Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best of 2016 in Sports Photos

I would encourage you to take a look at who we've honored locally in the Citizen's Best of 2016. Here's a link to the Citizen website and the photo essay.

Thanks for reading the Citizen this past year and it is my hope we serve you greatly, again, in 2017.

John Hull
Sports Editor

Friday, November 04, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Girls Open Golf Season At Emerald Lakes

The high school golf season got its start Wednesday afternoon with the annual Loren Roberts Golf Tournament, a 9-hole scrimmage that brings in all the girls golf teams from throughout the Elk Grove school district.

Grace Glaeser, senior, Cosumnes Oaks
The event honors Loren Roberts, a PGA Senior Tour golfer who heard about the plight of athletics in Elk Grove several years ago and donated money to keep golf alive in the school district after it was announced that funding for the sport would be cut.

Megan Mawson, Jr., Cosumnes Oaks
The scores aren't officially posted for Wednesday's outing at Emerald Lakes Golf Club because it is still considered to be a pre-season event. Most of the high school girls, though, will start dual matches in less than two weeks.

The two top girls in the city weren't competing today: Courtney Cervellin, a sophomore at Franklin has a knee injury, and Jillian Knox, a junior at Elk Grove.

Follow the girls golf teams as they compete this season on both the Sports Corner and

Ashley Cho, Franklin
Alexis Karnow, Sophomore, Pleasant Grove

Ari Samuel, Pleasant Grove

Monday, August 22, 2016

Prep Football Season Kicks Off Friday

All the weightlifting in the spring, the sweating during seven-on-seven drills in the summer and the drills of the past three weeks consummate tonight with the kickoff of the 2016 high school football season.
Just about every Elk Grove-area team is in action this Friday. Pleasant Grove will travel to Ventura College for a game against Bakersfield High School on Saturday and Florin and Valley will start their seasons next Friday.
But, for the other six local teams the butterflies are already fluttering in the gut of players and coaches.
The marching bands and cheerleaders have been rehearsing, too, because the football season offers them a chance to shine. Every one of those squads does things a little different, but overall the first football game in high school generally is the mark that the school year is underway.

Elk Grove vs. Inderkum

Arguably the most successful local football team of the last five seasons, the Thundering Herd still stings from disappointing Sac-Joaquin Section championship game losses three out of the last four years, including a loss last season to Folsom, a team they scrimmaged last Saturday to inflict, perhaps, some revenge. 
EGHS Coach Chris Nixon

“The past five or six years we’ve had a summer contact camp for a week where we’ve been able to flush some of that out,” Nixon said. “We did not get that opportunity this year and this year more than other years we’ve got some young guys in key positions.”
Elk Grove has a record of 59-9 over that five year span of time. Three offensive linemen from last season’s 13-1 team will probably start Sept. 2 when American River College opens its season. Diego Cervantes, Ben Davis and Trevor Reinwald have made a positive impression for Beavers’ coach Jon Osterhout. Nixon thinks there might be more good linemen ready to take those guys’ places.
“We’ve got guys coming up in key positions,” Nixon said. “Jake Bellecci has been our tight end for three years. Solid there. Jon Pochop is right there in line as far as senior linemen who control the line of scrimmage as guys in the past have done. He’s another three-year starter at tackle for us. Ryan Vierra hasn’t had as many reps at center, but came in and bailed us out at center in the St. Mary’s game (in 2014). We have a lot of confidence in him.”
Of course, Nixon is looking to replace a 2,800-yard plus back in Ryan Robards who is now preparing to play baseball at the University of Pacific.
“We’ve got bodies there to fill in,” he said. “Our fullback who will be there will be as dominant as anyone we’ve had there in George Spithorst. He’s definitely someone to reckon with at fullback.”
And, expect the Herd to be throwing the ball a little more than they normally do with returning quarterback Jayden Machado and wide receiver Gavin Reinwald leading the way.
“We will be throwing the ball a little more because we have that experienced bunch to rely on,” Nixon said. “In the Folsom game they showed they can move the ball down the field efficiently throwing it. I think we can do that and it will keep defenses off balance.”
This opening game at Inderkum will be a great litmus test for how good Elk Grove will be. The Tigers are expected to be a contender for the Section’s Division III championship.

