It was an emotional Saturday for the Rocklin softball team.
Sandwiched between games against No. 4 Casa Roble and No. 11 Roseville at the Stephanie LeDoux Tournament in Roseville was a memorial service for a classmate, 18-year-old Heidi Greenwood, a popular cross country runner who died Friday after suffering a blood clot two days earlier.
"We had beaten Casa Roble, but we weren't sure how emotionally exhausted the girls might be after the afternoon service," Rocklin coach Marissa Hardy said. "It was such a traumatic experience. Everyone on the team knew her."
Adding to the emotional weekend was the softball tournament's significance.
It's played in memory of former Roseville High star Stephanie LeDoux. She was murdered in 1990, a few weeks after high school graduation, in an apparent random attack near her home.
One of LeDoux's coaches at Roseville was Jerry Wallace, now Hardy's assistant at Rocklin. LeDoux's parents, Marilyn and Ron, attend the tournament each year and present awards to the championship MVPs.
A few hours after Greenwood's memorial service, Rocklin beat Roseville 5-1 at the Maidu Community Center to cap an amazing three-day effort. The Thunder posted four tournament wins, three against ranked teams, and a 3-0, nine-inning triumph over Woodcreek on Thursday in a Sierra Foothill League game. Woodcreek is the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champion and was the No. 1-ranked team by The Bee.
Now in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, Rocklin is The Bee's No. 1 team and has debuted in the Cal-Hi Sports top 20 at No. 18.
"That just speaks to the character of the girls," Hardy said. "They refocused and put in an another outstanding effort."
Rocklin's sophomore leadoff hitter, Jaclyn Amader, who had a triple, single and two RBIs against Roseville, shared the tournament championship game MVP honor with Roseville's Delany DeMello.
"Jaclyn has been a sparkplug for us at the top of the lineup, but the award could have gone to any one of our players," Hardy said. "That's been our strength. We have tremendous depth. Everyone is contributing."
Rocklin is hitting a collective .380, has scored 99 runs and made just seven errors. Pitchers Kendall Chambers and Maddie Wuelfing are a combined 12-1.
Hardy, a fourth-grade teacher, is a former Rocklin player who pitched at East Tennessee State.
She has a team with the potential to be the best in school history, even though she's only three years out of college and in her second season as a varsity coach.
Through the years, Rocklin has been overshadowed by Del Oro, Woodcreek and Roseville (a combined 12 section titles) in league. The Thunder has never played in a section softball final.
"Rocklin has always had strong athletes come through, but for whatever reason, they've never quite been able to put it together," Hardy said. "When I was a player, we never made the playoffs. But this group has great team chemistry, and they're gaining confidence. It's nice to see the program start to reach its potential."
Woodcreek's trip LeDoux tournament director and Woodcreek coach Art Banks said it was a strange feeling not playing in his own event.
"It's a lot easier running a tournament when you are not playing in it," Banks said. "But we really missed not playing."
Second-ranked Woodcreek accepted a can't-pass invitation to the 32-team Michelle Carew tournament next week in Anaheim. It's considered California's top high school softball tournament.
"We play a triple round-robin in league, so there just weren't enough contacts allowed for us to do both tournaments," Banks said.
This year's Carew field includes Cal-Hi No. 1 Amador Valley of Pleasanton, No. 5 Norco and No. 8 Esperanza of Anaheim.
With its loss to Rocklin, Woodcreek is now ranked No. 20 by Cal-Hi.
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.