The 10th annual tournament was rained out April 4, but 52 teams of an original field of 85 competed Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, at the Tracy Sports Complex and other fields around town.
It’s the first time Tracy has won its bracket, capping its undefeated weekend with a 3-0 victory over Elk Grove on Saturday.
Teams from West and Kimball High both went 2-2 in the platinum bracket, which played its games at the Tracy Sports Complex.
Millennium went 1-2 in silver-bracket games, which were played at Kimball High and at Veterans Park.
Tracy High coach Greg Smith, who has been involved in the Nor Cal Classic since it began in 2004 as a 16-team event, was impressed with the Bulldogs’ four straight wins that culminated in a 3-0 defeat of Elk Grove 3-0 in the title game.
“These are all playoff-caliber teams,” Smith said. “It’s almost like a preseason playoff tournament.”
The platinum bracket included 12 teams angling to repeat 2012 trips to the postseason. The four other teams in the bracket lead their leagues going into the final month of the regular season.
Charlie Pikas, who helped create the tournament 10 years ago when he was the softball coach at West High, remains the tournament director. He said his goal was to the make this year’s platinum bracket the most competitive yet.
“I probably put this year’s platinum bracket against any that we’ve had,” said Pikas, who is now the athletic director of Pacheco High in Los Banos. “You’re playing essentially two playoff games each day for two days.”
Tracy senior first baseman Angela Mariani said the win shows what the team will bring to the diamond as it returns to San Joaquin Athletic Association play.
“Our bats were alive this weekend and we hit the ball well. We were unstoppable,” Mariani said. “If we keep this up, we could go very far in playoffs.”
Mariani batted .500 for the tournament and was one of Tracy’s all-tournament selections. Also earning all-tournament honors were junior outfielder Ellie Fisher and junior pitcher Tayler Misfeldt.
Misfeldt gave up one earned run over 19 innings and struck out 20 batters as Tracy (13-4, 5-1 SJAA) shut out three of four opponents.
“It would be nerve-wracking, but I knew I could do it,” Misfeldt said. “We came out and my whole entire team did what we needed to do. This is the best competition we’ve ever faced as a team, so to come out with the biggest award is really rewarding.”
Tracy blanked Hughson 10-0 in Saturday’s semifinal game, scored a 6-0 win over Tokay on Friday, and defeated Atwater 8-2 in the tournament opener.
The Wolf Pack (12-5 overall) tallied seven hits to the Hughson Huskies’ four in the third-place game Saturday, but errors contributed to two unearned runs for the Huskies and a 4-2 loss for the ’Pack.
Senior Samantha Asbra singled and doubled, sophomore Shelby Weeks singled twice, and seniors Celena Carrisosa and Rikki Kirchefer both hit RBI singles. Freshman pitcher Janae Sims went four innings for the loss.
Carrisosa said it was a tough way to finish the tournament, but West is ready to bounce back.
“Our next step is to get ready for playoffs,” she said, “and that’s what the tournament is doing for us.”
Earlier Saturday, Elk Grove’s Thundering Herd beat West, 2-1, scoring the winning run on an infield error with two outs.
West defeated Ceres 8-3 and beat Orestimba 5-1 on Friday.
The Jaguars finished the Nor Cal Classic with an 8-1 win over Orestimba High on Saturday.
The Jaguars (10-5, 2-2 Valley Oak League) launched a five-run rally in the second inning and got three more runs in the third on junior Llesenia Torres’ bases-loaded triple. Torres had three base hits, junior Amanda Riley singled twice and batted in two runs, and junior Danielle Lallos tripled and drove in a run.
Riley pitched all five innings for the win and gave up six hits. She the team needed to finish on a winning note.
“I felt like these last two games gave us the push we needed to do well in the VOL,” she said.
Kimball also beat Atwater 4-2 on Saturday, but lost 7-4 to Clovis and 3-2 to Hughson on Friday.
The Falcons wrapped up silver bracket play with a 10-4 loss to Beyer High of Modesto Saturday at Veterans Park.
Seven hits for the Falcons (8-4, 2-0 Central California Athletic Alliance) included three for junior Gabrielle Ramirez, and freshman Elisa Dias had two hits and batted in two runs. Freshman Amy Wise pitched two innings, gave up three hits and two runs and got the loss
The Falcons won 3-2 over Patterson on Saturday morning.
The Falcons opened the tournament with a 9-4 loss to the Johansen Vikings of Modesto on Friday.
Rain reshuffles powerhouse-packed tournament
After a one-day rainout, the 52 teams in the 10th Nor Cal Classic softball tournament got in two full days of softball at the Tracy Sports Complex and other fields in town.
For some teams in the truncated tournament, played Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, the competition was a possible preview of the postseason.
Others had a chance to measure themselves against teams they wouldn’t normally face.
The platinum bracket included 12 teams looking to repeat 2012 trips to the postseason. The four other teams in the bracket lead their leagues going into the final month of the regular season.
Charlie Pikas, who helped found the tournament 10 years ago when he was the sophomore coach at West High and is still tournament director, originally had 85 teams signed up to play from April 4 through April 6 at the Tracy Sports Complex, West and Kimball high schools, and Veterans and Clyde Bland parks.
But he had to do a little shuffling among the brackets after Thursday’s rain-out.
Two varsity teams withdrew, and he dropped the entire 31-team sophomore division in order to get in four games each for most varsity teams.
Most of the teams came from the Sac-Joaquin Section. Elk Grove coach Jeff Alexander said the platinum bracket was as close to a preview of the SJS Division I playoffs as his team is likely to see in pre-league play.
“It was a good tournament to come down and see where you stack up,” he said.
Other teams faced opponents they wouldn’t normally see.
The Millennium Falcons, an SJS Division VII team, played in the silver bracket on Friday and Saturday against teams from higher divisions. The Falcons lost to Division I Johansen of Modesto, 9-4, on Friday, beat Division IV Patterson 3-2 on Saturday, and lost to Division I Beyer of Modesto 11-4 on Saturday.
“It's better competition, because it pushes us and shows us what we need to work on,” said Millennium junior catcher Gabrielle Ramirez. “It really was an eye-opener.”
The team that traveled farthest was the Kelso High Hilanders from Kelso, Wash., a town of about 11,000 along Interstate 5 just north of the Columbia River. The Hilanders went 1-3 for the weekend in the gold bracket, finishing with an 8-1 win over Rio Vista Saturday at West High.
Kelso coach Dean Sorenson said the team wanted to get in at least one road trip this year.
“We love playing different teams,” he said. “We butt heads with the same teams up north.”
He said the biggest difference was the effect the weather had. In Washington, rain is common this time of year, so only a big storm will force a rain-out.
“On Thursday we could have played a couple hours after that rain, because the ground soaks up the water,” he said. “We were surprised we didn't play, because a lot of times we play in muddy conditions, or even in the rain.”
n Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.