Bradshaw Christian vs. Kennedy

The other local football team with a high success record is Bradshaw Christian. The Pride has won Division VI Section titles in all odd-number years since 2009, but this is an even-numbered year. Head coach Drew Rickert wants to change that pattern and has quite a number of key contributors to last year’s squad back again. Guys like Mateo Bromstead and Britton Wheatley will lead a talented backfield on both sides of the ball for the Pride. 
BCHS coach Drew Rickert

Even though they take on Kennedy, a Division I school from the Metro Conference, don’t be surprised the Pride wins this game. The Cougars have improved greatly the past three seasons or so, but they’ll have to stop a very good running attack that Bradshaw possesses.

Sheldon vs. Woodcreek

Most Sacramento-area football fans will be watching with interest as the Joe Cattolico era starts at Sheldon. After nine years of success including one Section championship and two runner-up finishes at Pleasant Grove, Cattolico brings some stability and an excellent methodology to the Huskies.
The move of schools has actually gone well for Cattolico.
“It’s a change,” he admitted. “The biggest thing for me is just to try to learn. Every campus is different on how they do things. That’s still a work in progress at least for me, but I’ve tried to be adaptable.”
But, on the practice field earlier this week, the players seem to have responded well to Cattolico and his coaches, most of them also new to Sheldon.
“This is the fourth varsity program I’ve coached at and either everywhere has had good kids or I’ve been fortunate to hit four places in a row that have had good kids,” he said. “They are responding and really listening and do what we ask them to do and given maximum effort to do it.”
Cattolico will coach the defensive side of the ball while his father, Butch, heads up the offense.
“I’m coaching with guys I’ve coached with before,” Joe said. “That part is good because we’ve been together and we’re on the same page as coaches. We’ve got some pretty good talent in conjunction with being good students and good character kids.” 
Joe Cattolico, now at Sheldon H.S.

Sheldon has plenty of athletes in the school and if they listen to their new coaches this could be the surprise team of 2016. Cattolico knows this but says with a bit of caution:
“We aim for daily improvement. We are going to try to get better as individuals and collectively every single day we come out to practice in pursuit of trying to be successful on the football field.”
The Huskies were 2-8 last year, 0-7 in the Delta League. That won’t happen this fall.

Franklin vs.McNair

Mike Johnson bought some new uniforms over the summer, did something unique with the helmet d├ęcor by placing the school’s Wildcat image in silver on the right side and the player’s uniform number on the left side. Now it all will get dirty and scuffed up for the first time tonight in Stockton as the Wildcats play McNair.
“We have great kids and we’re young,” Johnson said last Friday during a break in his team’s practice on the worn turf of Bartholomew Park. “Every one says that, but it’s true. We have 33 juniors on our roster of 50. We’ll be starting lots of young kids and I’m okay with it, because this is the group of kids I coached in Pop Warner for three years. So, they’ve been running this system for years.”
Johnson’s son Brady is on this club with several good-looking athletes, however, not too many of them have size. That could be the Wildcats’ Achilles heel this year.
“It always come down to line play in our league,” he said. “And, we’re not big and if we’re not big then we’ll have to be really tough and schematically very sound.” 
Franklin practicing field goals

The march to the post-season starts Friday with McNair, a playoff team a year ago. Johnson says this being the first summer he and other high school programs didn’t have a summer football camp in pads because of new CIF rules prohibiting such off-season contact, he, like other head coaches, may not know how good a defense he has.
“Who is physical and who is not?” he questioned. “(The CIF) has taken that out of summertime. We have a lot kids to be excited about and I hope they back that up when the pads get put on.”

