Friday, March 29, 2013

Locals To Compete At Gymnastics Regional

Several boys who work out locally at Byers' Gymnastics will be competing April 4-7 in Reno at the Region I Gymnastics Championships. Those boys are: Sterling Furman, Christian Kalustian, Josh Newbold, Brandon Ngai, Darrel Yamamura, Cameron Ngai, Zachary Martin, Brandon Nguyen, Ashton Anaya, Justin Jones, Max Delgado, Eric Shebert, Ryan Crockett, Garret Cope, Nicholas De Visio, Bryce Jones, Jordan Ayala, Jacob Martin, Parker Raymond, Bryan Rettele, Nicholas Bongcaron and Hayden Raymond.

Galt Instructor Named To Coach National Taekwando Team

Fred Estrada, an instructor at the Robinson's in Galt,  has been selected as a coach for the national AAU Taekwondo team.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PG Takes First Boras Classic North Title

Pleasant Grove won the inaugural Boras Baseball Classic’s Northern California championship Thursday, but maybe they didn’t want to win it in the fashion they did.

Elk Grove’s relief pitching, particularly in the seventh inning, fell apart, allowing eight Eagle runners to score in that frame alone and gave Pleasant Grove an 11-1 win.

With the victory, Pleasant Grove will take on the winner of the southern California winner of the Boras Classic on Saturday, April 13 at University of the Pacific. The southern tournament will be played April 1 through 5 at both JSerra and Mater Dei High schools. 
PG's Josh Adams

In the first-ever regular season meeting of the two Elk Grove schools, Pleasant Grove used the pitching of senior Josh Adams to hold the potent Thundering Herd bats to six hits over six innings of work. Adams tacked on a sky-high double off the right field fence to score the eventual winning run in the fifth inning.

“(Elk Grove) sort of did it to themselves,” Eagles’ head coach Rob Rinaldi said. “We hung in there, we pitched well, we played great defense. This week we just didn’t break down on the mound and played defense.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Notebook:Ziegenhirt Named Pac-12 Player Of Week

Lindsey Ziegenhirt was a high school All-American softball player at Sheldon High School. Now as a senior at Cal, she is having the kind of year for the Golden Bears that may earn her NCAA All-American honors this season.

The starting catcher for the third-ranked Bears had a pair of home runs Saturday in a 9-4 win over Utah to up her batting average to a team-leading .384. Ziegenhirt has now 12 homers on the year to lead Cal in that category along with 38 RBI’s.

But, just a year ago she lost her starting job to Valerie Jones. Her batting average in 2012 dipped to .156 and she appeared in only 35 of Cal’s 65  games. This followed two solid years where she caught virtually all of Cal’s games and was made the Pac-10’s All-Freshman team in 2010.

Cal's Lindsey Ziegenhirt
So what happened to earn back her starting job behind the plate? 

“I just worked really hard,” Ziegenhirt claimed. “I wasn’t satisfied with last year. I had accepted my role as supporting cast. I wanted them to do well whether I contributed or not. But, I worked hard over the summer and into the fall and I’m just hitting the ball really well now.”

The Pac-12 recognized Ziegenhirt’s accomplishment by naming her the Player of the Week on Monday. She was five-for-seven at the plate in the three-game sweep of the Utes.

Ziegenhirt’s season started off with ten home runs in the first 15 games for Cal. That start forced coach Diana Ninemeier to put Jones at second base to keep her potent bat in the lineup and Ziegenhirt, like her freshman and sophomore seasons, was again the starting catcher.

“I think I was trying too hard and this year, it’s become more of a mental thing,” she said. “I am relaxing and having fun. I have only two more months so why not have some fun out here? It’s beginning to work.”

On Sunday, teammate Jolene Henderson became Cal’s all-time win-ingest pitcher by earning her 120th career victory. The pair has been teammates since they were eight years old. Henderson, who has already earned All-American honors twice, may be a shoe-in for a third-such honor.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

STATE CHAMPIONS! Pleasant Grove Made History

No one probably knows the magnitude of Pleasant Grove’s win in the CIF Division I boys’ basketball championship game Friday night more than school principal Hank Meyers.

