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Journalists love to make lists. Just browse the internet for a few minutes and you’re sure to come across some: Top 500 Albums in Rock and Roll History; Top 5 Movies of All Time; Top 10 Vacation Resorts; 100 Greatest Novels in American Literature.
Well, we at Turlock Journal are no exception, especially at the end of the year. So here are our top five local sports stories for 2022.
No. 5: Turlock Golf Dominates — The Bulldogs wrap up the 2021-22 school year when the men’s team went on to win a second straight Central Cal Athletic League season and went on to win the Zac Joaquin Division II title, with a 69 by Clark Van Gallen, who would go on to win the league MVP award. Later in the year, starting with the 2022-23 school year, the Bulldogs girls’ teams also claim league and division titles.
For them, however, this is not the usual hero. Sydney Streeter, the 2021 CCAL Most Valuable Player, and Savannah Van Gaalen, who will be the 2022 league MVP award, shot 82 and 83, respectively, about 10 rounds in the same round they would normally play at Turlock Golf and Country Club. The level achieved is comparable to their home and playing field. Instead, junior Isabella Dodd and sophomore Reese Benjamin raised their game when they needed it most. Dodd had a 2-over 74 and Benjamin had an 86 — both well below season averages. Natalia Lightfoot finished with a 90 for Turlock’s individual score, giving the Bulldogs a team score of 415, 47 runs clear of CCAL rivals Enochs (462).
No. 4: Pitman volleyball goes deep again — The Pride are no strangers to making strides in the playoffs in the Sac-Joaquin District, having reached the semifinals from 2013-2016 and winning championships from 2014-2016. But the Pride haven’t made it this deep in the playoffs since 2016, when they won the NorCal Championship and were fighting for the state title. And this year, with a group of young talents, shouldn’t have been the year they returned to the Final Four. But they come back. With freshmen Maryn Hall and Aila Reich returning next year, along with freshmen Payton Rowell, Ella Sniezek and Madison Eissayou, the Pride will likely end up being the No. 1 sports story in 2023.
No. 3: Turlock’s Tyler Soderstrom gets closer to the big leagues — The Turlock High graduate was selected by the Oakland A’s with the 26th pick in the first round of the 2020 draft. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound player started the 2022 season with High-A Lansing in the Midwest Conference before moving up to Midland in the Texas Conference. Soderstrom was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast Conference following the RockHounds’ final game of the season on Sept. 17.
“We were in Midland, finishing our last series,” said Soderstrom, whose father, Steve, was a first-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1993. “…my manager pulled me aside to tell me the news. Obviously I was really happy and excited.”
In 134 games with three teams, Soderstrom hit .267 with 29 home runs and 105 RBIs, slashing .324/.501/.825. In his first year in professional baseball, Soderstrom hit . 306 with 12 home runs, 49 RBIs and a . 390/. 568/. He’s now listed as the No. 1 prospect in the A’s organization, with a projected major league arrival date of 2024, which could make him a lock for a top local sports story two years from now.
No. 2: Turlock Christian pitcher Gavin Farinha bursts onto the national stage — The 6-foot, 190-pound lefty was the most dominant pitcher in the region last year. Perhaps the most dominant of the section. Possibly even countries. Farinha is 12-0 in 12 games with a 0.00 ERA and a .036 batting average against opponents. But that’s not even the most impressive part: He threw six no-hitters and had more than one at-bat just once in a game (3). Farinha struck out 155 in 72 innings pitched. Do the math. More than two batsmen per inning. In a 5-1 win over Foresthill — one of two teams to win in his unearned game — Farinha struck out 20 of the 24 batters he faced. The high point came when Farinha captured the Division 7 title with 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Valley Christian.
Farinha, now a senior, is one of 12 pitchers in the country with a 0.00 ERA and leads the nation with six no-hitters, while his 12 wins and 155 strikeouts are the third-highest totals in the nation .
Farinha, who signed to play at the Masters in Santa Clarita, is another top candidate to be a top sports story in 2023.
And the No. 1 local sports story of 2022…can we play the drums? …
Turlock High’s football team beats St. Mary’s to advance to divisional semifinals – After losing the 2021 CCAL title to Downey, the Bulldogs entered the season not as prey but as hunters. This fall, the Cavaliers returned to another two-game winning streak by beating THS 24-22 on a last-second field goal at Joe Debely Stadium. When the playoff groups were announced, most pundits took a quick look and thought Turlock would be crushed, with the mighty St. Mary’s looming in the second round. St Mary’s, after all, is the team (Central Catholic) that beat the team that beat Turlock (Manteca) earlier in the season. Heck, it’s St. Mary’s beating De La Salle. De La Salle!
Call it whatever you want. Call it the Rams’ overconfidence, call it St. Mary’s lack of momentum after a first-round bye, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Bulldogs are behind a one-touchdown, possession, late game. Bulldogs coach James Peterson wasted no time on a two-point conversion as he scored a touchdown to make it 50-49 with just over 1 minute left in the game – Cole Gilbert A jump pass to Andrew Johnson sent Turlock up the field. Reached the semi-finals for the first time in 20 years.
The Bulldogs received a thrilling testimonial, with police escorting them out of town for a semifinal match against Oak Ridge. Even though that game resulted in a 24-0 loss for Turlock, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Bulldogs have suffered one of the biggest upsets in Division I postseason history.
A well-deserved and well-deserved local sports story of the year.