Wilcox (Santa Clara) vs. Monterey Trail

No one is more optimistic about his team this year than TJ Ewing. He starts his 13th season at Monterey Trail tonight by taking on a squad from Santa Clara, Wilcox High School.
“They are big, physical and anytime someone calls and wants to play you, then you worry about them,” Ewing laughed. “They are a good program.”
Ewing has plenty of reasons for being so upbeat thanks to a solid offensive line and a quality athlete in quarterback Robert Holt, who will double as an outside linebacker. He’s one of many young men who have finally reached the varsity level after coming up through the Jr. Mustang football program.
“I have some kids I’ve known for a while,” Ewing said. “You know, I’m excited because of the relationships I’ve had with people I’ve known for a while. It’s cool because we didn’t have that before.” 
Monterey Trail's TJ Ewing

He’s proud he has also sent off many players who have gone on to play at the collegiate level, many at local community colleges.
“We’ve never been in this for personal glory,” Ewing acknowledged. “I’ve never understood this for high school. It’s all about the kids. I’m in it for a good time. It’s fun coaching them.”
Ewing doesn’t have the one standout running back like a Trey Nahhas, who was an all-state selection a couple seasons back.
“It will be running back by committee,” he said of his ball carriers in his patented veer offense. “I think there are so many guys who can help us, so it will be fun to watch that process.”
The Mustangs are a team to watch this year and should sneak up on a few opponents, especially the ones who struggle on defense trying to read the quickness of the veer.

Laguna Creek vs. West Campus

Dan Davis, a longtime assistant coach throughout the school district, walks out on the turf at Burbank’s Titan Stadium Friday as the head coach of the Laguna Creek Cardinals. It’s been six years since they’ve been in the playoffs but Davis has some speed and size this year and should finish in the upper echelon of the Metro Conference this season. West Campus has had a couple down years, so the Cardinals should take this game going away. 
Dan Davis

River Valley vs. Cosumnes Oaks

The Wolfpack kick things off tonight  in one of two home games in Elk Grove as they face River Valley. The other local home contest is Monterey Trail’s game with Wilcox.
Derick Milgrim starts his third season as head coach with several quality athletes on a squad primed to win the Capital Valley Conference. Of course, Antelope and Del Campo may have something to say about that before the season is over.

Pleasant Grove vs. Bakersfield

In a game that will be played at Ventura College Saturday, the Eagles take on Bakersfield in week zero. A year ago Jason Rossow came off a medical leave of absence to lead the Eagles into the playoffs thanks to some inspiring play. In his third season as head coach Rossow has a team that could do even better this fall.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Detrick Wins U.S. Waterskiing Nationals

Brian Detrick, a graduate of Elk Grove High School, won the Open Division of the U.S. Men's National Waterskiing Championship in Caldwell, ID., Friday.

For the 27-year-old, it is the second time he's won a U.S. National Championship in the sport. He took the age 9-and-under championship in 1999.

Detrick, the top seed in the Open Division, immediately took to the water with a tow rope set at 39 feet and successfully hit all his buoys.

"I was the top seed, which means I knew exactly what I needed to get the win," Detrick said. "It wasn’t easy everyone was struggling a little bit. I was the second person to run the rope length at 39 feet. The goal is the most buoys with the shortest rope length consecutively. I got a full two buoys  and knew I had won."

Earlier in the year Detrick switched to a new ski manufacturer and credits those skis with being the difference.

"I ran a new personal best a month ago," he said. "It’s taken my skiing up another notch."

Detrick figures the win will move him up to the number four ranking in the World in pro waterskiing.

"The U.S. is stacked with a ton of accomplished water skiers," he added.

More than 600 competed this week at the U.S. Nationals in slalom, trick skiing and jumps.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Larson Mistake Costly At Sonoma

Sonoma - The thunder of the cars revving up in the garage area at Sonoma Raceway was deafening. These powerful machines glistened in the morning sky. The car surfaces were dotted all over with the logos of the race team’s sponsors. Each crew member almost methodically moved around the garage and they seemed to have a role in the preparation of the NASCAR Sprint Cup car. Each man knew that it was his job to tweak, adjust or make something in that car exactly right.

