California Interscholastic Federation, CIF, Culver City High School, Culver High Centaurs, girls softball, high school softball, Los Angeles, Samohi Vikings, Santa Monica High School, softball, Southern California
The site of the Santa Monica vs Culver City softball game which I attended and enjoyed.
CHECKING OUT A SOFTBALL GAME FEATURING TWO HIGH SCHOOLS WHICH I HAVE A PERSONAL HISTORY WITH
Sometime in April, 1986 (I think).
I was on the coaching staff of the JV softball team at Santa Monica High School, where I had graduated from ten months before; I hadn’t even reached my 19th birthday!
Our Vikings had a fairly big non-league game against nearby Culver City High’s Centaurs on our home field at Memorial Park, a place where I did everything sports and baseball/softball related – play Little League and coach – except live there.
It was a VERY foggy afternoon, so much so that for a couple of the middle innings the outfielders couldn’t be seen!
That didn’t stop the game from being quite the exciting one, as Samohi (the first two letters of Santa, Monica, and High), staged quite the comeback in the last inning.
Being the third base coach that day, I don’t remember how many runs we scored, but I do vividly remember that we had the bases loaded with two outs and the winning run on second base.
Everyone was going nuts at the anticipation of triumphing over our Westside rivals in a walk-off fashion – until our batter, who had struck out on three pitches every time she batted and looked bad doing so, stepped up to the plate.
I definitely won’t mention her name; as I saw her come up and it was all I could do to make my reaction of “Oh, no!” not too overt.
To no surprise as she was by far the worst hitter on Samo’s team, Culver City’s pitcher struck her out on three pitches yet again and we lost 8-7 (I believe that’s what the score was).
Naturally that young girl was devastated as her teammates consoled her, but I couldn’t help thinking as the two teams shook hands that it was a great game.
Fast Forward 31 Years…
Since a prominent goal of mine for this site/blog is to cover sports that are not normally covered on other sports sites such as Fansided and Bleacher Report,
And since high school softball is certainly a sport that you won’t find (besides MaxPreps.com) on Yahoo or MSN’s pages,
I thought it would be extremely cool to check out a game featuring the school I graduated from (Samohi) vs the school that not only was around the corner from where I live (Culver City), but was also part of the district where I had once worked as an elementary school P.E. teacher.
In short, it was the school that educated me vs the school from the district that once paid me.
Which was the prominent thing in my mind as I journeyed to Culver High’s softball facility one recent afternoon to see the Centaurs and the Vikings, who were now in the same league, get it on.
As someone who had coached softball for roughly twenty years, mostly at the youth level although I was able to serve on the coaching staff at a private school in 2007 (One of our games that year was against Culver High on that same field!), I felt like the wise old sage as I arrived at the diamond, watching the two teams warm up.
One thing I noticed was how young many of the coaches were, particularly on Santa Monica’s team as they didn’t look like they were more than five years older than the players. There was a Culver coach who fit that same bill; as she was hitting grounders I couldn’t help thinking, “Gee, she looks like the kids.”
Not that I had any problem with that of course, as you have to start your coaching career somewhere; the fact that I started on that path at 19 with Samo’s JV team as well as Little League was crystal clear proof of that.
I was impressed with Culver’s softball field as it was groomed very nicely with a smooth outfield.
And it was a more than decent-sized crowd, which included a group of folks sitting in lawn chairs down the left field line that looked quite comfy, that gathered to watch the battle that windy day, as Samohi and Culver High had become decent rivals in sports – softball in particular as the two teams have finished one-two in the Ocean League for I don’t know how long – on Los Angeles’ Westside.
Being an old coach, I found myself thinking like a scout as I watched the game unfold, analyzing things and reckoning about what I would do in the situations that came up.
I was impressed by the players on both sides; one girl I noticed was Samo’s pitcher, a senior left-hander named Kennedee Jamerson who threw hard and was headed to Cal State Northridge on a scholarship who did not disappoint as she struck out quite a few Centaur batters.
I was told that another one of Samo’s seniors was going to Pomona-Pitzer in the fall, but one young lady that stood out was sophomore catcher Isabel Gusman, the Vikings’ youngest player who, as part of a six-run third inning, smashed a two-run home run to center field, knocking Culver’s starter out.
I gave those Centaurs MUCH credit for continuing to play hard and not quitting despite a 6-1 deficit – MUCH kudos to head coach Javier Gabby Chacon and his staff for that – as there were stellar back-to-back plays by Culver City’s third baseman and center fielder late in the contest.
Not to mention freshman pitcher Lailah Bell shutting Samo down after that six-run outburst; I remember thinking how she should have started the game.
The game got particularly exciting at the end.
With one out in the 7th and last inning, Culver really showed their guts by not only loading the bases, but by pushing two runs across the plate – which of course pumped the Centaurs up – and getting the tying run up to bat.
Unfortunately that potential tying run grounded out to end the game, Samohi winning 7-4.
But that didn’t stop me from giving Culver Softball much respect for refusing to quit and battling to the end, which is the mark of a good team.
As well as being very impressed with both squads as I’m convinced that they will finish one-two in the Ocean League and will host the first round of the CIF playoffs; I told the coaches such after the game when I was wishing them well.
As well as saying that just like the two football teams in 2011, Santa Monica and Culver City could meet in the playoffs.
It was great example of a nice rivalry.
I certainly had a good time as I told players and coaches on both sides that if they do meet in the postseason, I would do my best to be there.
This didn’t happen against Culver City, but here’s Santa Monica’s Kennedee Jameson hitting a home run in another recent game. Courtesy of YouTube.