Cole Nordquist models his new T-shirt moments
after Pleasant Grove won the D-I basketball
championship Friday
He coached the Jesuit basketball teams in 1993 and 1994 that finished second those years. Those squads and last year’s Sheldon boys are the only other Sacramento-area teams to make it this far in the large school division since the CIF began a state championship in basketball in 1981. 

“Fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” Meyer exclaimed. “I couldn’t be more pleased and happy.”

The 73-57 win over Santa Monica contains a list of firsts by the 2013 Eagles: the first state championship for the school in any sport, the first basketball state championship in the Elk Grove Unified School District, the first basketball state championship in Division I in the Sac-Joaquin Section and, perhaps, the first state championship by a team that didn’t win its league title nor its Section championship.

Friday, March 22, 2013

There 's a state champion in Elk Grove! Final - Pleasant Grove 73, Santa Monica 57
Chriss with alley oop jam. 69-53 PG 1:43 LEFT
65-53 PG 2:46 LEFT and we can crown a state basketball champion in Elk Grove

PG Goes For D-I State Title

I'll be twittering updates frequently tonight from Sleep Train Arena as Pleasant Grove faces Santa Monica for the California Division I boys' State Basketball Championship.

Follow me @EGCitizenJHull

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lex Looks To A Good 2013 Season

Davis, Franklin and Elk Grove have been the top three baseball teams in the Delta Valley Conference for much of the past ten seasons. The other DVC clubs – Laguna Creek, Grant and Monterey Trail -  just haven’t found ways to nudge one of these three perennial baseball powers out of the playoff race.

It’s been quite a long post-season drought for Laguna Creek.  The last time the Cardinals were playing in the playoffs was 2000 when current head coach Josh Lex hit a towering walk-off home run against Davis to win the Delta League baseball championship. A photo of Lex’ feat is framed and hanging in the Laguna Creek gym.

The last time the Cardinals finished above .500 was 2005. That team was coached by current Oak Ridge head man Todd Melton and featured guys like Ryan Nill and Adam Wood on the roster.

Lex is now in his third year of rebuilding the Cardinal baseball program to the stature he knew when he was a budding baseball player. 

“It’s slowly changing,” Lex said last week while he was scouting at a Franklin home game against Oak Ridge. “We’re starting to get that more experienced, that travel-ball type of player. The kid that plays more summer ball.”

He says getting the more seasoned baseball player really benefits the entire program at Laguna.

“You don’t have to start from square-one with that kid,” Lex explained. “You don’t have to teach all the fundamentals. You can hit the ground running with that kind of player that comes in.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weds.Notebook:Larson Takes Second At Bristol

Saturday’s deadly crash at Marysville Raceway Park which killed two spectators brought back memories of the multi-car pile-up three weeks ago at Daytona Motor Speedway in Florida. Several fans in the stands were hit by flying debris, mostly from the airborne car of Elk Grove driver Kyle Larson.

Despite the fact that the entire front end of Larson’s car was sheered off the vehicle came to rest in the Daytona infield and Larson walked away unharmed.

Larson rebounded quite well in last Saturday’s Nationwide race at Bristol, Tenn., by finishing in second place, only .023  of a second behind race winner Kyle Busch.

He told reporters following the race that he is still getting used to stock cars after starting his career in sprints, the same vehicle that crashed at Marysville on Saturday.

"I think I have pretty good feedback, but I don't have the confidence in myself to tell them what to change," Larson said. "This is only the beginning of my second season in stock cars. There's a lot more adjustments you can make in stock cars than you can on sprint cars, so I kind of have a decent understanding of sprint cars. I just have to get used to the stock cars.”

Larson has drawn positive comments from several top NASCAR drivers like Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart recently who have said that the 20-year-old will be NASCAR’s next star.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gray Named Atlantic 10 Softball Player of Week

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - George Washington freshman Carlee Gray was named Atlantic 10 Softball Rookie of the Week for games played March 11-17, the conference announced on Tuesday.

Carlee Gray, a 2012 grad of Elk Grove,
doing quite well at George Washington Univ.
Gray led GW to a perfect 5-0 week, hitting .429 (6-for-14) with seven RBIs and five runs scored. She was also hit by a pitch four times, reaching base at a .556 clip, and slugged .714 with a double and a home run. In addition, the first baseman did not commit an error in 36 chances. 

