Saturday, May 30, 2015

Locals Shine At Section Masters Track

At age 13, Kara Smith may be the youngest competitor ever to compete at the CIF State Track and Field Championships this week in Clovis. The Franklin High School freshman turned in one of the gutsiest performances of the Sac-Jaoquin Section’s Masters Track and Field Championships Friday night at Elk Grove High School to earn her that trip south.

About 50 meters from the finish of the girls’ 800 meter run, Smith found some extra energy to snake around three runners and finish in third place in the event. 
Franklin freshman Kara Smith

“I was a bit nervous at the start so when I started I just thought I might as well go ahead and try,” Smith said. Try she did running the 800 meters in 2:15.64.

That was good enough for Smith to qualify for a trip this week to Buchanan High School, site of the State Track Meet, which will get underway June. 5.

She’ll turn 14 in September, so next year she’ll once again be one of the youngest members of the Wildcat track team.

“I’m really excited I have made it this far,” Smith said.

The top individual performance of local athletes in the finals of the Section Masters meet, though, came from Cosumnes Oaks senior Natsumi Mcgee. She won the 200 meter dash, finished second to Pleasant Grove sophomore Rae’vyn Lawler in the 100 meters and was a part of the Wolfpack’s 4x100 meter relay team that placed third plus the 4x400 meter squad that took third.

That means she’ll be competing in four events when she arrives in Clovis this week.

Mcgee said the 200 meters was her best event and it showed by running the race in 24.90 seconds. Lawler’s time was 25.10 seconds.

Mcgee crosses the finish line of the 200 meters
“I was feeling really good tonight,” Mcgee said. “I’m glad I qualified for state. That was my only goal.”

The 4x100 relay squad of Mcgee, Evy Banales, Imani Parker and Mishaye Venerable took the bronze medal with a run of 48.15 seconds.
Lawler, whose mother, Gaylon Ndia, was a track star several years ago at Burbank, was impressive in winning the 100 meters in 12.08 seconds. That wasn’t her fastest this year. She has cracked the 12-second mark on a couple occasions.

“I feel like I am getting stronger and I am so excited because this is my first year of running,” Lawler said.

She said she wasn’t much into track until she began watch Allison Felix videos.

“I watch her videos every time before I run, “ Lawler said. Felix won two gold medals and two silver medals in the 2012 Olympics.

Lawler thinks running in the state meet will be a real challenge. 
Lawler noses out Mcgee to win the 100 meters

“Even if I come in last place, it will be an honor to be there,” she said. “I am actually the first girl from Pleasant Grove to go to state.”

Equally as impressive on Friday were several members of Sheldon’s track team. Huskies’ 110-meter hurdler Jonathan Perry ran a personal best of 14.40 seconds to finish second and earn himself a trip to Clovis.

He was all grins afterwards.

“It was a really good race and I was lucky to be that close,” Perry said. “I sat a new personal record, represented my school and God.”

His Sheldon teammate Marcus Beloney was equally impressive in the boys’ 400 meters. He finished just behind Myles Ellis of Antelope. Beloney’s time was 47.68 seconds.

Oregon-bound 400-meter runner Cameron Stone, also from Sheldon, had to sit out much of the track post-season with a bad hamstring pull.

Beloney was a part of the winning 4x100 relay team from Sheldon. The others were Stephon Rhodes, Elias Brown and Erick Spivey. They spun the 400-meter track in a time of 41.91 seconds.

Pleasant Grove will send their 4x100 meter relay squad to State led by Lawler, along with Tori Davis, Ele Avery and Mia Daniels. They took gold at the Masters with their time of 47.72 seconds.

But, the one single performance that literally had the fans on their feet was the 3200-meter run by Davis’ Fione O’Keefe. From the gun she was well in front of the crowd. By the seventh lap of the eight-lap event, O’Keefe was lapping slower runners.

She sprinted the final 100 meters to the tape to set a new Section Masters’ meet record of 10:00.85, five seconds faster than the previous record set in 2008 by Lauryne Chetelat, also from Davis. O’Keefe’s performance on Friday was the third-best 3200 meter run in the nation this season.

Franklin’s 4x400 meter relay team of Smith, along with Cecily Montanez, Amari Smith and Tatiana Jimenez took first place at the Masters with a time of 3:50.92.

