Sports

Stampede part of Livermore softball heritage

28th tournament starts Thursday, draws from all over NorCal

Livermore High's softball team poses for a thank you ad for Livermore Stampede's title sponsor, Rich Hill. (Contributed photo)

The East Bay Athletic League has always been one of the top leagues athletically in the North Coast Section.

Through the years, the success has been cyclical – some years are up, and some are down. One sport seems to standup to just about any other – softball.

The EBAL is good, usually very good when it comes to softball. Since the current NCS format has gone to six divisions in 2009, the EBAL has won seven Division I titles, finished second two other times, and has dotted the NCS semifinals.

Simply, it’s an elite league and this year seems to be the same with Granada and Livermore the two best teams, not just in the EBAL, but possibly all NCS.

Part of the heritage of local softball scene is the annual Livermore Stampede. Thursday brings the start of the 28th edition of the tournament out at the Ernie Rodrigues Softball Fields out by Robertson Park.

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As usual, the tournament is bringing some of the elite teams from Northern California. In addition to EBAL teams Livermore, Granada, Foothill, Monte Vista, Carondelet and Dublin, powerhouses like Archbishop Mitty (San Jose), Sheldon (Sacramento), St. Francis (Mountain View), Whitney (Sacramento), College Park, Benicia, Freedom, Liberty, Castro Valley, Heritage, and Liberty will take part.

The idea for the Stampede came when former Livermore coach Charlie Foscalina and his assistant Teresa Stavert had the Cowboys playing in a tournament in the Central Valley.

Unhappy with the tournament staff, the duo floated the idea of starting a tournament in Livermore.

“A couple other teams in the tournament told us if we started a tournament, they would come to it,” said Foscalina, who has the Stampede Most Valuable Player trophy named after him. “They were unhappy with the tournament as well.”

And boom – the Stampede was born.

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“It was a fundraiser for us,” explained Foscalina. “I wasn’t going to do cookie sales, so Stavert said, 'let’s start a tournament.'”

The very competitive Foscalina wasn’t going to stack his tournament with weak teams to guarantee a win for Cowboys.

“It has always had ridiculously good teams. We have good relationships with many of the top programs.”

-Toff Garcia, Livermore Stampede coordinator

“I lined up the teams,” said the now 82-year-old Foscalina. “I went out and tried to get all the best teams from each of the leagues.”

It is still that way 28 years later.

Toff Garcia is in his 6th year of running the tournament and knows the talent level of the tournament.

“It has always had ridiculously good teams,” said Garcia. “We have good relationships with many of the top programs.”

Garcia is entering tournament week with his fingers crossed that the event goes off without a hitch. In the five previous years he has run the event, they had one great year, two that were interrupted by rain, and two that were lost to COVID.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Garcia.

Garcia says each year there are two to four teams that don’t come back the next year, usually because of the talent of the field.

“We had Bishop Manogue come one year,” said Garcia of the Nevada traditional power from Reno. “They went 0-5 and didn’t come back.”

Foscalina confirmed teams dodge the Stampede.

“There were some teams that just would not come,” said Foscalina. “The teams we had were too good.”

One other problem is the juggling spring breaks in the high school world. Of the 16 teams in the tournament, 10 of them will be in school this week, forcing the tournament to use a secondary field at Junction Avenue School in Livermore to make it as easy as possible to manage school schedules the tournament.

“It does make it tougher,” said Garcia of bringing the scheduling together.

The weather looks great for the week and come Thursday the vast amount of softball talent will take to the fields.

“Every year we have 30-50 players committed to play in college the next season,” said Garcia.

The tournament has seen some legendary softball players come through the tournament.

Livermore itself had two of the best pitchers I saw come through the tournament in Jen Graver and Heather DeMuth.

The most incredible tournament in Stampede history had to be in 2007.

Mitty brought superstar Keilani Ricketts and Foothill had its own powerhouse in Val Arioto. The two would go on to team together for the United States National team, as well as lead their college teams to the College World Series.

The teams met for the championship in 2007 with Mitty and Ricketts getting the 5-4 win. It was one of the best high school games I ever saw, in any sport.

Ricketts later led Oklahoma to a World Series title and was a two-time NCAA Player of the Year. Arioto was an All-American at Cal-Berkeley and led the Bears to a school record 58 wins in 2012 and a spot in the College World Series.

In 2012, Ricketts was NCAA Player of the Year and Arioto was the runner-up.

Foscalina still marvels at Arioto, arguably the best hitter to ever play in the Stampede.

“I have seen a lot of good players and programs,” said Foscalina. “I never saw a girl like (Arioto) that could hit the ball. She just pounded it.”

In the 28 years since the Stampede began, I have had the honor to cover maybe 15 of them. The legacy of the tournament is not just the level of the talent on the field, but the people behind the tournament as well.

In the early years of the event, the maintenance of the fields was handled by a group that came to be known as “The Chalk Boys.”

The group of volunteers that came to the tournament with matching shirts, rushed on to the two fields after a game, quickly dragging and re-chalking the fields.

