Monday, March 31, 2014

Local Minor Leaguers: Where Are They?

Sitting around on this Monday evening watching opening day for the Giants, my son Max and I were wondering where our EG-area minor leaguers have been's what we discovered:

David Freitas (EGHS, CRC) - AA Bowie Baysox (Orioles)
Kyle Castro (PGHS) - A Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Dom Nunez (EGHS) - Rookie Grand Junction Rockies (Rockies)
Rowdy Tellez (EGHS) - Rookie Bluefield Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Dylan Chavez (PGHS, ARC) - Rookie GCL Red Sox (Red Sox)
Jake Rodriguez (EGHS) - UPDATE: Jake has been assigned to Lancaster, a team in the Class A California League.
Tyler Linehan (Sheldon) - A Wisconsin TimberRattlers (Brewers)
Corey Vaughn (Jesuit) - AA Binghamton Mets (Mets)
Brandon Pinckney (EGHS) - Ind. Grand Prairie (American Association)
Andrew Lopez (EGHS) - Ind. Las Vegas (Pecos League)

Of course, these guys may be shifted around in the next couple weeks. We'll do the best we can to follow our local guys.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Will Freshman-Only Sports Return To EGUSD?

Members of the Board of Trustees of the Elk Grove Unified School District have been deluged the past few days with emails asking for the restoration of funding for freshman sports.

During a time of budget shortfalls, the school district eliminated all freshman teams prior to the 2010-2011 school year. It saved the district about $400,000 at the time. The money for other sports programs also took a hit of about $500,000.

Initially, the district wanted to eliminate swimming and diving, boys and girls golf and a few junior varsity sports. After a public outcry the Board told district officials to cut the money to all sports equally.

Now, with budget times looking much better the call for restoration of freshman-only teams is sounding louder and louder, particularly with Board members eyeballing the budgets for the coming school year.

“We are looking forward to our son becoming a teammate with the Franklin Wildcats,” Sergio Orozco wrote in an email sent to the Citizen. “We have recently been notified that this may not happen as the E.G.U.S.D. will not allow the Frosh-Soph football team to be split into two groups; and as a result several of our children will not have the opportunity to play the desired sport of choice. ”

“If this is not allowed then my son who has been eager to start his freshman year on the Wildcats football team will soon not have his desire to attend school and the drive to keep up his grades to be an active participant on the team,” Orozco continued.

Valerie and Greg Manuel, grandparents of a boy who will be attending Franklin High School next year, had similar concerns: “(There is a) need for more opportunities for incoming 8th graders to participate and become engaged in/adapt to the high school culture/environment in a positive way,” they wrote in their email. “ (Freshman sports provides) motivation for our youth to stay in school, do well, complete school and pursue college.”

The school district’s athletic director Jim Smrekar, also a recipient of many of these same emails, agrees.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Hernandez Needs TJ Surgery; Last Game For PG's McKeever?

Former Elk Grove H.S. and CRC pitching star David Hernandez will likely sit out the 2014 Major League Baseball season for an injury that will require "Tommy John" surgery on his throwing arm.

Hernandez, a key reliever on the pitching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was diagnosed with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and will seek a second opinion, the D-backs reliever confirmed Friday.

"It's just a tough pill to swallow," Hernandez told the MLB Network.

Hernandez said that team physician Michael Lee diagnosed the tear and as is standard operating procedure he will seek a second opinion, though as of Friday morning he was not sure which doctor he would go to for it.

If Hernandez does indeed need Tommy John surgery, the recovery time can range anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

Losing Hernandez for the 2014 season is the second damaging injury the D-backs have suffered this month. Just two weeks ago ace Patrick Coleman was diagnosed with a UCL tear and he underwent surgery Tuesday.

Hernandez, 28, was one of the National League's best setup men in 2011 and 2012 before struggling last season.

However after finishing with a strong September, Hernandez worked hard during the offseason and reported to camp having lost weight and regained his confidence. His outings in the spring drew praise from general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson.

Hernandez projected to be the eighth-inning setup man for closer Addison Reed.

Will Tonight Be PG Coach McKeever's Last?

There's a rumor going around the Pleasant Grove campus that tonight's girls' state championship basketball game will be coach James McKeever's last. But, he won't be going very far.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

DVC Opens Baseball Play Today

Franklin will be at Davis and Elk Grove hosts Grant this afternoon as the Delta Valley Conference will open its 2014 slate of baseball games.

The Herd is 2-2 thus far, taking on some of Northern California's top squads. Grant is led by left-hander Cameron Avila-Leeper, one of the best pitchers in the Section. Elk Grove's starter will be junior Chris Martin.

