Piedmont softball mixes core of returning, new players

(Image courtesy of Piedmont Varsity Softball / @phsvarsitysoftball)

The Piedmont High School softball team has started the season by winning six of eight games, thanks to a combination of new and returning players.

“I would say we’ve been playing well,” Highlanders coach Gene Denard said. “We have been doing some good things at the right moments. We’re fast, we’re strong when we put everything together. These girls have to learn on the go, so it’s a little hard to be strategic on offense right now. For the most part the ladies are getting their swings in right now.”

Six key players are back from last year’s team. Junior Miya Fujimoto is the team’s No. 1 pitcher, but has been splitting innings with junior Angelina Wu and junior Samantha Ronen. Denard said he is looking to extend his pitchers in the near future, giving them opportunities to finish games.

Wu is also serving as the team’s leadoff hitter, starting at second base and playing shortstop as well. Senior Mia Leggett is batting second while playing third base and catcher. Fujimoto bats third and plays shortstop when not on the mound.

Sophomore Sa’mara Levi serves as the cleanup hitter and splits time with Leggett at third base and catcher. Ronen is in center field and bats fifth. Caitlin Boothby plays left field and some occasional first base.

Those six are all returning players. Batting seventh is junior first baseman Sophena Tuli. She is one of five newcomers.

The other four new players rotate into the lineup: twin junior outfielders Eunice and Cyntiche Kouadio, junior outfielder Sabrina Olliphant, and freshman outfielder Kajsa Benson.

The Highlanders are 6-2 entering their April 3 game at Encinal. All but one of the games have had mercy rule margins. The one close game came on March 25 when Piedmont defeated visiting Oakland Tech, 5-4. The Highlanders allowed the Bulldogs to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, then rallied for two on a Fujimoto triple in the bottom of the inning to score the win. Wu and Leggett were aboard after back-to-back bunt singles.

Wu got the win, pitching the final three innings and allowing the run on two hits. She also went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Angelina Wu (left) and Caitlin Boothby in 2023. Both players returned for the current season.

Piedmont opened the season with a 17-6 win on March 7 at De Anza. The Highlanders scored 10 runs in the top of the seventh to break open a close game. Fujimoto went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Leggett went 2-for-3 with four runs scored and two RBI. Levi was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run. Ronen was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Fujimoto started and went four innings, allowing three runs but no hits. Wu went the final three, allowing three runs on one hit.

On March 13, Piedmont defeated Elite-Vallejo, 16-0 in a game shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule. Wu and Fujimoto combined on a two-hitter. The Highlanders got just four hits and drew 14 walks. Ronen hit a two-run homer and knocked in four runs while scoring four herself.

On March 19, Piedmont lost at Salesian, 15-1 in five innings. The Highlanders managed just three hits on the day. Wu doubled and scored the lone Piedmont run. DeAmor Coleman went the distance for the win. Fujimoto took the loss, allowing 13 runs on four hits and seven walks in 2 1/3 innings. Dakota Harrell went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.

On March 22, the Highlanders lost at home to Berkeley, 19-0. Addison Davis threw a five-inning no hitter for the Yellowjackets, striking out four and walking one. Oona Capristo went 2-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored for Berkeley. Camden Bernhard was 3-for-4 with two doubles, four RBI and two runs scored. Elisa Highton went 2-for-4 with three RBI and three runs. Charlotte Kurre-O’Heaney was 2-for-3 with four RBI. Wu took the loss, allowing 12 runs on seven hits in two innings.

Denard said the Berkeley game was a key for the team in the early season.

“We played our first league game against Berkeley and we didn’t do too well,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. I didn’t foresee that. It was kind of humbling. It kind of lit a fire under the girls.”

Since then, Piedmont has won four consecutive games. The Oakland Tech game started the streak. That was followed by an 11-0 win at Tennyson on March 26.  Ronen, Wu and Fujimoto combined on a five-inning no-hitter.  Wu and Fujimoto each went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI.

On March 28, the Highlanders won 15-3 at San Lorenzo in five innings. Piedmont got 11 walks and six hits. Ronen went 1-for-1 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBI. Wu was 1-for-1 with three runs scored and three walks.

On April 1, the Highlanders got 11 runs in the first inning en route to a 19-1 win over visiting Healdsburg in a five-inning game. Fujimoto and Wu combined on a one-hitter. Fujimoto went the first three, allowing no runs, no hits and one walk while striking out six. She also went 2-for-2 at the plate, driving in four runs and scoring twice. Leggett was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBI. Tuli went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.

One thought on “Piedmont softball mixes core of returning, new players

  1. Great to see softball coverage! I hope individual games get more space and photos going forward. A link to the schedule would be a nice touch.

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