At times it got to be as much of an attraction as the teams.

“The Chalk Boys - that was a lot of fun in those days,” said Foscalina.

Also, a major part of the history of the tournament is Marilyn Foscalina, Charlie’s late wife. Passing away three years ago, Marilyn had the 25th annual Stampede named in her honor.

“Those were special years that I got to coach with my wife,” said Charlie. “That was special to have the tournament named after her. It’s great to see it is still going so strong as it took a lot of years to build it.”

For more information on the Stampede or to keep up on the brackets, visit the website at www.lhsstampede.com.

Sign up for Tri-Valley Preps Playbook, a free weekly e-newsletter that covers high school sports around the Valley, at pleasantonweekly.com/express/sports/.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, APRIL 7

Ernie Rodrigues Fields

Field 1

* 11 a.m.: Dublin vs. Granada

* 1 p.m.: Benicia vs. Granada

* 3 p.m.: Monte Vista vs. Liberty

* 5 p.m.: Livermore vs. Liberty

* 7 p.m.: Freedom vs. St. Francis

Field 2

* 11:15 a.m.: Foothill vs. College Park

* 1:15 p.m.: Heritage vs. Dublin

* 3:15 p.m.: Heritage vs. Benicia

* 5:15 p.m.: College Park vs. Archbishop Mitty

* 7:15 p.m.: Whitney vs. Archbishop Mitty

Junction Avenue School

*3 p.m.: Carondelet vs. Freedom

*5 p.m.: Carondelet vs. Castro Valley

FRIDAY, APRIL 8

Ernie Rodrigues Fields

Field 1

* 9 a.m.: Livermore vs. Monte Vista

* 11 a.m.: Sheldon vs. Monte Vista

* 1 p.m.: Sheldon vs. Liberty

* 3 p.m.: Dublin vs. Benicia

* 5 p.m.: Livermore vs. Sheldon

* 7 p.m.: Heritage vs. Granada

Field 2

* 9:15 a.m.: Whitney vs. College Park

* 11:15 a.m.: Whitney vs. Foothill

* 1:15 p.m.: Freedom vs. Castro Valley

* 3:15 p.m.: St. Francis vs. Castro Valley

* 5:15 p.m.: St. Francis vs. Carondelet

* 7:15 p.m.: Archbishop Mitty vs. Foothill

SATURDAY, APRIL 9

Ernie Rodrigues Fields

Final schedules

Field 1

* 11 a.m.: Bronco Flight Final (9th place)

* 3 p.m.: Stampede Flight Final (5th place)

* 7 p.m.: Championship Flight Final (1st place)

Junction Avenue School

* 12 p.m.: Round-Up Flight Final (13th place)

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Stampede part of Livermore softball heritage

28th tournament starts Thursday, draws from all over NorCal

by Dennis Miller / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 10:56 am

The East Bay Athletic League has always been one of the top leagues athletically in the North Coast Section.

Through the years, the success has been cyclical – some years are up, and some are down. One sport seems to standup to just about any other – softball.

The EBAL is good, usually very good when it comes to softball. Since the current NCS format has gone to six divisions in 2009, the EBAL has won seven Division I titles, finished second two other times, and has dotted the NCS semifinals.

Simply, it’s an elite league and this year seems to be the same with Granada and Livermore the two best teams, not just in the EBAL, but possibly all NCS.

Part of the heritage of local softball scene is the annual Livermore Stampede. Thursday brings the start of the 28th edition of the tournament out at the Ernie Rodrigues Softball Fields out by Robertson Park.

As usual, the tournament is bringing some of the elite teams from Northern California. In addition to EBAL teams Livermore, Granada, Foothill, Monte Vista, Carondelet and Dublin, powerhouses like Archbishop Mitty (San Jose), Sheldon (Sacramento), St. Francis (Mountain View), Whitney (Sacramento), College Park, Benicia, Freedom, Liberty, Castro Valley, Heritage, and Liberty will take part.

The idea for the Stampede came when former Livermore coach Charlie Foscalina and his assistant Teresa Stavert had the Cowboys playing in a tournament in the Central Valley.

Unhappy with the tournament staff, the duo floated the idea of starting a tournament in Livermore.

“A couple other teams in the tournament told us if we started a tournament, they would come to it,” said Foscalina, who has the Stampede Most Valuable Player trophy named after him. “They were unhappy with the tournament as well.”

And boom – the Stampede was born.

“It was a fundraiser for us,” explained Foscalina. “I wasn’t going to do cookie sales, so Stavert said, 'let’s start a tournament.'”

The very competitive Foscalina wasn’t going to stack his tournament with weak teams to guarantee a win for Cowboys.

“I lined up the teams,” said the now 82-year-old Foscalina. “I went out and tried to get all the best teams from each of the leagues.”

It is still that way 28 years later.

Toff Garcia is in his 6th year of running the tournament and knows the talent level of the tournament.

“It has always had ridiculously good teams,” said Garcia. “We have good relationships with many of the top programs.”