The Wildcats will send their ace, Cameron Keup, to the mound at Davis. One would figure the Blue Devils would throw Matt Trask, but there's been rumors he's been dealing with injuries this season. If healthy, Trask might be the best pitcher in the DVC, if not all of the Section.

PG Preps For State Title Game

There is one more weekend of basketball coming up and it's the big ones. The CIF State Championships begin tomorrow and play through Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena.

The 11th seeded Pleasant Grove girls will face Canyon Springs, the top club from SoCal, at  6 p.m. Friday for the Division I title. If the Lady Eagles can pull off the win, that would be back-to-back state championships for that school. The boys won it last season.

The only other area club that is playing this weekend is Folsom. They are taking on St. John Bosco Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Division II boys game.

DePonte Will Stay at P.G.

Pleasant Grove's boys basketball coach John DePonte officially resigned after the Eagles were eliminated from the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. In an email to me, he wrote that he is looking forward to spending more time in the classroom this next school year at P.G., and, of course, getting extra time with his family.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

St. Francis To Host Albie Cancer Benefit

By Steven Shaff

The St. Francis softball team will host the Albie Swingin’ for Life softball tournament Saturday, March 29 at St. Francis High School.

Six schools will participate in the breast cancer benefit sponsored by the Albie Aware Breast Cancer Foundation, including Davis Senior, Christian Brothers, Pioneer, River City and host St. Francis. Pioneer and River City will play at 11 a.m., followed by Davis Senior and Oak Ridge at 1 p.m. and Christian Brothers plays host St. Francis at 3 p.m. The suggested donation at the gate is $5 with all kids under 16 and breast cancer survivors wearing pink welcome without a donation.

There will also be a 50/50 raffle and BBQ supplied by the St. Francis Booster Club.

Albie Aware was created in 2002 in the memory of Albie Ciucci Carson, St. Francis Class of ‘65, who lost her battle with breast cancer. Despite Albie’s vigilance and post treatment follow-ups, she was not referred for additional, available screening modalities that would have shown that her cancer had spread. Albie’s husband, Doug Carson, created this foundation to help save the lives of other women and men by assisting with education and testing: things he felt were missing from Albie’s treatments.

Albie Aware is dedicated to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer through education, awareness, and testing. The Foundation provides support services to those diagnosed with breast cancer. In the past four years, the Albie Aware Swingin’ for Life games have raised more than $35,000 to support men and women diagnosed with breast cancer in the greater Sacramento Community.

For more information, contact Albie Swingin for Life Softball Tournament 11 a.m., Pioneer vs. River City 1 p.m., Davis Senior vs. Oak Ridge 3 p.m., Christian Brothers vs. St. Francis

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Podcast: PG Girls Head To State

On this week's podcast, I talk about Pleasant Grove's upset of Berkeley on Saturday and its upcoming state championship basketball game against Canyon Valley. Hear the post-game interview with head coach James McKeever.

PG Takes Girls' D-I NorCal Title, CO Loses To Folsom Boys

A Pleasant Grove basketball team will be playing in the State Championship game for the second year in a row.

Last year, it was the boys who won the CIF Division I title. On Friday, the girls’ team hopes to hang another state championship banner in the Pleasant Grove High School gymnasium.

“We want it above the boys’,” team leader Aaliyah Pena joked after leading the Eagles to a 51-42 upset win Saturday over three-time defending NorCal Regional champion Berkeley.

Much like the boys a year ago, the PG girls placed second in the Delta River League and were knocked out of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in the semi-finals by Oak Ridge. Still, they qualified for the NorCal portion of the post-season.

Pleasant Grove’s inprobable playoff romp continued as the number 11 seed. They won three NorCal playoff games by two points apiece and then furiously outscored a scrappy Yellowjacket squad, a team vying for its 13th NorCal Regional title.

In making its first NorCal championship game visit, the Eagles (25-9) overcame a 15-point first half by scoring 16 points in the third quarter and 20 more in the fourth period.

Cosumnes Oaks Loses In D-2 Boys' NorCal Final

For the second time in as many weeks Cosumnes Oaks just didn’t have the game necessary to overcome a very talented Bulldog team, which will now vie for its school’s second-ever State Championship this Saturday. With Alex Van Dyke in foul trouble, the Wolfpack just couldn't stop Folsom's disciplined attack, losing 68-51.

Folsom, now 32-2, will take on SoCal Division I Regional Champion St. John Bosco, a 72-55 winner of Compton. 

Here is the video of the post-game news conference, first with Cosumnes Oaks, then with Folsom.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

6-run Inning Gives EG Win Over PG; CRC Beats Modesto

Six runs by Elk Grove off Pleasant Grove starter Celina Matthias gave the Lady Herd a 9-3 win Thursday over the Eagles.

