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.

Ziegenhirt says Henderson has never thrown a bad game and this year she may be throwing as good as she ever has.

“She’s throwing bullets,” Ziegenhirt said. “Every game she always throws her hardest.”

Henderson’s stats reflect that. She has a 22-2 record this season with an incredible 0.94 ERA in 162 2/3rds innings. Henderson has 159 strikeouts already this season.

The three-game sweep of Utah last weekend got the Bears off to a good start in the Pac-12 season. Ziegenhirt likes her team’s chance for another conference championship and, perhaps, a third straight visit to the College World Series.

“I think we have a good shot,” she said. “There is no team in the Pac-12 you can take a day off on. This is a good preparation for post-season.”

There isn’t much of a future for softball players after college. There is a small professional league that hasn’t received much publicity or much of a fan-following. So, Ziegenhirt is thinking about returning to Elk Grove and become an assistant to her high school coach, Mary Jo Truesdale, while working on a Masters’ degree.

“I want to give back to the softball community and that may be by helping another girl learn how to play softball,” she said.

UC/Santa Barbara Plays At UOP Friday-Saturday

Ziegenhirt and Henderson’s former Sheldon teammates, sisters Meme and Dejanee Moore, along with Elk Grove alum Shelby Wisdom will be at Pacific University this weekend to take on the Tigers’ softball squad in a Big West Conference matchup.

UC/Santa Barbara's
Shelby Wisdom
There is a doubleheader Friday with the first game starting at 3 p.m. and a single game Saturday beginning at noon.

The Gauchos are 20-10 thus far this season. They opened the Big West Conference schedule last weekend by losing two of three at Cal State – Fullerton.

Wisdom is second on the Gauchos with her .308 batting average and four home runs. She has a 10-7 record on the mound with a 2.40 ERA.

Carda Wielding Hot Bat For UCLA

Former Pleasant Grove Eagle Ally Carda has led UCLA to a 24-6 record to this point of the season. She’s batting .346 with 11 home runs on a squad that is one of the nation’s best hitting teams.

On the mound, Carda is 15-3 with a 2.18 ERA. The Bruins opened the Pac-12 season last weekend losing two of three games to No. 2-ranked Arizona State.

Three Elk Grove Pitchers Combine For No-Hitter

EGHS pitcher Cody Barnes
Elk Grove opened the 32-team Boras Baseball Classic Monday with three pitchers combining on a no-hitter. Facing Excel Academy, a second-year charter school from Stockton, juniors Cody Barnes and Skyler Quam, along with sophomore Dustin Jack shutdown the Pumas, 10-0. For all three, this was their first varsity appearance.  

The Herd then followed the win with another victory, an 11-4 decision over Yuba City. In that game Derek Hill had three RBI’s while Dom Nunez backed up winning pitcher Dave Smith with three hits, including a double and a triple.

The northern half of the Boras Baseball Classic in which 16 teams are competing, is being played at McAuliffe Fields. The third-place and the championship games will be played Thursday at noon and 4 p.m., respectively, at John Smith Field on the Sacramento State campus.

Laguna Creek, Franklin Open Fresno Easter Tourney

Laguna Creek dropped its opening game in the 44th annual American Ambulance Fresno Easter Baseball Classic to Memorial High School of Fresno, 4-2. This is the Cardinals’ first trip to Fresno for the tournament.

Franklin, which has become a regular at the event, also lost its first game, 4-3, to Hanford High School. Hank LoForte had a pair of hits to pace the Wildcat attack. Trent Spallas pitched a complete game in the loss.

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