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Sydney Stewart, Saint Francis (Mountain View) softball & basketball star, is SBLive's Central Coast Section Athlete of the Year

The Washington softball commit hit .557 with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs on the top team in the state, and was a basketball star to boot.

Welcome to a continuing tradition at SBLive California – honoring the male and female athletes of the year in every CIF Section.

Because the SBLive crew gets so immersed in specific sports seasons, it is nice to take a step back to pick a Section honor on a broader scale.

The criteria isn’t too expansive: The starting point is finding athletes who are all-league/all-state performers. Totality of career is also a factor as is winning. Administrator/coach/fan recommendation plays a role as well.

Enjoy as we honor some of California's top athletes!

Sydney Stewart's high school softball career left little to be desired. 

As both a junior and senior, the 6-2 catcher/first baseman was one of the best hitters in the state on the No. 1 team in California. In 2022, she batted .557 with 15 home runs, 53 RBIs, and a monstrous 1.944 OPS for the CIFCCS champion and Northern Region Division I champ.

The Washington commit, recently named First Team All-State by SBLive, will long cherish the highs. 

She hit a walk-off double in the ninth inning of the Open Division section finals, a 6-5 win against rival Archbishop Mitty in the Lancers' only close call of the playoffs.

"That game was insane. It was at West Valley College with a ton of people there. We knew that Mitty was a great team and they really wanted it. They scored early in the game and we had a nervous feeling that it could go south, but we knew we'd pull it together.

"I jumped on an inside changeup in the ninth and it went past the left fielder. With Chloe (Cummings) on second, I knew we won. Once I rounded second and saw my teammates running towards me, it was one of the best feelings I've ever experienced."

Stewart was also the leading scorer (14.4 PPG on 60% FG) and rebounder (8.7 RPG) on a top-50 basketball team in the state, and earned First Team All-WCAL honors in addition to an All-Metro mention.

But many of the moments she will remember as the most meaningful from her high school career had little to do with all the winning and individual dominance she grew accustomed to.

For instance, she reflects on the Lancers' first loss in softball since 2019, coming narrowly to Canyon (Anaheim), as a foundational point of their season.

"Coach Oakland wanted to challenge us by scheduling a really hard [non-league schedule]. We knew we had a target on our backs. We went to L.A. and faced our first loss in years, but he knew it would be a learning experience and wanted us to see that we were still tight as a group."

Saint Francis would only lose one more game all season, coming against Sheldon, and they avenged it in the Regional semifinals.

A cold spell on the softball diamond for Stewart would constitute a career week for almost any other player. But her steadfast commitment to grinding through those relative struggles is a major part of what she's taken the most pride in and will remember the most from her high school career. 

"I've struggled a lot with slumps at times... I'm not this perfect athlete that it may seem like. When I go through slumps, I definitely do struggle, and I work really hard to pull myself out."

Finally, another one of Stewart's favorite memories was the sheer atmosphere of senior night in basketball, when the Lancers were able to load the gym with fans for the first time since the pandemic began.

"The student section was stacked, even the upper floor was packed. Even though we didn't get the result we wanted, it was amazing."

The Lancers struggled to compete with eventual Open Division state finalist Archbishop Mitty that night, but Stewart frequently brought her A-game against their better foes. Examples would be 24 points on 10-12 shooting to beat St. Joseph (Santa Maria), 29 points and 15 rebounds on 14-17 shooting to beat Santa Teresa, 21 points and 12 boards in a pivotal league win against Valley Christian, and a career-high 30 points to go with 13 rebounds in a narrow Division I Regional playoff loss to Laguna Creek. 

Additionally, Stewart was the first starter to get pulled in Saint Francis' lopsided wins, and averaged 16.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in games that exclude blowout wins in which she played less than 10 minutes. She would've been a clear D-1 prospect on the hardwood if not for her even better prospects on the softball field. When combined with her softball dominance, Stewart's prowess on the basketball court locked her in as SBLive's Central Coast Section Athlete of the Year.


School: Saint Francis (Mountain View)

Sports: Softball, basketball

Next step: Washington Softball

Season highlights and accolades: WCAL, Central Coast Section Open Division, and Northern Region Division I champion (softball); Named First Team All-State by SBLive (softball); Named All-Bay Area by Mercury News/Bay Area News Group (basketball)



Central Section Male: Nate Johnson, Clovis

Central Section Female: Jazmine Soto, Strathmore

Central Coast Section Male: Mikey Mitchell Jr., Archbishop Mitty

Central Coast Section Female: Jessica Oakland, St. Francis

LA City Section Male: Dylan Kordic, San Pedro

LA City Section Female: Jillian Kelly, El Camino Real

North Coast Section Male: Nico Torrez, De La Salle

North Coast Section Female: Natalie Pasco, San Ramon Valley

Sac-Joaquin Section Male: Jadyn Marshall, Stockton St. Mary's

Sac-Joaquin Section Female: Jzaniya Harriel, Antelope

San Diego Section Male: Nick Herrmann, Torrey Pines

San Diego Section Female: Elise Miller, San Pasqual

Southern Section Male: Thomas Southey, Mira Costa

Southern Section Female: Alyssa Thompson, Harvard-Westlake