EG's Jazmine Moreno (#4) Vanessa Washington is the catcher

Elk Grove (4-4) has now won games over cross-city rivals Sheldon and Pleasant Grove this week after starting the season 0-4.

Morgan Evangelista was two-for-three for Elk Grove. Miranda Rodriguez went three-for-three.

Kimberly Wilburn picked up the win for the Herd.

Raeanna Young drove in all three Pleasant Grove (6-2) runs on a pair of doubles.
Morgan Evangelista who led off EG's sixth inning with a double 

CRC Defeats Modesto College

Drake Atlee was three-for-four with three RBI's to lead Cosumnes River College to a 9-8 win Thursday over Modesto College.

Elway Santistevan (2-0) earned the win in relief by pitching four-and-a-third strong innings.

The Hawks are now 14-6 overall, 2-3 in the Big 8 Conference.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NorCal Basketball - PG Girls Upset Monte Vista In OT, C Oaks Beats Grant

It took overtime, but the Pleasant Grove girls, 11th seed in Division I, defeated #7 Monte Vista, 56-54 in overtime Tuesday night.

This means they'll play Saturday at 2 p.m. against #4 Berkeley for the NorCal Championship. That game, like all the other NorCal games, are at Sleep Train Arena.

Playing for the boys' Division II championship at noon Saturday will be Cosumnes Oaks, a 87-67 winner over Grant.

The Wolfpack used a 25-6 first quarter to run back to Sleep Train where they lost to Folsom in the Sac-Joaquin Section's D-II championship. They'll get another shot at the Bulldogs, who edged by Serra of San Mateo, 58-57.

In Girls' Division III action, the Florin Panthers' season is over after losing in Redding to Enterprise, 54-47.

Baseball on Tuesday ...

Carlos Moseley drove in Nick Madrigal on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh as Elk Grove defeated Oak Ridge, 2-1. Chris Martin pitched six strong innings for the Herd. Ty Madrigal earned the win pitching the seventh inning.

Matt Stafford had a home run as Pleasant Grove defeated Davis, 7-1. Brett Elgin got the win on the mound for the Eagles.

Laguna Creek defeated Sheldon, 5-3, as Shaq Robinson pitched five good innings for the Cardinals.

On the community college level Cosumnes River defeated Modesto, 7-1, as Kyle Von Ruden earned the win. Tyler Blake was three-for-five at the plate for the Hawks.

One baseball note: Raymond Hernandez, a former Elk Grove and CRC pitcher, has hung up his spikes. His dad, Rick, told me Tuesday that his injured throwing shoulder just isn't recovering sufficiently.

He injured that shoulder his senior year at Elk Grove and hasn't been the same. He was drafted in the late rounds out of Fullerton State and played three seasons of minor league baseball in the Diamondbacks' organization.

Right now Raymond is with his older brother David in Australia where the Diamondbacks will be opening the Major League Baseball season. Rick says David is having a good spring as one of Arizona's top relievers.

Last year David was dealing with some personal issues, Rick said, and had an off-year but that is all behind him.

Raymond has a job with a local baseball academy as a pitching coach.

Softball ...

Kimberly Wilburn threw a six-hitter as Elk Grove defeated Sheldon Tuesday, 7-2. That is the first loss of the season for the Huskies.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Florin Girls Win First NorCal Playoff

Delayna Sampton made a mistake a week ago she'd like to forget. She fouled  Modesto Christian's Meagan Warwick right at the game's final buzzer, put her at the free throw line with a free chance to win a Section championship. Warwick made both tosses to win the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division III championship, 39-37.

After a stellar all-around performance in Florin's opening game in the NorCal tournament seven days later, a night that included several key shots, 23 points, timely free throws, blocked shots and rebounds, Sampton has put that foul on Warwick completely out of her mind.

She made just one bucket in that Section championship game (yet, grabbed 17 rebounds), so after Saturday's home game, a 49-44 win over Valley Christian of San Jose, she was all smiles.

"I still think there's more under the tank, but I think I played alright," Sampton said.

The Panthers, the No. 4 seed in Division III in NorCals,  made six of its nine shots in the third quarter to take the lead for good and defeat the Warriors, the first time ever Florin has won a NorCal playoff game on its home court.

While the Panthers were making shots in that third stanza, Valley Christian, the No. 5 seed, went cold. A team that thrives on its three-point shooting, the Warriors were only one-for-nine from beyond the arc in that quarter. In the first half, the Warriors were seven-for-17 with threes, nine-of-26 overall as both clubs were tied at 26 at halftime.

"We sprinted out to their shooters in the third quarter because that's where most of their points were coming from," Sampton said.

