Village Christian softball, led by two-way standout Bree Brennan, eyes CIF title

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Village Christian softball coach John Forgerson is no stranger to championships.

Forgerson was at the helm at Chatsworth High from 2015-20 and won two City titles, both coming at the section’s highest level, in 2015 (Division I) and 2018 (Open Division).

“There’s a checklist of things that teams have to go through to be championship ready,” Forgerson said. “If you can check those things off the list throughout the season, you’ll give yourself a chance.”

Here’s Forgerson’s list:

Catch a lucky break.
Know how to put a team away.
Know how to play from behind.
Learn to play on the road.

The Crusaders have checked off everything on Forgerson’s list this season to go 17-7-1 including playoff wins against Immaculate Heart, Canyon Springs, Cantwell-Sacred Heart and St. Joseph to earn a trip to the CIF Southern Section Division 6 final against JW North at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday at 12:30 p.m.

It’s the program’s fourth all-time appearance in a CIF final and first since 2017. Village Christian won the Division 5 title in 2003, was the runner-up in Division 5 in 2004 and won Division 7 in 2017.

“These girls are riding the high of all the success,” Forgerson said. “They’re feeling good, as they should.”

COVID-19 was still looming when Forgerson took over the program in the spring of 2021. The roster had just two seniors on it, no juniors and a crop of sophomores and freshmen. The Crusaders took their lumps, going 3-11.

But one of those freshmen was Bree Brennan, who’s now a standout junior and one of the area’s top players.

“She is without question our hardest worker,” Forgerson said of Brennan. “She’s developed into a pitcher that can go the distance and keep up the power, too.”

Brennan isn’t just a leader from the pitching circle – posting a 1.84 ERA with 231 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings – she’s also the team’s best hitter. Brennan has a team-best average of .589 with a team-high 43 hits and second-best 29 RBIs.

“She’s the backbone of the team,” Forgerson added.

Senior catcher Fiona Hemstreet has emerged as the glue of the team, stepping up and playing catcher this season – a position she had never played before.

Hemstreet is the ultimate utility player.

“Our assistant coach mentioned at our team banquet that Fiona has played every position in the field at one point in her four-year career,” Forgerson said. “She’s amazing.”

The Crusaders have also gotten an extra lift from a bevvy of underclassmen, led by standout freshman Leah Mosley. She leads the team in RBIs (43), triples (3) and home runs (8).

“She’s also lightning fast,” Forgerson said of Mosley. “She’s a (NCAA) Division I talent, no doubt.”

The sophomore trio of Gaby Robel, Alina Newman and Sydney Millman have been key ingredients to Village Christian’s run. Millman leads the team in steals (9).

In just three seasons, Forgerson, 62, has developed another softball program competing for a CIF title. When he arrived in 2021, the team had to cancel games because of a lack of players. Now, they’re one win away from lifting a CIF plaque.

“My goal was to be competitive in three years. Maybe we’re a little ahead of schedule,” Forgerson said laughing.

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