The Wildcat boys’ 4x100 meter squad also took a second place medal in that event. Their time was 42.90 seconds. Members of that team were Donny Terry III, Ugo Dike, Jordan Tillis and Jordan Booth.

In the field events Monterey Trail’s Amber Cook placed first at the Masters with a leap of 38 feet, 1.75 inches. Second was Amada Brooks of Franklin. Those two will go to State.

Franklin’s Phillip Fayne was second in the high jump with a leap of six feet, nine inches to qualify for Clovis.

Cosumnes Oaks’ long jumper Mishaye Venerable, who placed 11th last year at the State meet, once again qualified with a best leap of 18 feet, four-and-a-half inches.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Back In Time For Baseball Finals, Masters Track

I left California a little more than a week ago with the sun shining. I didn't see the sun until Memorial Day when I returned to our state.

In between I was attending to family business in Louisiana and Kansas, dodging rain drops. I did take a moment, thanks to my sister, to attend a Royals/Cardinals game at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City, but it rained lightly throughout the game.
Display honoring Hall-of-Famer George Brett at the Kansas City
Royals' Kaufman Stadium

What impressed me so was the quality of entertainment a major league baseball game brings, not just some quality baseball. Plus, I walked through the Royals' Hall of Fame. It had their 1985 World Series Championship trophy in there along with displays honoring their retired jerseys - former manager Dick Howser, thirdbaseman George Brett and secondbaseman Frank White.

Brett was probably one of the two top lefthanded hitters ever, the other being Ted Williams. Playing in Kansas City perhaps lost him the fame he was owed.

White won a ton of Gold Gloves while Howser was their manager in their glory days in the 1980s. I remember seeing Howser play third base for the Yankees in 1968. He used to saw off the top of hit bats.

The 2015 edition of the Royals are quite good, but I wonder a bit about their starting pitching.

Congrats To Sheldon, EG Softball

While I was gone I missed Sheldon's big win over Vacaville in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I championship game. What was so impressive was how well balanced the Huskies were this year and just about everyone will be back next year. They'll have to rely on some young talent in the circle, yet with Joe Jacques as the pitching coach, we know there will be a quality pitcher that will step up.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sheldon Makes It To D-I Championship Game

Imagine your softball team down 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Now imagine your team ties the game up scoring most of those runs with two outs.

Next, if you can, imagine you head into extra innings and the winning run is on base and it’s up to you to come through with two outs.

For Sheldon’s Sarah Fukishima she didn’t imagine any of this at all on Monday night. In fact, she was right in the middle of all the dramatics that happened for her and her Huskies teammate.

Fukishima had a two-out single to start Sheldon’s comeback in the seventh inning and then stroked a ball to the centerfield fence at the Sacramento Softball Complex scoring Jordan Fines from first base with the winning run in the eighth inning to hand the Huskies a 7-6, 8-inning win over Vacaville.

“Once I was in the batters’ box, I felt comfortable,” Fukishima described the big at-bat. “That calmed me down, knowing my team was behind me. That made it easier on me. It was incredible. I knew Jordan was going to (score from first base) knowing her speed.”

The game was the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I semi-final game. So, with the win Sheldon will play Wednesday night for its sixth Section championship in softball and its first banner since 2012.

Vacaville (19-10 overall) is still alive in the double-elimination tournament but must come back through the losers’ bracket, taking on the winner of River City and Woodcreek Tuesday at 7 p.m.

That game’s victor will have to beat Sheldon twice on Wednesday to win the Section championship.

Almost stunned by her team’s come-from-behind win, head coach Mary Jo Truesdale was quite matter-of-fact when reflecting on what her team accomplished against the defending Division I champion and their ace pitcher, Katie Kibby.

“It was a great battle, it really was,” Truesdale remarked. “This team is a real family. They are not ever going to give up.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sheldon, Franklin Score Opening Round Wins

Saturday Results:

Sheldon 9, River City 1
Sheldon 11, Bella Vista 8 (Huskies now into Monday's semi-finals vs. Vacaville, 7 p.m.

Pitman 9, Franklin 1
Woodcreek 3, Franklin 0 (Franklin eliminated)

It was pretty much business as usual last Thursday.

Sheldon, a team very much accustomed to playing annually in mid-May in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I softball playoffs, ignored occasional raindrops and lightning in the dark eastern skies to register a 10-0 blowout win over 15th-seeded Kennedy.