Sampton and Jikara Sellers made some key buckets early in the third quarter to set the tone for the rest of the game.

"Every team is going to have runs," Florin head coach Larry Price said. "We have to have stops to make our own runs. If we step to the line we have to convert or it will be like it was against Modesto Christian."

Valley Christian was forced to foul the Panthers in the final three minutes of the game to try to overcome a nine-point deficit. Florin responded by making five of six free throws. For the game, the Panthers were 12-of-18, a much better performance than the previous Saturday when Florin was just three-of-11.

Price, who pulled forward Desiree Dedrick off the floor a couple times in the first half to have impassioned discussions with her, plunked a big kiss on her forehead at the conclusion of Saturday's game.

"She has an injury right now and has fought through it," Price said. "She hasn't been to practice in two days, but I told her, 'Big up's to you, you fought through it. You made us a stronger team.' So, I had to give her something."

Dedrick had two key short turnarounds in the second quarter to bring Florin back after the Panthers got behind 23-17. That were her only four points of the contest.

Sellers finished with nine points, Rhianna Jackson had six while Kynnidi Ricardo chipped in five points.

The Panthers now must go on the road Tuesday to take on No. 1 seed in Division III, Enterprise of Redding, a team that is 27-2 this year. They defeated Patterson, 53-43, on Saturday.

"I don't care where we play," Sampton said. "I just want to get out, play hard and end our season with W's."

Batson Wins NCAA Indoor Championship In 200 Meters

Former Laguna Creek High School and American River College sprinter Diondre Batson won the national championship in the 200 meters Friday at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.

"Diondre had a fantastic day," Alabama head coach Dan Waters told the media afterwards. "He broke two records, one that was held by a gold medalist and one by another Olympian. He had two phenomenal runs."
Diondre Batson

Batson ran the 200 meters in 20.32 seconds, a school record and the sixth fastest in NCAA history. It is also the best 200 meters time in the world in 2014.

Moments before his win in the 200 meters, Batson won his heat in the 60-meter dash prelims with an Alabama school record of 6.54 seconds. On Saturday in the finals of the 60 meters he finished third with a time of 6.58 seconds.

Hoskins To Re-join Staff At CBS

Earlier this week Christian Brothers High School announced they had hired former Jesuit head football coach Dan Carmazzi as its new head coach, replacing George Petrissans who was hired to take over at Clovis West.

Friday, Carmazzi announced his offensive line coach at CBS will be ex-Elk Grove head coach Dave Hoskins.

Hoskins got his start as a high school coach in 1967 at Christian Brothers under Dick Sperbeck and stayed there through the mid-70's until Valley High School opened and he became the Vikings' first football coach.

In 1995, Hoskins was asked by then-Elk Grove athletic director Bob Mattos to join Ed Lombardi in a co-head coach arrangement. The Herd then won Section championships in 1997, 1998 and 2001, plus several Delta League titles until 2007 when Hoskins stepped down.

He spent the next five years as offensive line coach at Sacramento City College, taking the 2013 season off.

Carmazzi returned to CBS as an assistant football coach and athletic director in 2012 after spending 32 years as the head coach at Jesuit. He played for Sperbeck and Hoskins at Christian Brothers.

On The Diamonds ....

Valley Christian 4, Elk Grove 1 (8 innings)
Laguna Creek 13, McClatchy 3 (5 innings)
El Dorado 6, Cosumnes Oaks 5

Tonight on the Hardcourts ...

The Nor-Cal portion of the CIF Basketball Championships continue with Cosumnes Oaks hosting Leigh at 7 p.m. in boys' Division II play.

In girls', Florin hosts Valley Christian at 6 p.m. in Division III. I will be covering this game. Follow me on Twitter @EGSportsCorner.

Also, Bradshaw Christian hosts Piedmont in a Division IV playoff game.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Detrick Finishes 2nd, 3rd In Pro Waterskiing Events In Austrailia

Elk Grove's Brian Detrick skiing in Melbourne, Austrailia
Former Elk Grove High School athlete Brian Detrick earned a second and a third in a pair of professional water skiing events in Austrailia last week.

Detrick was third in the Moomba Masters Event in Melbourne. He then finished in second place at the 2014 Austrailian Open.

He recounts both events on his blog. For you water skiiers, it's a good read.

Detrick wrote about his second place finish in the Austrailian Open, where he and three others tied for first place after regular competition: "This was one of the most exciting events I have been a part of. I don’t think 4 guys or girls have ever tied for 1st Place in a Pro Tour Event. This was a huge weekend for myself, not only running 39 for the first time in a Pro Tour Event, but finishing 2nd is the highest I have placed in a Pro Tour Event. The field this year was very strong! I have put in a lot of hard work and time to train throughout the winter this year and it is an amazing feeling to see the results pay off. 
Detrick holds his second place trophy and his

$2500 prize.

