How Hercules softball team is averaging nearly 20 runs per game

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SOFTBALL: RUNS? NOT A PROBLEM FOR HERCULES

The Hercules softball team has a motto that defines its identity:

You can’t win if you don’t score.

The Titans live, eat and breathe their motto. They are averaging 19.3 runs per game and have a run differential of plus-59. As a team, Hercules is batting .398 and has an on-base percentage of .580.

After beating Richmond 15-5 on Wednesday, Hercules is 7-3-1 overall and 5-0 in the Tri-County Athletic League Stone Division.

The Titans have a real shot of winning their first league title in school history.

“Ninety percent of our practice is batting,” co-head coach Dianna Talley told the Bay Area News Group. “We do two hours of all batting drills and that’s how we get so many runs.”

The Titans don’t exactly have a lineup that hits an absurd number of extra-base hits, including home runs. Instead, they played a style that would make former Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane proud.

Hercules High softball head coach Chad Decker, right, talks with his players after their win against Richmond High at Hercules High School in Hercules, Calif., on Wednesday, March 27, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Hercules softball co-coach Chad Decker, right, talks with his players after the team’s win over Richmond on Wednesday. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Hercules doesn’t have a home run and has recorded just 23 extra-base hits this season. The Titans have walked 96 times in nine games — 65 more than the national average, according to MaxPreps — and stolen 80 bases in 85 attempts.

“I just try to take my opportunities when I can,” said sophomore Bella Placencia, who leads Hercules with a .647 batting average. “Once we get on base, we can steal and work from there.”

Given that the Titans lack experience in the pitching circle, scoring a high amount of runs is crucial.

The coaching staff converted two position players into full-time starting pitchers, and the defense remains a work in progress.

Hercules gives up 12.7 runs per game.

“We know we have to be respectful and humble,” Placencia said about being careful to not run up the score. “We could be on the other end of a high-scoring game any day.”

– Nathan Canilao

BASEBALL: SRV’S TWO-SPORT STARS DOING IT AGAIN

San Ramon Valley's Julian Cambra (27) scores at home plate on a sacrifice fly ball hit by teammate Marco Jones (25) in the sixth inning of their North Coast Section Division I playoffs quarterfinals at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Calif., on Friday, May 19, 2023. San Ramon Valley defeated Berkeley 3-1. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
San Ramon Valley’s Julian Cambra scores on a sacrifice fly by Marco Jones in an NCS playoff game last season. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

San Ramon Valley has jumped out to a 4-1 record in East Bay Athletic League play, and the Wolves’ hot start is being led by their well-rounded athletes.

After starring for the school’s football team that went 10-3 and spent the entire season ranked in the Bay Area News Group’s Top 5, Luke Baker, Julian Cambra and Marco Jones are thriving on the diamond.

Baker, once committed to Santa Clara University’s baseball program before accepting a scholarship to play QB at Sacramento State, has a .391 batting average.

Jones has offers from around the country to play linebacker at the next level, but the junior is a fine baseball player, too. He’s hitting .400 and leads the team with 11 RBIs.

And Cambra has gone from offensive line to hitting line drives, batting .308 with eight RBIs and four doubles.

– Joseph Dycus

SOFTBALL: ST. FRANCIS JUGGERNAUT ROLLS ON

SARATOGA -  St. Francis pitcher Kate Munnerlyn throws a pitch. St. Francis and Hollister played in a CCS Open Division high school softball game at West Valley College in Saratoga Calif. on Saturday May 27, 2023. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)
St. Francis pitcher Kate Munnerlyn has been a big reason for the Lancers’ hot start this season. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

St. Francis was denied a Central Coast Section Open Division three-peat and back-to-back NorCal Open titles by Hollister last season.

After graduating key contributors, the Lancers looked like they might take a slight step back.

To the rest of the CCS and regions’ chagrin, the Mountain View powerhouse has proven that it is still the team to beat. The Lancers are 9-0 and have outscored opponents 80-9.

Like in previous years, it’s not just one player who is carrying the team.

Reigning West Catholic Athletic League player of the year Jaime Oakland is batting .577 as a sophomore, and ace pitchers Shannon Keighran and Kate Munnerlyn are also batting .500 and .480, respectively.

Munnerlyn, the 2023 Bay Area News Group player of the year, has a 0.24 ERA. Junior Hayden Hummel leads the team with five home runs.

— Joseph Dycus

BASEBALL: WOODSIDE’S TRENT AMOROSO PENINSULA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET

Trent Amoroso does it all for Woodside.

The 5-foot-10 junior has a 2.33 ERA and threw a no-hitter against Mission-San Francisco two weeks ago. He gets it done with the bat, too, as he leads Woodside in on-base (.578) and slugging percentage (.617).

After playing nine games with the junior varsity team last season, Amoroso was brought up to varsity midseason. He has already matched the total number of hits he had on varsity in 2023 and brought his batting average up from .318 to .441.

— Nathan Canilao

BASEBALL: COLLEGE PARK’S SMOOTH, STEADY SHORTSTOP

With rain pouring upon and cold winds whipping around College Park’s baseball diamond, Falcons shortstop Vincent “Tino” Vassel made the high-pressure situations look as if he were doing pregame warmups.

Vassel successfully fielded all seven balls hit his way despite the poor conditions, totaling three putouts and four assists in College Park’s 3-2 victory over No. 10-ranked Heritage in extra innings.

“He fields every ball like it’s routine,” teammate Trent Lanza said.

Vassel has successfully fielded 98% of chances this season, and his glove turned what could have been RBI singles into groundouts against Heritage.

“I like Francisco Lindor, because he’s so smooth,” Vassel said when asked to name his major league idol. “I’m a fan of the Giants, though. The A’s got bad, so I had to bandwagon a little bit.”

– Joseph Dycus

BASEBALL: BERKELEY’S GROWING PAINS MIGHT HELP IN LONG RUN

Berkeley coach Curtis Sandeford knows he has something special with this year’s group of players, but acknowledged there are going to be some bumps in the road.

The Yellowjackets (5-4) have wins against two of the best teams in Northern California – Cardinal Newman and St. Mary’s-Stockton, both ranked among the Top 50 teams in California by MaxPreps.

But on the other hand, Berkeley has dropped games against teams with losing records, notably against Bear Creek (5-7) and San Leandro (3-9). The Yellowjackets also lost their first league game on Wednesday, 13-2 loss at home against Alameda.

“We hope we’ll do better going forward,” Sandeford said after the loss to Bear Creek on Saturday. “We’re going to be OK. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the team right now. … We just have to be consistent every time we get on the field. Everyone’s trying to beat us right now, so we just have to continue playing at a high level.”

Outfielder and right-handed pitcher Quinton Hill has been among Berkeley’s standouts. The freshman is batting .308 and has a 1.40 ERA through nine games this season.

– Nathan Canilao

FOOTBALL: MONTE VISTA RB COMMITS TO WASHINGTON

Monte Vista's Julian Mcmahan (29) rushes against Amador Valley in the 2nd quarter, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Pleasanton, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Monte Vista’s Julian McMahan runs the ball against Amador Valley in a game last season. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Monte Vista running back Julian McMahan committed to Pac-12 champion and national runner-up Washington earlier this week. The Danville standout became the third commit in Washington’s 2025 class.

He told 247Sports that from his conversations with the coaches, including running backs coach Scottie Graham, he “just knew that Washington was the right place for me. There was no reason for me to wait any longer.”

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