I spent 26 years writing for the Tri-Valley Herald as a prep sports reporter/editor. In all those years, there were certain events I loved to cover because of the quality of the athletes and teams.
State basketball and state track were two of them, and I had the honor and pleasure to see many a great athlete play, whether they were on their way to the NBA or Olympic glory.
One other annual event was the Livermore Stampede softball tournament that took place during spring break each year. It had the best teams not just in the North Coast Section, but all Northern California.
Each year, the girls who walked away with the title set themselves up as the team to beat in the upcoming postseason. Sometimes the winner was local, other times they came from the South Bay. The Sacramento area was also well represented.
Your winning team of this year's event? The Foothill girls softball team.
The Falcons went 5-0 in the 16-team field, allowing only three runs in the five games.
Foothill opened the pool play portion of the tournament with a 3-0 win over a traditionally strong Alhambra program. Nicole May went the distance in the circle, allowing only one hit and striking out 11.
Courtney Beaudin and Ally McElory each hit a home run to pace the offensive attack.
Game 2 saw the Falcons thump Dougherty Valley 11-1. Maddie Heinlin pitched the entire game, giving up an unearned run and allowing only two hits. Foothill pounded out 11 hits, with Beaudin once again hitting a home run. May and Amanda Mero had two doubles each.
The final pool-play game was a 6-2 win over Whitney. May, who went the distance again, was touched for six hits and a pair of home runs, but she also struck out 14 and had no walks.
May and Hope Alley each had a home run and combined for five hits.
In the semifinals Foothill beat Livermore 4-0, with May allowing only two hits and striking out eight. May, Ellen Ebbers and McElroy each had homes, with Emma Chandler adding a double.
Waiting in the finals was Sheldon out of the Sacramento area and its UC Davis-bound pitcher. But it was the Falcons, riding the arm and bat of Oklahoma-bound May to the tournament title.
May homered for the lone run, as well as went the distance in the circle, allowing three hits and striking out 13.
In the last inning, Sheldon had two runners on with one out, but May struck out two straight to end the game to secure the 1-0 victory.
The Falcons co-hosted the Big O Classic tournament during spring break and came home with the title in the eight-team field.
The teams in the tournament were Acalanes, Campolindo, Carlmont, Foothill, Livermore, Napa, San Marin and Santa Rosa. Foothill went 3-0 to claim the title.
The Falcons pounded out 22 hits in the tournament, led by four from Cory Steinhauer. The team also scored 20 runs in the three games with Joseph Scalzo, Tommy Scavone and Sam Zevanove driving in three runs each.
Foothill used nine pitchers in the tournament, allowing only six runs. Jake Gebb and Josh Anderson were the top pitchers.
High school hockey
The Pure High School Hockey League season kicked off on Monday, and there is a full slate of game for this weekend.
The schedule for the weekend is:
Saturday: Danville vs. Cal (4:45 p.m.), Livermore/Dougherty Valley vs. Monte Vista (6:30 p.m.) and Amador Valley vs. De La Salle (8:15 p.m.).
Sunday: Danville vs. Livermore/Dougherty Valley (9:45 a.m.), Dublin vs. Granada (11:30 a.m.), Foothill vs. Monte Vista (4:15 p.m.), Cal vs. Amador (6 p.m.) and De La Salle vs. Dublin (7:45 p.m.).
All games are played at the Dublin Iceland.
The Dons took three straight the week starting March 21 to continue their strong season.
First was a 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 win over Cal. Will Sadler, Luke McFall and Brent Werder were excellent at the net. Sawyer Brookhart contributed excellent serving.
Next up was a 25-19, 25-17, 25-13 win over De La Salle. Outstanding play came from Andrei Rekesh, setter Jacob Kim, McFall and Brookhart.
Finally, the Dons beat Livermore 25-15, 25-15, 25-13. Inspiring play by senior Micah Kiang keyed the Dons. There was also great serving by Taylor Melendrez and Nolan Gill.