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St. Francis beats Archbishop Mitty


SARATOGA – St. Francis’ incredibly talented softball team looked merely mortal for much of the Central Coast Section Open Division title game on Saturday.

The Lancers normally stellar pitching was a bit off. It even gave up a two-run lead in the fifth inning. There were errors on routine flyballs in the outfield and whiffs on hittable pitches.

Everything lined up for a monumental Archbishop Mitty upset. 

And yet, St. Francis still won the section’s highest division with a 7-2 victory. In the process, the Lancers avenged last season’s stunning loss to Hollister, a result that denied the Lancers a three-peat. 

“This is what we’re supposed to do,” pitcher Kate Munnerlyn said after St. Francis improved to 28-0. “We were supposed to win last year, too, honestly. We came out and got our redemption, or our get back.”

The win cemented coach Mike Oakland’s St. Francis teams of the past four years as a CCS dynasty and the 2024 team as one of the section’s all-time greatest. 

Not only did the unbeaten program from Mountain View roll through the West Catholic Athletic League, but it also won the prestigious Michelle Carew Tournament against top-notch SoCal competition. 

Their ever-stoic coach Oakland, the architect of a Lancer softball juggernaut that rarely changes expression while watching the game from the dugout, was all smiles when right fielder and daughter Jaime Oakland jumped into his arms. 

“We got one, kid,” Oakland said as he wrapped Jaime in a bear hug. 

While Jaime was still in middle school when her father won the second of back-to-back section crowns with older sister and future Minnesota superstar Jessica, Munnerlyn and Shannon Keighran were already sophomore starters.

Both the 2024 and 2022 teams were dominant, but went about winning in different ways.

The 2022 champions were built upon raw power, with the Lancers hitting 55 home runs in a 26-0 post-COVID season that didn’t include NorCal play. They then followed that up by hitting 58 bombs in Jessica Oakland’s senior year  of 2022 as the team went 31-2 and won both CCS Open and NorCal titles. 

This year’s Lancers still have plenty of power (38 HRs), but are headlined by top-notch pitching in Munnerlyn and Keighran, who combined have a 0.84 ERA. 

Combined with an outfield and infield devoted to playing defense at a high level, the ace of the pitching staff believed the 2024 Lancers have an edge on the 2022 edition. 

“When it comes to this kind of game where the wind is blowing in, this team is way better at controlling the game,” Munnerlyn said.

“They’re both great in their own right,” Mike Oakland said. “You know, our pitching was the same as it was in 2022, with the difference there that they’re two years older and just better and more experienced.”

Hayden Hummel broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run double, and then Mitty’s Lindsey Miller responded with a two-run double of her own in the top of the fifth to tie it at 2-2. 

“They’re well coached and are great athletes,” said Mitty coach Megan Yocke about her opponent.

Yocke’s Monarchs are expected to play in NorCal, and should have star sophomore shortstop McKenna Woliczko back after she returns from training with Team USA basketball.

Senior Rebecca Quinn put Saint Francis back on top in the bottom of the frame, and Oakland scored when Munnerlyn beat out the throw to first on a dropped third strike with two outs. Quinn drove in a couple more and Isabella Sandoval drove in an RBI to cap the scoring.

“Even when they tied it up, I knew we were fine,” Jaime Oakland said after she went 2 for 4 and scored three runs. “We still had a couple of innings left, and we were going to get calmed down and under control.”

Only three games stand between the Lancers and 31-0 and a NorCal Open Division title. Munnerlyn and Jaime Oakland echoed their coach, who said the team will enjoy the section title, and then will be focused on taking their season one home game at a time. The Lancers should be the top seed in regional play.

“I probably won’t see her for a couple of weeks, but when I do, I’ll definitely brag about this to her,” Jaime Oakland admitted when asked about joining her older sister in the NorCal champion club. 

While Mike Oakland said the possibility of an undefeated season hasn’t even crossed his mind, he was more than happy to speak about why winning the section title was so special for him. 

“This is awesome. With my older daughter, our goal was to win one and we were fortunate to win two,” Oakland said. “And then I really wanted to win one with Jaime, so this is special.”

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