NCS Softball: 2A Championship

Alright, Ben Enos back here on the blog. Simply put, Albany was a team of destiny this season. They won games they shouldn’t have, they won close decisions, they got contributions from everyone on the roster. After beating Heritage easily yesterday, they got punched in the mouth by Concord early today and the Cougars showed tremendous resolve to come back and get the win. Big, big performance by Nicole Presher to come in and pitch the Cougars out of trouble. Here’s the plan. I’m going to take a few minutes off and I’ll be back to set the lineups for the 3A championship between Freedom and California. 

Concord 8th: Hasson hits a shot to third, but a great defensive play by Smithers knocks it down and she gets her at first. 1 out. Mayorga then drills a grounder to the right side, but Meagan Tokunaga dives to her left, catches the ball, gets up and her throw just beats Mayorga at first. Final play of the game, little tip out in front of the plate is caught by a diving Cousens (catcher). GAME OVER. ALABANY IS YOUR 2008 NCS East Bay 2-A Softball champions!!!!!!!! Just shows, the defense, does in fact, win championships. Defensive letdowns cost Concord, and Albany’s final inning was as good a defensive display as anyone will ever see at the high school level. Congratulations to Albany. 

Note- Gotta feel for the Concord players right now, it should have been celebrating an NCS title right now. But now they’ll have to push across a run here in the bottom of the 8th to just tie it back up.

Albany 8th: Smithers to lead off. Another error by Concord (grounder to 2B) plagues the Minutemen. Smithers is on first with no outs and Hannah Kramer up to bat. This is turning into a nightmare for Concord. Kramer hits a little bloop into the hole, there was no play at first, but Cavestany throws anyways and the ball gets by Cuthberton at first allowing the runners to advance. 2nd and 3rd, no outs for Meagan Tokunaga. Tokunaga strikes out. Joan Cannon up to bat. INFIELD WAS NOT IN. Simple ground ball to SS scores a run, Cavestany had no play at home. Albany is now up 7-6. Cousens grounds out, but the damage is done. Albany 7, Concord 6

Concord 7th:  Ground out and a fly out start the seventh and Albany has all the momentum. Concord looks shocked. Grounder to 2nd, no problem. We’re heading to extras.

Albany 7th:  Shawna Robb comes off the bench and into the circl. She starts it off by striking out Joan Cannon. 2 outs from an NCS title for Concord.  Cousens walks and Albany has something to work with. A drooping line drive to Cavestany, but she can’t hang on. 1st and 2nd for Nicole Preshner. If Cavestany caught that ball, she had an easy double play at first and this game would be over. Preshner singles up the middle to score a run. An error in center allows runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd. 1 out, with Amaya Fernandez up with a chance to give Albany the lead. She crushed a ball, but it was well foul. We have a tie game. A little dribbler to the pitcher was thrown back to the plate, the runner from second went to third and the runner on third couldn’t go home. All Concord had to do was walk the ball to third, but instead, Mayorga throws the ball by third base and a runs comes in to score. Concord had this game wrapped up, but three errors have cost them. Have to wonder what Willis was thinking going away from Elder after she had pitched so well. Albany 6, Concord 6.

Concord 6th: Mayorga leads off with a fly out, snappying the 4-inning streak where the lead off hitter reached base, but Aguirre singles for Concords 11th hit. Elder walks, 1st and 2nd for Cuthbertson. She hits a grounder to short, Aguirre is tagged out, but Cuthbertson makes it to first. Still 1st and 2nd, now for Ciarlo with 2 away. She flies out and we go to the top of the seventh. Concord 6, Albany 4.

Albany 6th: Elder strikes out Khan to start the top of the sixth. Smithers singles up the middle for Ellie Arkin, who comes up next as a pinch hitter. Arkin grounds out to third, but Tokunaga comes up with Smithers at 2nd. She grounds out as well and Albany will have three outs to score at least 2 runs next inning. Concord 6, Albany 4

Note- Freedom players have been spotted what appears to be sour-patch kids.  

