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2024 Bay Area News Group softball player of the year: St. Francis’ Kate Munnerlyn

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Facing the top of the formidable Archbishop Mitty lineup and clinging to a slim 4-2 lead entering the sixth inning, St. Francis looked to left-handed ace Kate Munnerlyn to close out the Central Coast Section Open Division championship. 

A half-dozen Monarchs came up to the plate, and all six Mitty batters turned into outs as Munnerlyn shut the door on a comeback and clinched the program’s third Open Division title in four seasons. 

“This feels amazing,” Munnerlyn said.

On a team stacked with future Division I players, Munnerlyn was indisputably the best of the bunch. 

The Texas A&M commit went 15-0 with a 0.52 ERA and 183 strikeouts in the circle, and also hit .356 with 35 RBIs and six home runs.  

For this, Munnerlyn repeated as the Bay Area News Group softball player of the year. Not only was she the team’s top pitcher and a formidable hitter, but Munnerlyn also took on more of a leadership role in the dugout.

“With Rebecca (Quinn), Shannon (Keighran) and me, personally, we helped hold this team together,” Munnerlyn said. 

St. Francis’ Kate Munnerlyn (8) gestures and she runs the bases after hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Archbishop Mitty High at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Munnerlyn shined the brightest against the best competition. 

She allowed zero runs in regular-season matchups against eventual CCS Division II champion Capuchino and NorCal Division II finalist Willow Glen.

Against top-notch opponents at the prestigious Michelle Carew tournament in Southern California, Munnerlyn’s brilliant pitching helped the Lancers win despite the Mountain View school scoring just five runs in three games. 

Munnerlyn struck out 17 in a complete-game shutout against Roosevelt, and then fanned 10 in a one-hit shutout against Mission Viejo. 

Those gaudy strikeout numbers continued once the Lancers got back to the Bay Area. She K’d 17 in victories against Archbishop Mitty and Valley Christian. 

Once the postseason rolled around, Munnerlyn hit another gear. 

St. Francis softball players welcome back home their teammate Kate Munnerlyn (8) after hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Archbishop Mitty High at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
St. Francis softball players welcome back home their teammate Kate Munnerlyn (8) after hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Archbishop Mitty High at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

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