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February 2, 2023

Big Shoes to Fill

Departing Live Oak takes its competitive girls programs to the
BVAL, leaving Alisal and Alvarez a tough act to follow in TCAL
By Ana Patejdl and Scott Campbell Sports Editors

When it came to girls’ sports in the Tri-County Athletic League, Live Oak was pretty tough to beat. But now that the Acorns and the Sobrato Bulldogs are leaving the league for the Blossom Valley Athletic League, how will the competition change on the girls’ side with Alisal and Alvarez coming in for the 2006-2007 season? Here’s a look at each of the major girls’ sports:

Basketball

Alisal in ’05-’06: 13-12 overall, 8-2 in MBL (2nd place)

Alvarez in ’05-’06: 2-21 overall, 2-8 in MBL (5th place)

Gilroy in ’05-’06: 23-5 overall, 12-0 in TCAL (1st place)

San Benito in ’05-’06: 11-15 overall, 4-8 in TCAL (T for 5th)

Of all the girls’ sports, basketball looks like it might be the least affected by the arrival of Alisal and Alvarez.

Last season, Live Oak and Sobrato finished in the bottom half of the league. Meanwhile, Alisal and Alvarez step in their place. Alisal took second to Seaside in the MBL, while Alvarez was able to win just two games.

“It’s actually going to be pretty even. Pretty comparable as far as … quality of team,” said San Benito head coach Al Rowe. “It’s a pretty even trade.”

The ‘Balers usually schedule Alisal for a non-league game. But the two teams also met two years ago when the stakes were much higher in the playoffs. The ‘Balers took down Alisal in a thrilling CCS opener in overtime.

Last season, Gilroy defeated Alisal pretty handily the two times the teams faced each other. Game 1 went 68-35 to the Mustangs and Game 2 finished in similar fashion, with Gilroy winning 62-39.

Both Gilroy and San Benito will play rival Live Oak in the preseason.

“I feel bad not playing Live Oak because it’s been so many years, so I set up a preseason game,” Rowe said.

Softball

Alisal in 2006: 3-16 overall, 2-12 in MBL (last place)

Alvarez in 2006: 15-9 overall, 13-2 in MBL (1st place)

Gilroy in 2006: 15-10 overall, 6-6 in TCAL (3rd place)

San Benito in 2006: 29-3 overall, 10-2 in TCAL (2nd place), CCS Division I champion

If there’s one girls sport that the TCAL is known for, it’s girls’ softball. This past season, the league sent four teams to the CCS playoffs and produced one section champion in a young San Benito team.

And it could be argued that softball was Live Oak’s best girls’ sport. The Acorns won a CCS title in 2005 and made it to the Division II playoffs again this year before losing to eventual champion Archbishop Mitty.

So are area teams leery of letting Alisal and Alvarez join the TCAL softball fraternity?

Nope. Bring it on, they say.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Gilroy head coach Catherine Hallada. “I like new competition. It’ll be fun. And as far as I’m concerned, bring ’em on and we’ll do fine.”

Said San Benito head coach Scott Smith, “I don’t think two public schools going and two public schools coming is going to change anything. I think the only way to impact our league at all is…if Notre Dame was in a private school league. Until it’s an all-public school league, it’s not going to change.”

Although Alisal is generally regarded as the school with stronger sports programs, Alvarez might take the cake in softball. The Eagles were the MBL league champs and finished 15-9 overall after losing to eventual Division I runner-up Watsonville in the first round of the CCS playoffs.

“As far as Alvarez coming in, they’re going to be very tough,” said Smith, who noted that the Eagles have a tough returning pitcher. “They’re going to fill in for Live Oak very well next year.”

Soccer

Alisal in ’05-’06: 13-4-3 overall, 12-0 in MBL (1st place)

Alvarez in ’05-’06: 8-8-2 overall, 7-5 in MBL (3rd place)

Gilroy in ’05-’06: 8-7-5 overall, 7-2-3 in TCAL (2nd place)

San Benito in ’05-’06: 4-13-3 overall, 0-10-2 in TCAL (last place)

To put in nicely, Gilroy and Live Oak always had a “healthy” rivalry in girls’ soccer. This past season, the Mustangs were finally able to come out on the winning end in the final meeting between the two teams.

But now a new rivalry with Alisal could be formed.

Two seasons ago, the Mustang faced the Trojans three times, winning every match. But the last meeting was particularly competitive.

“Let’s just say there were some raw feeling there,” laughed Gilroy head coach Jose Hernandez, who described the game as “controversial.”

Only the upcoming season will tell if those competitive juices will carry over into league play.

Alisal will enter the league as the two-time defending MBL champs, having gone undefeated in ’05-’06 and splitting with North Monterey County in ’04-’05. But, as Hernandez pointed out, Gilroy beat North Monterey County 6-0 that year. Alvarez finished this past season third place in league.

For better or for worse, the addition of Alisal and Alvarez means both Gilroy and San Benito will play two more games on turf.

Volleyball

Alisal in 2005: 20-9 overall, 9-1 in MBL (1st place)

Alvarez in 2005: 3-14 overall, 1-9 in MBL (last place)

Gilroy in 2005: 8-19 overall, 4-8 in TCAL (5th place)

San Benito in 2005: 36-6 overall, 12-0 in TCAL (1st place), CCS Division I runner-up

Like in soccer, Alisal will enter the TCAL this season a league champion. But the Trojans will be hard pressed to match up with San Benito, which went to the Nor-Cal Tournament after taking second in the Division I CCS playoffs.

“(Alisal and Alvarez) seem as though they’ve always been competitive teams,” said Gilroy head coach Sue Grogan. “Majority seem to be competitive, steady players.”

Last season, Live Oak and Sobrato did not field freshmen teams due to lower enrollment. This year, Grogan is looking forward to having her teams play Alisal and Alvarez, which do have freshmen squads.

“It was kind of disappointing for the freshmen last year because they didn’t have a lot of freshmen games,” Grogan said. “That’s our base.”

This past season, Gilroy lost to Alisal twice and beat Alvarez once. San Benito did not face either school..

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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