Culture

CCS softball: How St. Francis completed a rare perfect season with an Open title


MOUNTAIN VIEW — Jessica Oakland first set her sights on a CCS championship when she was 2 years old. More recently, at the start of her junior season and her father, Mike’s, fifth at the helm of the St. Francis softball program, the team set three goals: go undefeated, win the West Catholic Athletic League, and take home the Central Coast Section championship.

Check. Check. Check.

Oakland was the catalyst of the Lancers’ powerful lineup all season long and again on Thursday to clinch the CCS Open crown in a 6-0 win over second-seeded Notre Dame-Salinas. Seven of Oakland’s 19 home runs this spring came in the Lancers’ final six games, including an opposite-field solo shot Thursday.

“Jess has grown up at St. Francis,” Mike said afterward. “She has a tremendous amount of pride for this school and being a Lancer. For her, one of her goals was to win a CCS title — just one. Now, obviously, it’s going to be more than that.”

It was a dream realized for the junior shortstop, already committed to play at the University of Minnesota, but this wasn’t the first CCS title an Oakland has delivered to St. Francis. Mike began a successful stint as the Lancers’ baseball coach when Jessica was 2 years old and eventually led the program to three CCS Open titles between 2013 and 2016.

The next year, Mike moved into the softball job and three seasons later, Jessica made the varsity squad as a freshman, alongside Sydney Stewart, who has played with Oakland since their days on a 12U team that Mike coached; it also featured Jaz Hsiao, who homered twice Thursday.

Stewart doubled home sophomore Carly Cummings in the first inning for the Lancers’ first run of the game.

Prior to first pitch, as the team huddled outside the dugout, Stewart delivered a message to her teammates.

“I’m so proud of us,” she told her teammates. “We’ve worked so hard.”

St. Francis, like the rest of California’s softball teams, lost its entire season last spring to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancers didn’t know they would get a season this spring, or what it would look like.

“We’ve come so far from practices and from last year, especially after it was taken away from us,” Stewart said afterward. “I wanted to let them know I was really proud of them and that this was going to be a special moment for us.”

Hours later, Stewart and Oakland and the rest of their teammates were in a dog pile near the pitcher’s circle celebrating a 26-0 season and a CCS title — all of their season goals accomplished.

With more home runs Thursday, Oakland (6 games) and Hsiao (4 games) finished the season with impressive streaks of consecutive games with a long ball.

“The ability to know that you can pop a ball out and score two or three runs, put up a big number just like that, it’s huge,” Mike Oakland said. “That’s the way our offense was all year. Once the fuse got lit, it was hard to put …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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