softball game and man, I’m glad I did. It was a nine-inning thriller and the host Hornets came out on top, beating Berkeley 1-0 on an RBI single by Lacey Parodi.

A few things that won’t make it into tomorrow’s story because of space. Alameda’s Jill Yastishak and Berkeley’s Sarah Neuhaus were absolutely stellar in the circle all day long. Yastishak showed tremendous courage pitching through a nagging elbow injury that had her reaching for the ice bag between innings. Neuhaus was equally impressive, only allowing two hits over nine innings.

I guess what struck me most was the overall high level of play that was on display. There were only two errors in the entire game and both teams made play after play to keep things scoreless for eight innings. Even the game-winning play was well executed. The throw beat Alameda runner Megan Averitt but got away from Berkeley catcher Katie Wishnoff just enough so that Averitt could reach back and touch home.

So, I say bravo to both Alameda and Berkeley for playing the best softball game I’ve seen in person yet this year. And guess what? We could see it again down the road because, if both teams win out, they would have to play a one-game playoff on May 17 to determine the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League champion.


Coming Thursday: All-East Bay Basketball teams

The All-East Bay Basketball teams will be released on Thursday in the Oakland Tribune, Daily Review, Fremont Argus and Tri-Valley Herald. The players of the year, coaches of the year as well as first, second and third teams are voted on by the combined staffs of the above-mentioned papers and take into account all schools within the East Bay.

I’m not going to tell you who we picked (you have to wait for Thursday for that), but why don’t you throw out some guesses on who you think the players and coaches of the year will be. You can even go all the way and try to select the five first-teamers we picked. Or you can just wait and see what we come up with when it’s released Thursday. We’ll also be posting a slideshow online from our player of the year photo shoot, which was done at Oakland’s F.M. Smith Park on Park Blvd.


American baseball season over

American athletic director Steve Kline confirmed Tuesday that the baseball team (both varsity and JV) will forfeit the remaining three games of the season _ all Mission Valley Athletic League games.

That will give the Eagles a final overall record of 7-16 and a 3-9 MVAL mark.

Until the forfeits (varsity), the Eagles were in the hunt for one of the four MVAL playoff berths.


NFL-bound East Bayers

Dennis Dixon — San Leandro — Oregon — Pittsburg (5th round)
Josh Johnson — Oakland Tech — Univ. of San Diego — Tampa Bay (5th round)
Kyle Wright — Monte Vista — Miami — Vikings (FA)
Cameron Colvin — DLS — Oregon — 49ers (FA)
Robert Jordan — Hayward — Cal — 49ers (FA)

No word on Sam Keller (SRV, Nebraska) yet.


O’Dowd Baseball Gets Big Win

I guess it wouldn’t be the Hayward Area Athletic League if Bishop O’Dowd wasn’t at the top of the standings…or so it seems.

 The Dragons have won or at least shared the past six HAAL titles and it finally seemed like the run was going to come to an end in early March. That’s when Arroyo pasted the Dragons 13-2 and it really wasn’t even that close.  The Dons were on a completely different level at the time.

But on Friday was the second meeting between the two at O’Dowd’s short-porched field. And this time the Dragons matched the intensity of Arroyo with a seven-run flurry against Alex Jack in the bottom of the first inning. And then it was Game On!

Both teams played pepper with the 325 foot fences and runs were coming across quickly. There would eventually be a combined five home runs in the game, including two by O’Dowd’s Ryan Walterhouse. And after all the damage, it was the Dragons (9-1) still standing with, perhaps, a post-season saving 13-12 eight-inning victory to move them into a first-place tie with Arroyo (9-1)

The win was huge! Now O’Dowd is in prime position to capture at least a share of the HAAL crown for a seventh straight season and _ more importantly _ the league’s automatic North Coast Section 3-A playoff berth.

The Dragons entered the game clearly needing the win more than Arroyo. I don’t have the team’s overall records in front of me, but the Dragons struggled in non-league play and would have had a tough time arguing for an at-large berth into the NCS playoffs without the win over Arroyo.

Meanwhile, Arroyo had a great non-league season and is a lock to get a spot in the 16-team field without the automatic berth.

Everyone knew going in that O’Dowd wouldn’t just roll over for Arroyo. After all, the Dragons have held down the first-place spot for six seasons. These kids don’t want to be labeled as the team that ruined The Streak.

