Owls turn around softball program in 1 year

Shelly Bowers/Special to the Town Crier
The Foothill College softball team reached the finals of the Northern California Super Regionals earlier this month. The Owls went 36-8 this season and won the Coast Conference North Division.

In one year, Foothill College went from having no softball team to having one of the best in the state.

The Owls – who had to cancel their 2016 season due to a lack of players – advanced to the finals of the Northern California Super Regionals earlier this month.

“We’re all thrilled with the success the softball team has had this season,” said Mike Teijeiro, athletic director at the Los Altos Hills community college. “I’m proud of our coaches and student-athletes for the hard work and sacrifices they’ve made to re-establish the Foothill softball program.”

The Owls went 36-8 overall, won the Coast Conference North Division with a 12-2 record and nearly made it to the state final four.

Foothill, rebounding from an opening-round loss, won its next two games of the double-elimination Super Regionals to face defending champ College of San Mateo in the May 14 finals.

That’s where the host Bulldogs ousted the Owls 4-1 behind ace Madison Mercer, who had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. Foothill freshman Mirella Osuna put an end to that, hitting a single that scored sophomore Corena Gregorio. Two Owls remained on base, but Mercer got the next batter to ground out to end the game and propel the Bulldogs into the final four.

The previous day, Foothill shut out Taft 5-0, thanks to the pitching of Victoria Pierucci (four-hit complete game) and timely hitting by fellow sophomores Sharona Mataele and Mariko Kondo (two RBIs each).

A few hours later, the Owls squeaked by Sierra 4-3, avenging a 4-2 loss to the Wolverines a day earlier. Trailing 3-1 after five innings, Foothill scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to pull out the victory. Mataele finished with two hits (home run and double) and two RBIs, as did Regina Quezada (double and single). Pierucci picked up the win, allowing two earned runs and five hits over seven innings.

Although their season ended the next day, it’s hard to argue that the Owls didn’t exceed expectations this year.

Foothill played the season with only 11 players (including Mountain View High graduates Juliette Morizur and Nicole Nakahama) and lacked the experience of perennial power San Mateo (37-8), a team the Owls finished ahead of in the Coast Conference standings.

Teijeiro attributed much of Foothill’s success to the coaching staff.

“Our head coach Haley Woods and assistant coach George Marshall worked tirelessly in the off-season to recruit student-athletes who are competitive in the classroom and on the field,” he said. “The coaching staff has really done a great job of implementing a culture of competition, learning, and fun, and it’s shown in the teams success this season.”

Woods, founder and director of the Cal Nuggets softball club, could not be reached for comment. Teijeiro expects her to return next season, however, and lead Foothill to another successful season.

“I feel the future is bright for Lady Owls softball,” he said. “We have a dedicated young coach who is a diligent recruiter with experience at the highest levels of softball, we’ve installed one of the finest softball facilities in the state and Foothill College is one of the highest-rated academic two-year colleges in the country.”

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