Gray broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning against Ohio State with a grand slam - her first career home run - as the Colonials defeated the Buckeyes, 8-4. She then reached base in all four plate appearances in a 9-7 win over Akron, going 2-for-2 with a two-run double and two runs scored. Gray also had two hits and an RBI in GW's 7-4 victory over the Zips on Saturday.

A native of Elk Grove and 2012 grad of Elk Grove High School,  Gray is batting a team-best .381 with five doubles and 14 RBIs in her inaugural collegiate campaign.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

PG Wins NorCal D-I Boys' Basketball Title

My congratulations to John DePonte and his Pleasant Grove Eagles on their 73-60 defeat of Deer Valley Saturday in the NorCal Regional Basketball Tournament's Division I championship game.

The Eagles now will face Santa Monica H.S. Friday at 8 p.m. for the State Championship at Sleep Train Arena.

EG Loses First Game
Today I was at Campolindo High School in Moraga to watch Elk Grove lose its first baseball game of the season to the Cougars, 4-2. Dave Smith had a rough fourth inning with a pair of walks, a double off a badly-played line drive and an RBI single. Otherwise he pitched pretty well to a team that has five players heading to a Division I college this fall.

The Herd was held to only four hits (one of them a solo homer by Mikey Wright in the second inning) by Oregon State-bound pitcher Trent Shelton.

LoForte Hopes To Lead Franklin Back To Playoffs

It was only six years ago when as a 10-year-old, Hank LoForte and his Laguna Youth Baseball All-Star teammates were sitting atop the world. They had won the Cal Ripken World Series. They were the best group of 10-year-old baseball players in the country that summer.

Now sophomores in high school, they are all still pretty darn good baseball players.

Franklin SS Hank LoForte (photo by Christi Chavez)
“It’s crazy all the guys are on varsity all around here,” LoForte said of is former Laguna Youth baseball teammates. “It’s real nice to be able to play them at times.” 

LoForte is the lead-off batter and starting shortstop at Franklin High School. Nick Madrigal has the same role at Elk Grove. Madrigal’s twin brother, Ty, is a starting pitcher and occasional rightfielder for the Herd.

Carlos Moseley bats second in the Elk Grove lineup this spring and plays second base most of the time. Brooks Day and Matt Kelly are on the Herd JV team.

Jack Walsh is a starter at Laguna Creek. Colton Wakeman starts for Christian Brothers. Alex Smith is at Cosumnes Oaks.

Their ace pitcher on that 10-year-old squad, Johnny Burke, is the only one not playing baseball. He’s turned to golf and is on the team at Jesuit.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What a Night For Basketball

While I was watching the Bradshaw Christian girls self-destruct Tuesday night in their NorCal Regional Semi-final game against Piedmont, the two area boys teams were taking care of business quite well. In the Open Division, Sheldon defeated the state's top-ranked squad, Salesian, 63-59 in overtime. At Pleasant Grove High School, the No.2 seed Eagles easily beat De LaSalle. This means Sheldon will face Archbishop Mitty Saturday at 8 p.m. for the NorCal Championship at Sleep Train Arena. Pleasant Grove takes on Deer Valley at 4 p.m. that day in the Division I championship game. It's great there's two EGUSD teams that have gone this deep in the basketball playoffs. Their coaches and players are to be congratulated. Also congrats to Florin's girls team and Bradshaw's girls. They both were defeated last night in the semi-final round. The Lady Panthers dropped a 44-31 decision to St. Francis of Mtn. View while the Lady Pride shot only 18% from the floor in a 31-27 defeat at the hands of Piedmont.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NorCal Regional Semi-Finals Tonight

There's four area basketball teams competing tonight in the semi-finals of the NorCal Basketball Tournament. The winners will all advance to the NorCal Championships on Saturday. The Open Division along with Divisions I and II will play games at Sleep Train Arena. Divisions III, IV and V will play the championship games at American Canyon High School near Napa. Tonight at St. Mary's College, the Sheldon Huskies will have its toughest test of the season as it faces No.1 seed Salesian of Richmond in the Open Division. In the other semi, Modesto Christian plays at Archbishop Mitty. In Division I boys' action, Pleasant Grove plays host to De LaSalle. The other D-I semi will pit Deer Valley and Bellarmine. In Division II girls, Florin takes on St. Francis of Mountain View on the road. Tonight, I will be at Bradshaw Christian High School for the Pride's Division IV semi-final game with Piedmont. Bradshaw is the No. 2 seed while Piedmont is a No. 3 seed. Follow me on Twitter for updates from this game: @EGCitizenJHull