Garcia is entering tournament week with his fingers crossed that the event goes off without a hitch. In the five previous years he has run the event, they had one great year, two that were interrupted by rain, and two that were lost to COVID.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Garcia.

Garcia says each year there are two to four teams that don’t come back the next year, usually because of the talent of the field.

“We had Bishop Manogue come one year,” said Garcia of the Nevada traditional power from Reno. “They went 0-5 and didn’t come back.”

Foscalina confirmed teams dodge the Stampede.

“There were some teams that just would not come,” said Foscalina. “The teams we had were too good.”

One other problem is the juggling spring breaks in the high school world. Of the 16 teams in the tournament, 10 of them will be in school this week, forcing the tournament to use a secondary field at Junction Avenue School in Livermore to make it as easy as possible to manage school schedules the tournament.

“It does make it tougher,” said Garcia of bringing the scheduling together.

The weather looks great for the week and come Thursday the vast amount of softball talent will take to the fields.

“Every year we have 30-50 players committed to play in college the next season,” said Garcia.

The tournament has seen some legendary softball players come through the tournament.

Livermore itself had two of the best pitchers I saw come through the tournament in Jen Graver and Heather DeMuth.

The most incredible tournament in Stampede history had to be in 2007.

Mitty brought superstar Keilani Ricketts and Foothill had its own powerhouse in Val Arioto. The two would go on to team together for the United States National team, as well as lead their college teams to the College World Series.

The teams met for the championship in 2007 with Mitty and Ricketts getting the 5-4 win. It was one of the best high school games I ever saw, in any sport.

Ricketts later led Oklahoma to a World Series title and was a two-time NCAA Player of the Year. Arioto was an All-American at Cal-Berkeley and led the Bears to a school record 58 wins in 2012 and a spot in the College World Series.

In 2012, Ricketts was NCAA Player of the Year and Arioto was the runner-up.

Foscalina still marvels at Arioto, arguably the best hitter to ever play in the Stampede.

“I have seen a lot of good players and programs,” said Foscalina. “I never saw a girl like (Arioto) that could hit the ball. She just pounded it.”

In the 28 years since the Stampede began, I have had the honor to cover maybe 15 of them. The legacy of the tournament is not just the level of the talent on the field, but the people behind the tournament as well.

In the early years of the event, the maintenance of the fields was handled by a group that came to be known as “The Chalk Boys.”

The group of volunteers that came to the tournament with matching shirts, rushed on to the two fields after a game, quickly dragging and re-chalking the fields.

At times it got to be as much of an attraction as the teams.

“The Chalk Boys - that was a lot of fun in those days,” said Foscalina.

Also, a major part of the history of the tournament is Marilyn Foscalina, Charlie’s late wife. Passing away three years ago, Marilyn had the 25th annual Stampede named in her honor.

“Those were special years that I got to coach with my wife,” said Charlie. “That was special to have the tournament named after her. It’s great to see it is still going so strong as it took a lot of years to build it.”

For more information on the Stampede or to keep up on the brackets, visit the website at www.lhsstampede.com.

Sign up for Tri-Valley Preps Playbook, a free weekly e-newsletter that covers high school sports around the Valley, at pleasantonweekly.com/express/sports/.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, APRIL 7

Ernie Rodrigues Fields

Field 1

* 11 a.m.: Dublin vs. Granada

* 1 p.m.: Benicia vs. Granada

* 3 p.m.: Monte Vista vs. Liberty

* 5 p.m.: Livermore vs. Liberty

* 7 p.m.: Freedom vs. St. Francis

Field 2

* 11:15 a.m.: Foothill vs. College Park

* 1:15 p.m.: Heritage vs. Dublin

* 3:15 p.m.: Heritage vs. Benicia

* 5:15 p.m.: College Park vs. Archbishop Mitty

* 7:15 p.m.: Whitney vs. Archbishop Mitty

Junction Avenue School

*3 p.m.: Carondelet vs. Freedom

*5 p.m.: Carondelet vs. Castro Valley

FRIDAY, APRIL 8

Ernie Rodrigues Fields

Field 1

* 9 a.m.: Livermore vs. Monte Vista

* 11 a.m.: Sheldon vs. Monte Vista

* 1 p.m.: Sheldon vs. Liberty

* 3 p.m.: Dublin vs. Benicia

* 5 p.m.: Livermore vs. Sheldon

* 7 p.m.: Heritage vs. Granada

Field 2

* 9:15 a.m.: Whitney vs. College Park

* 11:15 a.m.: Whitney vs. Foothill

* 1:15 p.m.: Freedom vs. Castro Valley

* 3:15 p.m.: St. Francis vs. Castro Valley

* 5:15 p.m.: St. Francis vs. Carondelet

* 7:15 p.m.: Archbishop Mitty vs. Foothill

SATURDAY, APRIL 9

Ernie Rodrigues Fields

Final schedules

Field 1

* 11 a.m.: Bronco Flight Final (9th place)

* 3 p.m.: Stampede Flight Final (5th place)

* 7 p.m.: Championship Flight Final (1st place)

Junction Avenue School

* 12 p.m.: Round-Up Flight Final (13th place)

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