Thursday Notes:

After starting the baseball season 10-0, Cosumnes River College has gone 2-5. On Thursday in Rocklin, the Hawks were defeated 4-3 by Sierra College.

On Friday, the two teams play again, but this time at CRC with the first pitch at 2:30 p.m.

In softball the Lady Hawks won a twinbill over Mendocino. They are now 11-6 on the season.

Victory Tournament At Bartholomew Park

Several area high school softball teams are competing again Friday at the Victory Tournament at Bartholomew Park in Elk Grove.

In the scores reported thus far:

Woodcreek 12, Elk Grove 2
Pleasant Grove 4, Christian Brothers 0
Pleasant Grove 13, Franklin 3
Cosumnes Oaks 7, El Camino 5
Christian Brothers 5, Cosumnes Oaks 4

Herd Baseball Hosts Valley Christian

Thundering Herd baseball has another tough test in Valley Christian of San Jose Friday with the first pitch set for 4 p.m. at Wackman Field.

Valley Christian is ranked third in Northern California by Cal Hi Sports.  The Herd is ranked second.

Laguna Creek will host McClatchy Friday. The Cardinals are 2-2 on the young season.

PG Rolls Franklin; Grubbs, Elgin Shine

It was breezy Wednesday afternoon, but the Pleasant Grove bats didn't mind as they opened their baseball season with a big 9-1 win over Franklin.

Brett Elgin threw a one-hitter at the Wildcats as Bronson Grubbs was two-for-four with a triple. Nico Toni also had a pair of hits with a double. Kellen O'Brine had three hits including a couple doubles.

Also on the diamonds Wednesday:

Cosumnes Oaks defeated El Dorado, 8-6. Kwiesi Samuel was four for four for the Wolfpack.

In Softball,  Pleasant Grove won its second in a row by defeat Enocks, 8-1. Vanessa Washington had a homer and a double. Alexa McCoin picked up the win and also drove in two runs by going three-for-three.

Sheldon defeated Franklin, 12-3. Anessa Kaylor had a double and a triple for the Huskies. Zamari Hinton was three-for-four.

Cosumnes Oaks beat River City, 11-3. Melia Roberts had a triple and two stolen bases for the Wolfpack.

The Victory Tournament begins today at Bartholomew Park in Elk Grove. Elk Grove, Pleasant Grove and Cosumnes Oaks will all participate.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Notebook: PG Softball Defeats EG, Soccer To Move To Winter?

In a showdown of two of the area's top softball programs, Pleasant Grove defeated Elk Grove Tuesday, 6-1. Celina Matthias had a great game on the mound for the Lady Eagles. Marisa Maligad had a good game at the plate for P.G.

Elk Grove will be hosting the Victory Preseason Tournament at Bartholomew Park beginning Thursday. The Herd will play Woodcreek and Vacaville on the first day.

Will Soccer Move ?

There's a rumor out there that both boys' and girls' soccer will move to the winter season, basically between November and February. Right now the boys play in the fall and girls in the spring.

This may make sense because many of the soccer players take their club teams more seriously and having the high school season during the winter may allow them to focus exclusively on the school team. Plus, it is really busy for Section people and officials, especially in the late spring when playoffs for softball, baseball, track/field, boys' golf is all happening at once.

As good as the weather is typically during the winter months around here, soccer won't be bothered much.

I can see this switch happening next school year.

PG vs. Franklin Baseball

If you are looking for a good local baseball game to attend Wednesday, head out to Franklin for its game against Pleasant Grove. It's the season opener for the Eagles, a team believed by many to battle Elk Grove, Jesuit and Davis for the Division I championship.

Crabtree To Coach Again

A class guy, Josh Crabtree, who has been an assistant principal at Sheldon the past year and is the school's former football coach, has signed on to be the offensive line coach at American River College under the Beavers' new head man, Jon Osterhout. According to the Bee's Joe Davidson, Osterhout has also hired Lou Biaz as his defensive coordinator.

Baiz has been the D-coordinator at Folsom High School the past two seasons. Prior to that both he and Osterhout were assistants at Sac State.

Walk-ons at Sac State

Davidson is also reporting in his Hometown Report that Sheldon quarterback Nolan Merker and Pleasant Grove quarterback Dre Terrell are both going to walk on at Sac State. Merker will likely stay at QB but Terrell will probably try to make the team as a defensive back.

They'll join Joey Banks and Jabarri Johnson from Franklin, Ernest Jenkins and Prentiss Johnson from Burbank and Tyler Meteer from Del Oro on the Hornets as coach Marshall Sperbeck is really stocking up with tons of local talent.