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Elk Grove Shuts Out Valley Christian

In their biggest test thus far this season, the Elk Grove baseball team, ranked seventh nationally by Maxpreps, shut out Valley Christian High School in San Jose Saturday, 4-0. Dave Smith threw a four-hitter, struck out six, walked none, but hit two batters in tossing a solid game.

Carlos Moseley had a two-run double in the fifth inning and Nick Madrigal had a two-RBI single in the seventh. The Herd will play Tuesday at St. Mary's, the defending Section champion in Division I.

Watch the game highlights from Saturday :

Friday, March 08, 2013

Transfers, Transfers Everywhere!

Student/Athletes - or more correctly written, their parents - have made certain that their sons/daughters are playing their sport at a school where they perceive their child will have the best opportunity for:
1. Quality coaching
2. Win a Championship
3. Be seen by a college scout (not necessarily in this order)

With open enrollments now at most area schools, it is very common to find student/athletes who reside on one side of Elk Grove going to school and playing a sport on the other side. We even have several Sacramento residents playing sports at a school in Elk Grove.

Where this becomes an issue of fairness and honesty is when the student/athlete or their parent doesn't like the sports program at their first high school and transfers to another.

The CIF has some pretty stringent rules to police this kind of activity. Basically, the rules state a transfer isn't allowed if only for athletic reasons. We all know that gets disguised pretty often under the cloak of "wanting to be a part of (fill-in-the-blank) academy or academic program."

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Despite Transfers, PG Softball Looks Strong

Here's another installment of my softball previews ...

At the end of last season, most softball fans looking ahead to 2013 pointed to Pleasant Grove as perhaps the team to beat. Potentially, they were going to have the best line-up in the Delta River League and perhaps one of the top groups in all of Division I. They definitely were going to have the most varsity experience of anyone else.

Then Kaylen Minnatee, the freshman infielder who almost single-handedly beat Sheldon in 2012 with key hits in both of Pleasant Grove’s wins over the Huskies, decided she wanted to play for the defending Sac Joaquin Section champions and transferred to Sheldon. Another potential 2013 starter, Brianna Cherry, transferred to Cosumnes Oaks.

Last season’ s starting catcher/third baseman Lindsey Willmon and her .448 batting average and eight home runs is playing this spring out of state. Taryn Renowden, who played two seasons ago, sat out much of 2012 with an injury, transferred to Elk Grove.

Still, the group that remains is pretty good. It all begins with returning starting pitcher Celina Matthias. Last season she was 10-8 with a 2.17 ERA.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Votino Takes 2nd At State Wrestling

Scott Votino, finished 2nd at State, just sixth EGHS
Wrestler to finish first or second at State Wrestling Meet
Scott Votino's attempt to become Elk Grove High School's sixth state wrestling champion fell just six points short Saturday. The 195-pound wrestler lost to Vacaville's Jeramy Sweany, 6-1, to become just the fourth EGHS grappler to finish second.

Votino joined Adrien Smedley (1977) and Michael Drake (2004) along with Adam Coffing (1994 and 1996) who earned silver medals at the State Championships in Bakersfield. Coffing won the 1995 championship at 140 pounds.

He is one of five Herd wrestlers to win a state championship. The last one was Lefi Letuligasenoa who was first at 285 pounds in 2010.

Votino finished out of the top eight last season at 170 pounds and this year decided to wrestle at 195. He took first place this season at the Nor Cal Invitational at Anderson and the Albany Tournament. He was the Delta Valley Conference champion and placed first at the Division I-A Tournament two weeks ago.

At the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters' Tournament he placed third at his weight.

In Sweany, he faced the state's top-ranked 195-pounder. He won first at eight tournaments this season, plus was first at the Division 1-AA meet and the Section Masters. He controlled the match throughout. Votino was able to score an escape late in the third period for his lone point.