I give both teams a ton of credit for showing some real heart and ability to battle back against adversity. Arroyo’s ace Alex Jack was shockingly knocked out in the second inning, but the Dons continued to rip the ball around the yard in an effort to outslug the Dragons.

And what can you say about O’Dowd? What a great effort. Four fielding errors and I think it was four different pitchers and they still answered every rally that Arroyo threw at them. O’Dowd never got down after a mistake and that might be the key to its turnaround.

While it was an exciting game to watch, I am hoping these two teams don’t have to play in the first round of NCS. I like to see the league get a chance to show its strength against the other leagues first.


Proposed new NCS football divisions

The North Coast Section Board of Managers approved a proposal Friday that will alter the format of the NCS football playoffs. The new playoff system will get rid of the separate tournaments for the East Bay and Redwood Empire schools. It will also eliminate the familiar 4A, 3A and 2A classifications and assume a format of five enrollment-based divisions that are similar to those used in basketball.

Here’s a look at the five proposed divisions.


Upset city!

It was only a matter of time before the Campolindo softball team got it together and pulled an upset and today was the day as the Cougars knocked off College Park 5-3 for a DFAL upset today. Lindsey Quock picked up the win as the starting pitcher for Campo and Jordan Blumberg-Long got a save. Sophie McCarthy hit another home run for Campo (she could possibly be leading the universe in home runs) and went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Taylor Gatti went 2-for-4 and scored two runs and Rose Fruci added a 2-for-4 day with a run scored.

Over in the BVAL, Antioch finished a tough week with a 6-2 loss to Carondelet. That’s a big win for the Cougars, who have been looking for some momentum all year. Bailey Rose got the win for Carondelet and Tylyn Wells went 2-for-4.

Over in the EBAL, there were no big surprises. Foothill beat California 10-4 to maintain its lead in the standings. There’s something in the Pleasanton water because the Falcons are absolutely mashing the ball right now. Katelyn LaRussa hit two home runs to lead Foothill.


CIF Football to stay in Carson

This won’t make tomorrow’s paper because it’s been a busy day around here but the California Interscholastic Federation announced today that the CIF State Football Bowl Series will stay in Carson at the Home Depot Center for 2008 and 2009.

The 2008 season will be the debut of the five-division series after the CIF used three divisions for 2006 and 2007. The email that the CIF sent out said that the divisions have yet to be finalized (they should be determined in mid-May according to the email) but that it has been recommended that there be one “open” division that pits the top team from Northern California against the top team from Southern California.

Speaking from my one-year experience at the Home Depot Center, I’m glad they came to an agreement to stay there. It’s a nice venue and I think it’s just about the right size for an event like this. There was a good crowd for the De La Salle-Centennial game and I think they’ll continue to draw well.


Arroyo baseball after first outright HAAL title in 30 years

Outside of Bishop O’Dowd, baseball in the Hayward Area Athletic League hasn’t gotten much respect around the East Bay. And maybe it is rightfully, so. But this year, I expect Arroyo to get to at least the semifinals of the North Coast Section 3-A playoffs.

The Dons are certainly a lock for a spot in the 16-team field in the 3-A bracket. But Arroyo is thirsting for something else at the moment _ its first outright league title since 1978.

Arroyo has shared the league title many times since 1978, but haven’t had the crown for themselves in 30 years.

 Right now the Dons are a perfect 8-0 and with Bishop O’Dowd (7-1) up on Friday, Arroyo has a shot to move in prime position to capture the title outright. The Dragons have had at least a share of the crown for the last six years, and certainly won’t go down easily.

O’Dowd is at risk of missing the 3-A playoffs with a loss to Arroyo Friday. The last time these two met Arroyo breezed to a 13-2 victory and it wasn’t even that close. The Dons had a 10-run lead by the second inning and annihilated O’Dowd pitching.

But you never know what can happen in that little yard over at O’Dowd. The problem for the Dragons will be trying to score off Arroyo ace Alex Jack. The big left-hander has been phenomenal this season and is fielding offers from colleges at the moment.  He already has offers from St. Mary’s and Loyola Marymount.

The other problem for the Dragons is how to cool off the hot-hitting Dons. Arroyo, 1-9,  can smash. The Dons even have a couple kids that can come off the bench and hit lasers. The team is probably as deep as I have ever seen a team out of the HAAL the past three years. I got a feeling something special is going to happen with the Dons. But only time will tell. Can’t wait for the postseason!