Banks Finishes Fifth At State Wrestling

Joey Banks’ hopes for an undefeated wrestling season and a California state championship ended abruptly Saturday when he lost a pair of matches and ended up placing fifth.

The Franklin High School senior  moved through the early rounds of the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield  on Friday with one sided victories at 195 pounds. He earned a major decision over Justin Parker of Clovis East, 17-8, in the opening round. Next, came another major decision, a 15-5 win over Connor Cole of Chester. That was followed by a 16-6 victory over Willie Amen of Las Lomas. He capped off Friday with a 3-2 decision over Josh Bailey of Frontier.
Franklin 195-pounder Joey Banks finished fifth
at the State Wrestling Championships Saturday
(photo by David Clarke)

That win placed him into the quarterfinals early Saturday, but that was where Banks’ string of victories came to a halt. The Division I-A and Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion lost to the eventual state champion, Ian Baker of La Costa Canyon, 4-2.

In his first consolation match, Banks dropped a 3-1 decision to Chandler Ramirez from Archbishop Mitty. That placed him into the fifth-place match and Banks defeated Matt Weiss of Clovis, 7-3.

That finish is the second-highest place of any Franklin wrestler. In 2010, Peter Anguiano was third at 285 pounds.

With his high school athletic career pretty much over, Banks will concentrate on preparing to play football for Sacramento State this fall.

Banks’ Franklin teammate, Josh Villaflor, was out early on the first day of the state championships. Also losing twice in the opening rounds were all three Elk Grove High School state qualifiers – Jacob Seto at 106 pounds, Kelani Tonge at 126 pounds and Sai Ta’amu at 220 pounds.

Ta’amu did win a pair of consolation matches after dropping a decision in the opening round Friday, but lost in his final match of the day to be eliminated from further competition.

There were four state champions from Sac-Jaoquin Section schools. They were brothers Israel and Emilio Saavedra of Modesto High School, Nick Fiegener of Folsom High School and Jeramy Sweany of Vacaville.

Israel won the title at 120 pounds while Emilio was the 138-pound champion. Fiegener took first place at 182 pounds. Sweany, who defeated Elk Grove’s Scott Votino to win at 195 pounds last year, took his second state championship wrestling this year at 220 pounds.

In the team standings, the state championship went to Clovis High School. Vacaville on the strength of Sweany’s championship and a second place by Gionn Peralta at 120 pounds, was fifth in the team standings.

Folsom was 11th overall. The Bulldogs won the Section’s team dual championship this year to go with the school’s basketball team’s Division II title and the football team’s D-II championship.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

EG Baseball Loses To St. Francis

(Editor's Note: Check back here at the Sports Corner later Sunday for a re-cap of how our EG-area grapplers did at the State Wrestling, plus we'll talk about our minor leaguers in spring training and have the opening round schedule for the Nor-Cal Basketball Tournament)

Elk Grove head baseball coach Jeff Carlson has always believed in scheduling games  with the best teams no matter where in California his teams have to travel.

The reason is simple – face the best competition, the best pitching and your team is better prepared when conference and post-season games begin.

It’s worked quite well for Carlson. His Thundering Herd teams have won six Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 14 seasons. So when Carlson scheduled this spring’s non-conference games he knew this season, his 15th at the Elk Grove helm, wouldn’t be any easier.

On the heels of another Division I championship and with a number 11 ranking in California, he opened the 2014 season with a 7-3 win over the school they faced in last year’s finals, St. Mary’s of Stockton.

Then Saturday his team traveled to Mountain View to play in one of the nicest high school baseball stadiums in all the state and against the top-ranked squad in Nor-Cal according to Maxpreps and CalHiSports, St. Francis. Plus, the Lancers’ are the defending Central Coast Section champions.

In a pitching dual between Elk Grove’s Ty Madrigal and the Lancers’ John Gavin, St. Francis eked out a 2-1 win over the Herd.

In that game the entire bottom level backstop was lined by baseball scouts watching not only the two lefties dual it out, but also watch Elk Grove’s stud centerfielder Derek Hill and St. Francis’ promising catcher Tim Susnara, both players who have signed national letters of intent to attend Oregon next year.

Neither one got a hit in the game, but the crowd was entertained with Gavin’s complete game two-hitter as his struck out seven Elk Grove batters, walking just one.

Madrigal ended up going five innings allowing just a pair of hits, struck out three and walked five. The junior had a bit of a rocky second inning where the Lancers scored their first run.

Blake Billinger lead off with a single, Tyler Deason drew a walk and Madrigal then hit Ryan McSwain. Jeremy Ydens followed with a sacrifice fly to score Billinger.