The game was stopped in the fifth inning when the second-seeded Huskies registered its tenth run on junior Jordan Fines’ RBI ground ball. 
Franklin's Taylor Keinath strokes a double in the Wildcats' 17-8 win over Enochs

The Sheldon girls, almost methodically – if that’s possible in high school softball- exchanged congratulations with each other, with the overmatched Cougars and then giggled in a brief team huddle while head coach Mary Jo Truesdale handed out her traditional winning marbles to her players. They were green and yellow, the Kennedy school colors.

The tougher opponents lay ahead for the Huskies as Sheldon tries for its sixth Section championship in softball and its first since 2012. It was time to get out of the cold and rain and warm up for No. 7 River City, its next opponent, as the playoffs now become a double-elimination affair.

Fines, a Cal-commit, who drove in two runs with three hits, one an RBI double in Sheldon’s six-run third inning, said he’s confident the Huskies will be playing right up to Wednesday’s championship round at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

“We have a pretty good chance, but I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want to jinx it,” she quipped.

Sheldon pitcher Gabby Montaie warmed up for the post-season by throwing four innings of hitless ball before sophomore Taliyah Miles got a chance to throw in the fifth inning.

Friday, May 15, 2015

EG Makes D-2 Quarters With Walk Off Win Friday

Saturday's score: Elk Grove 1, Del Campo 0

The Herd faces #1 seed Benicia Monday at 7 p.m. in the semi-finals

Lindsay Lambert has never done it before in her young softball career. Her seeing-eye ground ball single that drove in the winning run in Elk Grove’s 6-5 victory over Tracy Friday night not only was a personal first, but perhaps her biggest hit ever.

Lambert, a .462 batter in this, her senior season, said she knew she needed to come through with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and the winning run on third in order to put the Herd into the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division II quarter-finals on Saturday.

“I was just trying to get on base, get a base hit to the right side,” Lambert said. “It felt really good.”
Lindsay Lambert is all smiles after delivering a walk-off single

Victoria Saborio led off the inning by taking a pitch by Mikayla Coelho off her shoulder. She went to second on Courtney Riley’s sacrifice bunt and two pitches later was on third thanks to a wild pitch.

Saborio then scored when Lambert’s hit squeaked through the right side of the infield and the celebration on a cool night at the Sacramento Softball Complex began.

Elk Grove, the #2 seed in the tournament, took a 5-3 lead to the top of the seventh inning but Haley Nunez and Rachel Cid led off the frame with back-to-back singles off Elk Grove winning pitcher Miranda Miles. But, unlike what happened to the Herd in the previous two innings where double plays got Elk Grove out of trouble and ended a Tracy rally, luck ran out on head coach Jeff Alexander’s players.

“I had told the kids we’ve got to score some runs for I knew they were going to score runs,” he said. “We got out of some jams with some nice double plays.”

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Alexander - "This Is a Major, Major Black Eye For CIF"

The Sac-Joaquin Section softball playoffs will be underway Wednesday with Division I through III competing at the Sacramento Softball Complex. One might think Elk Grove head coach Jeff Alexander would be glad his team got a bit of a break with its placement in the D-2 bracket after years of being a top-contender in Division I.

Well, not exactly.

“This is a major, major black eye for CIF as far as I’m concerned,” Alexander claimed. 
EGHS Softball coach Jeff Alexaander

As it has with football for six seasons now, the Section decided this spring it would set up softball post-season by school enrollment. The 16 largest high schools in the Section that qualified for the playoffs would be put into Division I, the next 16 into Division II and so forth.

In the past, each league was designated to one particular division and generally its top three schools would qualify for the post-season. This year, though, some leagues got four schools into the playoffs. The Delta League, where most of the Elk Grove Unified schools compete, and the Sierra Football League both got five into the post-season.

Thus, with quite a number of big schools qualifying for the playoffs the Thundering Herd was shoved down into Div-II for the first time. The other Delta qualifiers – Sheldon, St. Francis, Pleasant Grove and Franklin – are all in Division I. Elk Grove is seeded second despite winning the Delta with a perfect 14-0 mark and going 24-2 overall.

Defending D-2 champion Benicia was handed the top seed.

“Everybody is outraged,” Alexander continued. “The way CIF did it doesn’t make any sense. It isn’t necessarily the ones that moved down, it’s the ones that were moved up. Kennedy and McClatchy being in D-1. No disrespect, but they are going to get smoked.”