Concord 5th: Elder becomes the latest Concord leadoff hitter to get on to start an inning with an infield single, in the hole at short. Cutheberton hits into a fielders choice, Elder forced out at second, SS-to-2B. Ciarlo walks, 1st and 2nd for Leah Hennessy. Wild pitch moves the runners over. Hennessey pops up a ball, then runs into the first basemen, causing her to drop the ball. Interference is called, 2 outs. Vuylsteke walks on four pitches, loading the bases for Cavestany. She bloops a ball over first base to score two runs. On the throw to the plate, Vuylsteke moves to third, Cavestany to second. A ground out by Hasson ends the inning. Concord 6, Albany 4.

Albany 5th: Cousens leads off with a double. Laura Cannon ripped a ball down the left field line….. just foul. Then she smashed a line drive to center, but right at the CF. 1 out, no chance to tag.  Elder gets a 3-pitch strike out and Fernandez comes up. GREAT PLAY ALERT! Fernandez hits a groundball, it bounces off the 3B, but SS Lea Cavestany goes to the ball, falling down she throws to first, it short hops first, but 1B Cuthberton picks it clean for the third out. WOW! Concord 4, Albany 4.

Concord 4th: Leah Cavestany is leading off. She rips an opposite-field double to left center, the third straight leadoff hitter to get on for Concord. Cavestany is gunned down trying to steal second by catcher Maddie Cousens. Hasson grounds out to SS and we may be looking at a desperately needed easy inning for Albany. Maybe I spoke too soon, Marrisa Mayorga hits a choppher to third and beats it out for an infield hit. Aguirre hits a spinner to short and is thrown out. Concord 4, Albany 4.

Albany 4th: Hannah Kramer leads off with a groundout to bring up Tokunaga, she grounds out to short. A weak grounder back to Elder makes it 3-up, 3-down. Concord 4, Albany 4.

Concord 3rd: Well that didn’t take long, Elder takes a monster hack and drives a never-in-doubt homer to left center. And we’re tied at 4. Jannice Cuthbertson hit a ground ball to short, threw the SS’s legs, bringing Anglea Ciarlo up to the plate. A nasty change up from Preshner Ks Ciarlo and the next hitter, Leah Hennessy lays down a bunt to sacrifice Cuthbertson to second base. A wild pitch (and I do mean wild) lets Cuthberton advance for Katie Vuylstenke. She flies to left and we head to the fourth. Concord 4, Albany 4.

 Albany 3rd: Leading off is Meagan Tokunaga. She hits a sharp grounder to third, the throw is there, 1 away. Joan Connon singles to left center to bring Maddie Cousens to the plate. Wow, a wild pitch lets Cannon move all the way to third. Cousens singles through the left side, its now 3-1 Concord. Concord coach Jerry Wills wants to talk about it, calling time. Laura Cannon comes up and rips a double to left center and the Cougars are now a run away from tying it back up. Willis has seen enough, he calls on Brianna Elder to take over in the circle. Nicole Preshner hit a rocket up the middle, off Elder and is aboard. The official scorer rules it an error, could have gone either way. So here comes Amaya Hernandez, with runners on first and third. Hernandez gets the job done with a chopping ball to first … we’re tied at 3. With Sabina Khan up, a ball in the dirt allows Preshner to get to third…. Khan’s at bat goes 13 pitches before she falling singles up the middle, scoring Preshner and the top-seed has its first lead of the game. Concord finally get out of the inning and will now play the come-back role. Albany 4, Concord 3.

Kyle Bonagura taking over for Ben now: Alright, after some car trouble getting here, I’m coming out the bullpen to relieve Ben for the rest of this game.