Elk Grove got its only run in the third after James Santos reached first on an error, went to second on Nick Madrigal’s ground ball out. Hill then stroked a ground ball to deep short and the throw went wide of first allowing Santos to score.

The game remained tied at one until the bottom of the sixth when Carlson went to the bullpen and brought in sophomore Austin del Chairo. The stage may have been a bit too much for his varsity debut as he proceeded to give up walk, sacrifice bunt, walk, a hit batter and a walk.

Senior right hander Cody Barnes was brought in to get Ryan Johnson to hit into a double play and end the inning.

On Wednesday, the Herd opened the season by riding the pitching of junior lefthander Chris Martin to a win over the Rams.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Foul At Final Horn Give Modesto Christian D-3 Title Over Florin

Modesto Christian’s little point guard Meagan Warwick scored only two points Friday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division III girls’ basketball championship game. But, those pair of free throws was the two most important points for her team all night.

The 5-6 freshman stood on a gimpy ankle with only 0.4 of a second on the clock and sunk two pressure free throws to hand the Crusaders a 39-37 win and her school’s sixth Section championship since 2006.

But ask Florin head coach Larry Price and those free throws should have never been attempted. He believed the referees got the call wrong. Price thought the final horn sound before Dalayna Sampton sent Warwick hard to the Sleep Train Arena floor, injuring her ankle.

“I don’t think (the call against Sampton) should have been made,” he said.

So incensed was Price that he was filling the ears of the guys in stripes as they left the floor while Modesto Christian’s players and fans were starting the celebration on the court. He was a bit more reserved when he spoke to reporters after the awards’ ceremony.

“So much happened in that short amount of time, you let us come back out here and go another quarter,” Price claimed. “That’s the way I look at it.”

But, two officials whistled the foul on Sampton, claiming it happened prior to the final horn. They had the clock operator put four-tenths of a second on the scoreboard.  Warwick swished both charity tosses.

An inbounds pass found Jikara Sellers just across the timeline and she did get off a shot, but it was way off the mark at the horn.

It was Florin’s second Section runner-up finish in as many years. The Panthers also made back-to-back visits to the championship game in 1996 and 1997.

Instead of a blue banner for the Florin gymnasium, the Panthers will now await the seeding of the Nor-Cal brackets for that portion of the post-season which begins this week. The four teams which made the semi-finals in each division throughout the Section will participate in the tournament.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Elk Grove Opens Baseball Season With Win

Twin brothers Nick and Ty Madrigal celebrated their 17th birthday with two hits apiece as Elk Grove opened its 2014 season with a 7-3 win over St. Mary's of Stockton.

Herd starter Chris Martin pitched five strong innings allowing just a bunt single and no runs, striking out five.

Madrigals' half-brother Brooks Day also had a pair of hits in his varsity debut.

The game pitted the two teams that played for the Section's Division I championship last season, won by Elk Grove.

Elk Grove will have a very stiff test Saturday when it travels to St. Francis of Mountain View, a state number-one ranked team by one poll.

Cosumnes Oaks Wins D-I Semis

Cosumnes Oaks talented basketball team, the one with only a single loss on the court yet 16 via forfeit, came from eleven points down to defeat Del Oro, 55-52, at Sleep Train Arena last night.

If it weren't for the new playoff format the Wolfpack wouldn't even be in the Section playoffs. Now, they'll face DRL champion Folsom for the Division II title Saturday night.

There is still the question whether this C.Oaks team was put together via recruiting by AAU coaches (the reason for the forfeits was that one player admitted in January to an athletically-motivated transfer) or are all the team members legitimately enrolled at the school? Readers of this blog have asked this question.

The Sacramento Bee ran a poll that was divided right down the middle on whether C. O. should have even been allowed in the playoffs, similar to the sanctions levied at Sheldon's basketball team in January.

What do you think? Please leave your comments.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Florin Upsets Top-Seeded Vanden, Reaches D-3 Finals

Florin High School’s fans probably thought their basketball season was over. They trailed top-seeded Vanden throughout most of their Division III Sac-Joaquin Section semi-final game Tuesday afternoon at Cosumnes River College.

With five minutes to go and down 35-31, Panther forward Rhianna Jackson fouled out. Coach Larry Price threw his arms up in disgust over the call. The fans moaned.

Would this be the end of the road for Florin, a team that was the Division II runner-up a year ago?

But, Jikara Sellers wasn’t going to quit. She hit a fall-away three-point jumper with 3:58 left in the game to bring the Panthers to within one at 35-34.

She rattled in another one just 28 seconds later to give Florin the lead for good. Price wasn’t throwing his hands up in disgust any longer.

