The 2014 high school softball season will kick into gear for many local teams this weekend at the Queen of the Mountain tournament. One of the state’s best early-season tournaments — now in its 32nd year — starts Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Pleasanton Sports Park. The championship game is 5 p.m. Saturday. Another reason to be excited — warm weather with no rain in sight.
There will also be some great teams and exceptional players. The tournament includes two teams ranked in Cal-Hi Sports’ preseason state top 25 and two more on the bubble. That group is headlined by three-time defending tournament champion Amador Valley, which is No. 3 in the state and No. 7 in the nation in preseason rankings and features five college-committed seniors.
California High, ranked No. 10 in the state and led by standout pitcher Lindsey Chalmers, is on the other side of the bracket from Amador Valley. Cal High is part of one of the more intriguing opening-round games of the tournament. The Grizzlies face Rocklin, which has six college-bound players and made a deep run in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs last season.
Not to look too far ahead, but Amador Valley vs. Alhambra has the potential to be a second-round matchup very much worth the price of admission. The best pitcher in the area — Amador Valley’s Johanna Grauer — would face one of the very best hitters — Alhambra shortstop Kylee Perez. The travel ball teammates are both headed to UCLA. Their senior seasons are also off to fantastic starts. Grauer tossed a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts against Deer Valley in her opener, while Perez homered and drove in four runs as Alhambra beat defending NCS Division II champion Concord 12-0.
Other locals teams that could make some noise at Queen of the Mountain — Castro Valley, Clayton Valley, Newark Memorial, Livermore and Freedom.
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students. For the complete tournament bracket, schedule, rosters and other information visit www.queenofthemountain.org
(And shout out to tournament director Julie Marshall for the excellent web site packed with great information)