Concord 2nd: Due up for the Minutemen are Angela Ciarlo, Leah Hennessey and Katie Vuylsteke. Ciarlo hooks a lofted fly down the left field line and off the wall for a double. I thought it might have a chance to get out for a second. Hennessey is up and she’s trying to bunt. Nicole Presher has begun to throw in the Albany bullpen. Hennessey singles up the middle and now there are runners on the corners with no outs. Vuylsteke is up. Hennessey steals second uncontested and a groundout by Vuylsteke to third scores Ciarlo. Presher has entered the game now, down 3-0. Doesn’t get started the way they hoped, walking Lauren Hasson. A deep fly ball is tracked down, but Concord has a runner on this now with two outs and Pricilla Aguirre up. She grounds out and the inning is over. Concord 3, Albany 0

Albany 2nd: Up this inning for the Cougars are Amaya Fernandez, Sabina Khan and Krista Smithers. The Cougars are on their heels a little right now. Fernandez picks up where she left off yesterday, singling to LF. Khan grounds to Cavestany and that’s a fielder’s choice at 2nd. Khan is now on at 1st with one out and Smithers up. Smithers bunts (great bunt) and Khan goes to second. Hannah Kramer is now up with Khan at 2nd and 2 outs. Hasson uses the rise to strike Kramer out and end the inning. Concord 1, Albany 0. 

Concord 1st: Lea Cavestany leads things off against Albany pitcher Sara Muse. She hits a grounder up the middle and Meagan Tokunaga makes a nice backhand play for the out. Swung at the first pitch of the game. Lauren Hasson is next. She pops up to Laura Cannon at SS. Up next is Marissa Mayorga and she strokes a single to left. That brings Priscilla Aguirre to the plate and Mayorga advances to 2nd on a wild pitch. Aguirre walks and that brings Brianna Elder up with two on and two out. Elder smacks a single to center, plating Mayorga and sending Aguirre to third. Elder goes to second when Joan Cannon throws home. Jannice Cuthbertson grounds out to Laura Cannon and we’re through one inning. Score: Concord 1, Albany 0.

Albany 1st: Joan Cannon leads off with a fly out to center field. Maddie Cousens is next and she grounds out to Lea Cavestany at SS. Laura Cannon is hitting third and she smokes a line drive single to CF. That brings up Nicole Presher and Hasson gets her to chase a rise ball. Albany 0, Concord 0.

Noon: Albany did a cool thing in their infield warmups. The Cougars each took a handfull of dirt and sprinkled it on the field. I can only imagine the dirt is from Memorial Field in Albany. Very cool. Albany will be visitor today. 

Well, I’m the lone ranger right now so I’ll do a bit of updating as best I can. We’re doing lineups right now. It looks like the pitching matchup will be Albany’s Sara Muse against Concord’s Lauren Hasson. Sophomores battling it out. Back in a few.


NCS Softball 3-A and 2-A East Bay Title Game Predictions

NCS 3-A East Bay: No. 7 California vs. No. 1 Freedom

BOWER: I would have taken Freedom no matter who they played in the championship game today. I haven’t seen California this year so I can’t really compare the two. But I have seen Freedom, and I know how good the Falcons and Hannah Williams are. I also think Freedom already got its shocking loss out of the way at the end of the regular season. That one was to Clayton Valley. My pick: Freedom.

BONAGURA: Over the past seven years, Freedom is 24-1 in NCS games, the lone loss came to Cal in last year’s quarterfinals. All year long Cal has been on the cusp of being an upper echelon team (top-4) and finally got through Foothill after losing to the Falcons twice during the year. Williams is obviously the game’s “name” player, but Cal’s roster is easily just as talented and pitcher Krista Miller is good. Foothill had scored 44 runs in its previous four games before being held to 1 by Miller on Friday. Cal also features a slew of good hitters in Miller, Jamie Foley, Mariah Nisbet, Brittany Wright and Stephanie Hatley. Pick: Cal.

NCS 2-A East Bay: No. 1 Albany vs. No. 3 Concord

BOWER: I haven’t seen either team in person, but I will use my American right to make a prediction, if that is OK with everyone? My colleague, Ben Enos, over at the CCT has tabbed Albany as the team to beat all season long. And after reading about the way Albany has been playing, I can’t imagine them not winning the title. My pick: Albany.