Votino's teammate Jaharee Taylor finished eighth at 285 pounds. In consolation action earlier Saturday, Taylor lost to Franklin's Tyler Hecht, who ended up fourth in State. Sam Alnassiri made it to the second day of the State Championships, but lost his first match on Saturday.

Franklin's Joey Banks won three matches and lost one in Friday's opening rounds, but was eliminated in the opening match Saturday.

Out after day one are Elk Grove's Tristan Scott at 106 pounds, Franklin's Josh Villaflor at 120 pounds, Sheldon's Ethan Brewer at 113 pounds and Monterey Trail's Marlon Ward at 182 pounds.

EG's Jaharee Taylor wrestling Franklin's
Tyler Hecht at the State Wrestling Meet Saturday

Bradshaw Girls Win Div. IV Championship

The Bradshaw Christian School's girls basketball team defeated Bear River, 50-40, Saturday for the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division IV championship. Watch the post-game news conference from Sleep Train Arena.

Votino In State Wrestling Finals At 195

Day Two of the California State Wrestling Championships is today in Bakersfield and we'll be watching Scott Votino of Elk Grove. He is in the finals of the 195-pound weight classification. Earlier he defeated Trevor Smith of Ripon, 3-1, in the semi-finals.

Votino will take on Vacaville's Jeramy Sweaney for the State title.

Votino's teammate Jaharee Taylor finished eighth at 285 pounds. In consolation action earlier Saturday, Taylor lost to Franklin's Tyler Hecht, who ended up fourth in State. Sam Alnassiri made it to the second day of the State Championships, but lost his first match on Saturday.

Franklin's Joey Banks won three matches and lost one in Friday's opening rounds, but was eliminated in the opening match Saturday.

Out after day one are Elk Grove's Tristan Scott at 106 pounds, Franklin's Josh Villaflor at 120 pounds, Sheldon's Ethan Brewer at 113 pounds and Monterey Trail's Marlon Ward at 182 pounds.

Cosumnes Oaks Bracing For Big Season

This is a first in a series of features on some of our area softball teams ....

Could the best softball team in Elk Grove not be in Division I? Could it perhaps be the Division IV Cosumnes Oaks Wolfpack?

If one were to answer those questions on the basis of the Wolfpack’s season opener, a 5-2 loss at Pleasant Grove, the answer may be “no.” However, by the end of the year, especially by the end of the D-IV playoffs in Stockton, the answer could be a “yes.”

Lynda Bettencourt, one of the most energetic local coaches, has plenty of talent this season to go very deep, if not win, a Section championship.

“I think by the end of the season that we will be a top competitor in the city,” Bettencourt said. “(Her club) is a team of heart, they are coach-able, passion and they are going to make the adjustments.”

And, as far as why the Wolfpack looked a bit overwhelmed last Thursday in the loss to Pleasant Grove?

“We had a little jitters today in the first day,” Bettencourt admitted.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Big Sports Weekend!

There's lots of big games coming up this weekend and it all starts today when Pleasant Grove and Laguna Creek open the baseball season with a game at PG at 3:45 p.m.

Tomorrow Elk Grove's baseball team, ranked in the top 25 nationally, will throw out the first pitch at noon with a home game against Ponderosa. By the way, both Dom Nunez and Rowdy Tellez are ranked in Maxpreps' top 100 seniors nationally.

Thursday, Pleasant Grove's softball team handed Cosumnes Oaks a 5-2 season opening loss. Both squads will two of the top teams around. Watch for a story on each of those clubs next week in the Citizen.

Saturday the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball championships are at Sleep Train Arena. At 11:30 a.m. the Bradshaw Christian girls will take on Bear River for the Division IV championship. In the game that follows Florin will face off against Metro Conference rival Sacramento in the Division II girls' championship game.

At 8:30 p.m. two local schools, Sheldon and Pleasant Grove, will fight it out for the Division I boys' championship. Sheldon is going for its fourth straight Section banner. Pleasant Grove hopes three times is a charm because they've lost to the Huskies the previous two times these teams have played.

For those of you on a budget, the games at Sleep Train aren't cheap: $12 for parking and $17 for adult admission.