“She was struggling with her shot and I told her to just keep trying and they’d fall for her,” he said. “That was a big shot and it turned the momentum around to our side.”

The Panthers held on the rest of the way to defeat Vanden, 45-38, return to a Section championship game for the second year in a row. They'll play either Patterson or Modesto Christian for the D-3 title Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena.

Listen to my post-game interview with Price:

Bee Ranks EG #1 In Baseball, PG #1 in Softball

The Sacramento Bee has released its first rankings of the spring season and Elk Grove's baseball and Pleasant Grove's softball teams have been ranked number one in their respective polls.

Pleasant Grove's baseball team has been placed number two in the pre-season list with Franklin eight and Bradshaw Christian 15.

The Herd and the Pride are defending Section champions in their divisions.

Interesting that on Monday Elk Grove scrimmaged both #4 Granite Bay and #5 Oak Ridge and did quite well against them.

Pleasant Grove will be a part of the Boras Baseball Classic, hosted by Elk Grove, during spring break and thus it is likely those two will meet somewhere along the way during that tournament.

Elk Grove is also ranked #11 in the state by CalHiSports. The Herd will officially throw out the first pitch, weather permitting, on Wednesday at Wackman Field against St. Mary's, the team they defeated last spring for the Section championship.

In softball, the Lady Herd is ranked fourth, Sheldon fifth and Cosumnes Oaks 14th by the Bee.

The top-ranked Eagles return the core of the team that finished second to Vintage last spring in the Section championship tournament. This year Celina Matthias and Vanessa Washington lead a very potent team under new co-head coaches Bob Book and Russ Petit.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Ramirez Grabs Third At Girls' State Wrestling Championships

by David Clarke

Elk Grove High School sophomore Annastassia Ramirez placed third at the Girls' State Wrestling Championships over the weekend.  She went 5-1 with five pins. Her only loss was to second place Angellica Llanes of Mira Monte in the semi-finals match. 

Llanes then lost in the finals match. She is now a three-time state runner-up. 
Annastassia Ramirez grabbed a third place medal at the
Girls' State Wrestling championships March 1.

In the consolation semi-finals Annastassia pinned last years third-place wrestler Sabrina Sandoval of Porterville. Then in the third place match she pinned Victoria Smith from Brawley.

Annnastassia finished the year with a 31-3 record losing only to the state champion Lauren Mason from Woodcreek HS twice and the state runner-up. 

Mason was the only champion from the SJS/North Section.

Annastassia's brother Martin was a third-place finisher in the boys wrestling championships in 2011. They are one of the few brother-sister combos to medal in the state championships.

Elk Grove finished in 29th place as a team out of more than 200 teams.

Albany HS won the team championship, the first time a team outside of Los Angeles has won the championship.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Banks Takes Masters Title at 195 Pounds

Joey Banks is about five wrestling matches away from accomplishing his next goal as a stellar Franklin High School athlete – an undefeated season and a CIF State Wrestling Championship.

Banks rolled right through his 195-pound opponents Friday and Saturday at the Stockton Arena to take the Sac-Joaquin Masters’ Championship in his weight group, the second Franklin grappler to win this honor. 

The first was Peter Anguiano who won the Masters’ title in 2010 at 285 pounds. Unlike Banks, Anguiano has just one defeat going into the state meet, that to Elk Grove’s Lefi Letuligasenoa at the Delta Valley Conference championships.

Lefi eventually won the state title that year while Anguiano placed third.

Banks defeated one of his toughest opponents, Jesuit’s Erik Medina, 4-2 in overtime to grab the Masters gold medal. He is now 25-0 this year in individual matches. 

“He looked really, really good up to the (Masters’) final,” Franklin wrestling coach Fred Marks said. “He didn’t look all that bad (against Medina), but was just cautious. (Banks) is so fast that when he wants to score, he’ll score.”

Banks, who will play football at Sacramento State in the fall, will now preparing for the always-grueling state wrestling meet that begins Thursday in Bakersfield.

“Right now he’s ranked sixth in the state,” Marks said. “He’s so fast and so explosive there’s no way he can’t place.”

Banks won’t be the only Wildcat in Bakersfield this year. Grabbing a third place at the Masters at 126 pounds was Josh Villaflor.

Villaflor, a junior, will be going to Bakersfield for the third time. He was seventh two years ago and third a year ago. Both times he wrestled at 120 pounds.

“Josh had a terrible first match (at Stockton),” Marks said. “Devon Sookhoo of Enochs had him on his back a bunch and scored about eight straight points.”

Villaflor lost the match and then won seven in a row to grab the third place medal.

Franklin finished with 68.5 points to end up 11th overall. Elk Grove placed 10th as a team with 68 points.