BONAGURA: I haven’t seen either team, either…. Concord is 15-2 over its last 17, Albany has won 20 in a row, so there definitely can be arguments made for both teams. However, I’m going with Albany as well.


NCS softball blog, live from UC Berkeley

I’ve got great news for all softball fans. I will be joined by the Tri-Valley Herald’s Kyle Bonagura at tomorrow’s NCS 2A and 3A East Bay championship games at Levine-Fricke Field at Cal. Kyle will be on the blog for the 2A game, Albany vs. Concord (I’ll be covering the game for our print edition and chiming in occasionally). I’ll jump into the captain’s chair for the 3A game, Freedom vs. California (Kyle will cover the game for the print edition). Check back here for updates throughout the day. Also, I’ll try to get my thoughts on tomorrow’s games up tomorrow morning just like I’ve been doing throughout the playoffs. So, check for that before you head to Cal.


NCS softball: Albany 12, Heritage 3

As promised, I figured I’d give some insight from today’s game at Memorial Field in Albany. As it turns out, I wasn’t full of myself when I said earlier this year that this Albany team is for real. They proved it in a big way today.

Heritage is a good team that had a bad day. You could tell that the Patriots got a little shell-shocked when the Albany offense just came coming at them. There was no letting up in that Cougars lineup. They hit well from one through nine and really put on a clinic at the plate.

Here’s my stat of the day. The 2 through 5 hitters for Albany (Maddie Cousens, Laura Cannon, Nicole Presher and Amaya Fernandez) combined to reach base 17 of the 20 times they came to the plate. Fernandez was 4-for-4 with a walk and four RBI to lead the group.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a toughness award from today’s game. Heritage catcher Lauren Townsend took a foul ball to the throat in the seventh inning. She stayed down for a few minutes, got up and walked around, and then got back in the crouch to finish the game. Boys and girls, you take a foul ball in the throat, you know it. I have nothing but respect for that young lady tonight.

So, tomorrow we head to Levine-Fricke Field at Cal for the 3A and 2A title games. Albany will play Concord in the 2A final at noon and California takes on Freedom at 2:30 in the 3A final. I’ll be there. You should too.


NCS scores list

I’m right on deadline so I’ll have my impressions of the Heritage/Albany game (12-3 Albany wins) later but for now, here are today’s scores.

Albany 12, Heritage 3
Concord 3, BOD 2 (9 inn)
California 3, Foothill 1
Freedom 5, James Logan 2

Northgate d. Albany (score n/a yet)
El Cerrito 4, Alhambra 2
Piedmont 6, St. Mary’s 5
Livermore 2, Irvington 1
College Park 3, Monte Vista 0


Piedmont over St. Mary’s 6-5

I don’t have any details yet, but word is Piedmont has beaten St. Mary’s 6-5. I can’t say I’m surprised, obviously since I picked Piedmont to win. It’s just so hard to beat a fellow good team three times in one season.

Anyone with further details, feel free to chime in.


Livermore over Irvington

Just got back from a thriller in Livermore…..

 Through 5 1/2 it was Irvington 1, Livermore 0, then the fireworks began.

 Tanner Laran singled to open up the sixth and Brett Christopher was called on to bunt him over. Only Christopher missed the bunt and Laran was caught way off the base. The Irvington cather had him dead at first so he took off for second, the Irvington first baseman went to sweep-tag and didn’t realize Laran headed for second. By the time he turned around he couldn’t get him at second.

Christopher then procedes to go yard to left center (barely over the fence) to give Livermore a 2-1 lead.

Top 7: Silvernale singles for Irvington and with 2 outs, Brittley Tringali rips a ball in the R-C gap. Everyone thought he was going to score no problem, but RF Laran picked up the ball, hit J.R. Graham at short and he gunned down Silvernale (easily) at the plate to end the game.

 One of the best HS games I’ve ever seen.