It's the big day for many high school athletes. The NCAA National Letter-of-Intent “early signing” day across the country was Wednesday with several locals making their collegiate choices official.
The seven-day “early signing period,” which runs through Nov. 18, is called that because most of the student/athletes are committing prior to their senior season in high school. Hundreds of baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, track and field and volleyball players made their collegiate commitments nationwide this day.
Football players will sign beginning Feb. 3 and then there will be the official signing period for the other sports starting April 13. In recent years, though, many of the high-profile athletes have used this week in November to make their commitments.
Because of the Veterans' Day holiday; Elk Grove High School held its own signing ceremony Thursday evening in the school library. Topping the list of signees was senior baseball player Dylan Carlson, who has committed to play at Fullerton State.
|EGHS' Dylan Carlson signed with Fullerton State
The Titans made it to the College World Series last year, its eighth appearance since 1999. That was what attracted Carlson to the school.
“Fullerton is a baseball school, it reminds me of Elk Grove,” Carlson said. “Baseball is the thing everyone loves. They’ve got a great fan base. I love the coaches. It’s the place I’ve always wanted to play growing up.”
With no football program at Fullerton, the students come out in big numbers at the baseball games.
“That’s one thing that made me fall in love with it,” Carlson said. “The place is packed. Everyone knows who you are.”
He’ll follow former Herd players Raymond Hernandez, J.D. Davis and Jared Deacon who played at Fullerton.
Carlson is considered one of the top first basemen in the country coming out of high school. He is the oldest son of Herd baseball coach Jeff Carlson.
In Titan head coach Rich Vanderhook he sees some similarities between his dad and “Coach Hook.”
“They’re both tough, you’ve got to get the job done,” Carlson said. “They know what they are talking about. It’s a similar style.”
Teammate Josh Urps signed with Sacramento State on Thursday. Another EGHS baseball player, Alex Zalasky, signed with Concordia University.
Also making college commitments were softball players Miranda Miles (Texas A&M) and Kiana Evans (Holy Names), along with soccer players Jessy Santos and Skylar Houze, both going to Cal State - East Bay.
At Bradshaw Christian, there was a ceremony for softball player Kimmie Uher who inked with Truman State University in Missouri and for Ramia Griffin, a basketball player, who will play collegiately at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.
|Bradshaw's Kimmie Uher ( 2nd from left) and Ramia Griffin (right)
Griffin may become one of the very few athletes locally to win four Section championships in one sport in high school. The Pride has won three Section girls’ basketball titles and shape up to be one of the best teams in Division IV this winter.
Uher is a two-time All-Sierra Delta League selection and last year batted .555.
Wednesday morning, St. Francis had a large signing ceremony of its own. Thirteen girls simultaneously signed their letters. Included in that group was Elk Grove resident Mel Baccay, a softball player who committed to Michigan State University.
“They have a family aspect to the program,” said Baccay. “I’ve built a really strong relationship not only with the girls on the team but with my coaches.”
Baccay will play for Jacquie Joseph, who has led the Spartan program since 1994 and amassed over 700 career wins and made four NCAA regional appearances.
“I was looking for schools that met both my academics and athletics needs,” Baccay said. “Michigan State being part of the Big10 has great athletics with the resources to be successful academically.”
Baccay was named to the All-Delta League first team as a junior and was the team’s Most Inspirational Player. She hit .571 in league play (4th-best) and posted a .447 overall mark for the season with a team-best tying 30 RBI.
She verbally committed to Michigan State during her sophomore year at St. Francis.
“I am so excited to sign,” said Baccay. “It has been so long. First there was the wait to get recruited and make a commitment, finding a school that is eight for me. Now that I have found it, making it official will make all the hard work worth it.”
Sheldon hosted its signing ceremony Wednesday. Three softball players - Jordan Fines, Jessica Scott and Sarah Fukushima - and one baseball player, Matt Manning, signed their letters.
Fines has committed to Cal, Fukushima to Cal State - East Bay and Scott to Sacramento State. In the 19 seasons that Mary Jo Truesdale has coached softball at Sheldon, this trio makes the 24th, 25th and 26th players to sign National Letters-of-Intent to play at a four-year school.
|(from left) Jessica Scott, Coach Mary Jo Truesdale, Sarah Fukushima and Jordan Fines
Fines actually committed to Cal’s long-time coach Diane Ninemeier her freshman year in high school.
“Coming from the Lady Magic (her tournament team), it was family-oriented and I got that same vibe at Cal,” she said.
She said she grew up around Jolene and Danielle Henderson, both former Sheldon Huskies and Cal Bears, and that also affected her decision to play in Berkeley.
“My dad grew up with Joe Henderson (the girls’ father) and I got to hang around with Jolene,” Fines said. “I got to see her personality and how Cal helped shape that.”
Fukushima, an outfielder, felt playing at East Bay in Hayward would let her play collegiately close to family.
“It was a good fit,” she said. “I loved the school environment and really like its diversity which is really important to me.”
Scott, the Huskies’ catcher, will join another former Sheldon player, Zamari Hinton, at Sacramento State.
“We played together for two years here at Sheldon,” she said. “It’s close to home and I like the environment at Sac State. It works for me.”
Manning, who is also a big major league baseball prospect as a pitcher, signed with Loyola-Marymount. Playing in several showcase tournaments the past few months he’s shown a fastball clocked at 95 mph and a wicked curveball.
“It’s been unbelievable the past few weeks,” he said.
But, college baseball is in Manning’s plans.
|Sheldon pitcher Matt Manning
“LMU, (pitching) Coach (Dan) Ricabal has been calling me every day,” he said. “It’s the right spot for me and the area is just perfect.”
The Lions were the runner-ups in the West Coast Conference last season.
Early Thursday morning Elk Grove Unified School District had one large ceremony with all these student/athletes present plus:
Pleasant Grove - Sienna Young, volleyball, St. Mary's University
Franklin - Riki DesJarlais, soccer, Dominican University
Franklin - Taylor Lemmond, soccer, Oregon State University
Franklin - Peyton Rawls, softball, Barry University
Cosumnes Oaks - Leanne Newell, volleyball, UC - Riverside
Cosumnes Oaks - Jennifer Palmares, softball, Cal State - East Bay
Cosumnes Oaks - Myan Oden, soccer, Cal State - Bakersfield