Traditionally the Metro League schools have been in Division II, but Thursday night in the D-1  the Cougars, seeded 15th, play Sheldon. McClatchy, a ten-seed, takes on St. Francis in the single-elimination opening round.

The rest of the playoff brackets will be double-elimination.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

CRC Baseball/Softball Advance

Cosumnes River College's baseball and softball squads survived the opening round of the California Community College playoffs last weekend and will resume action on Friday.

The baseball team, seeded ninth in Northern California,  travels to #3 Feather River College for a best two-out-of-three playoff Friday and Saturday. The Hawks beat Galivan College in two straight games last weekend to advance to this weekend's play.

The softball enters the "super regional" round at Sierra College Friday.  The Lady Hawks will face Cabrillo College late Friday afternoon in a double elimination playoff with Sierra College and Shasta College. The championship game or games will be played Sunday at Sierra.

The Lady Hawks (28-11 this season) won the Big 8 Conference this year thanks to the contribution of many Elk Grove-area players. Kaitlin Pires (Elk Grove H.S.) and Brianna Cherry (Cosumnes Oaks H.S.) were both big contributors at the plate.

EG Wins Delta Softball, Will Enter Div. II Playoffs

The official brackets for the softball playoffs won't be released until sometime Thursday afternoon, but it appears Elk Grove, a perennial contender for the Division I championship, will be in Division II for the post-season.

For the first time ever, softball in the Sac-Joaquin Section will make its playoff brackets just like it has with football since 2009. In the set-up, the top three or four teams in each league will qualify for the post-season (the Delta League and the Sierra Foothill League will each get five playoff participants, though) and then the biggest 16 schools will be placed in the Division I bracket.

The next 16 biggest schools, by enrollment, will be put into Div. II and so on. Division IV will have 12 participants. Division V, VI and VII will each have eight competitors.

Because the Sac-Joaquin Section covers as far south as Merced and as far west at Vallejo, this means D-1 will contain the biggest EGUSD schools (Franklin, Pleasant Grove and Sheldon) along with Enochs, Gregori and Downey in Modesto, St. Mary's, Tracy and Tokay, plus just about all the SFL teams with the possible exception of Del Oro. Throw in the MEL schools like Vintage and Vacaville and D-1 is full.

That would shove the Herd, a perfect 14-0 and champions in the first year of the renewed Delta League, into Div. 2.

They should dominate.

It would also make Div. 1 real interesting with Sheldon (12-2 in the Delta) a favorite alongside Woodcreek, which suffered only one loss this season.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Delta League Swim Championships Results

Delta League Girls Swimming and Diving Championships -

Team Standings – St. Francis, 552; Davis, 494; Pleasant Grove, 254; Franklin, 191; Elk Grove, 162.5; Sheldon, 100.5; Monterey Trail, 87.

200-Yard Medley Relay – Davis, 1:51.64; 200-Yard Freestyle – Mitchell, SF, 1:54.94; 200-Yard IM – Barksdale, D, 2:04.53; 50-Yard Freestyle – Spikes, PG, 24.45; 100-Yard Butterfly – Motekaitis, D, 58.71; 100-Yard Freestyle – Hargadon, D, 53.89; 500-Yard Freestyle – Mitchell, SF, 5:03.79; 200-Yard Free Relay – Davis, 1:40.61; 100-Yard Backstroke – Adkins, D, 59.85; 100-Yard Breaststroke – Leacox, D,  1:07.91; 400-Free Relay – Davis, 3:42.43. Diving – Wong, SF, 468.0.

Delta League Boys Swimming and Diving Championships -

Team Standings – Jesuit, 554; Davis, 548; Elk Grove, 227; Franklin, 207; Sheldon, 99; Pleasant Grove, 93; Monterey Trail, 65.

200-Yard Medley Relay – Davis, 1:37.69; 200-Yard Freestyle – Hickman, D, 1:40.81; 200-Yard IM – Wright, D, 1:58.85; 50-Yard Freestyle – Chenkovich, J, 21.74; 100-Yard Butterfly – Johnson, J, 51.31; 100-Yard Freestyle – Dickens, D, 47.71; 500-Yard Freestyle – Hickman, D, 4:37.85; 200-Yard Free Relay – Jesuit, 1:27.48; 100-Yard Backstroke – Fisk, D, 52.78; 100-Yard Breaststroke – Dickens, D, 1:00.09; 400-Free Relay – Davis, 3:10.50.