It was still three hours before the green flag would start the Toyota/SaveMart 350, but these racing machines needed to be tuned to the smallest mark to negotiate what is perhaps one of the more tolling races annually for these cars. Sonoma Raceway is a road coarse with big changes in elevations, not the traditional ovals or tri-ovals these cars run much of the NASCAR season.

The engines revved for several minutes while a couple mechanics looked at read-outs on their laptops, plugged into the complicated wiring installed in these cars. One mechanic said they can see almost everything that moves internally in the car. 
The pit crew of Kyle Larson's #42 Target Chevy do their work
during a green flag stop. Larson was penalized on this
pit stop for speeding in the pits and cost him a likely
top five finish at the Toyota/SaveMart 350 Sunday.

The engines were then turned off and their crews, all wearing their matching team colors, pushed them into the pit area. Then the pageantry began; a rock band plays on a portable stage at the start/finish line, jets fly overhead in formation, drivers are introduced one at a time to cheers from fans from all over the sprawling grounds of Sonoma. Then it’s time for God Bless America and the National Anthem. A couple jets from the 114th Fighter Squadron at Kingsley Field in Oregon zoomed in about 500 feet over the track and rumbled the ground. Parachutists dragging flags and colored smoke bombs drop in.

Finally, after about an hour of all the hoopla, it was time for racing.

Drivers got into their cars and Sonoma State University president Ruben Arminana announced, “Drivers, start your engines.”

Crowds cheer, drivers flip their switches and the engines once again come to life. The roar was again deafening. If you didn’t have ear plugs, you had a headache when it was all over three hours later.

Then, in an entertaining race with no collisions and only six caution flags, mostly for debris on the track, there was a two-man dual. Retiring Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart grabbed the lead coming out of a caution period with 22 laps remaining. He was hounded by Denny Hamlin the rest of the way. In fact, Hamlin grabbed the lead briefly on the final lap but in the final turn, a hairpin right turn that turns back towards the finish lane, Hamlin slid wide and Stewart took advantage and snuck the nose of his car inside and floored the accelerator to the checkered flag.

“I couldn’t believe as good as he was braking going into (turn) 11and I was shocked he missed the corner,” Stewart said. “I was shocked he left the door open like that. You can’t crack the door open with me on the last lap like that. I’ll take it.”

It was Stewart’s first win on NASCAR’s biggest circuit since June 2, 2013 and his 49th in 598 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

The other race teams quickly pushed their cars back to the garages while Stewart, his crew and sponsors and family celebrated in the Sunoco Winners’ Circle. The shiny surfaces of these racers of three hours earlier were, well, gone and dirty. They all needed a car wash, badly.

But really these machines weren’t going to see soap and water. They needed to go to the body shop first. Just about every one of them was dented in on both sides of the car. That’s because negotiating the 1.99 mile, 11-turn road coarse means you will bump and grind against your competitors throughout the 350 kilometer race.

Tires, some with large chunks in the surface, but all showing great wear, were removed. The cars were lifted into their elite 18-wheel haulers and in a matter of what seemed like a few minutes tools and equipment were all packed away. The crews stripped off their special one-piece suits, most drenched in perspiration and were tanking down cold water. Their next destination, Daytona Beach, Fla., was on most of their minds.

One driver very disappointed was Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson. He started fifth at the start and slowly moved his way up the ranks. His strategy was to pit early before anyone else and then recover when the others pitted. With 50 laps gone, Larson was in second place, chasing Hamlin. Once again, Larson came into the pits on a green flag. It looked like a quality pit stop, but right away NASCAR slapped him with a penalty for coming into the pit area at more than the prescribed 45 mph. He dropped back to 14th place and finished in 12th place.

“But I had fun, I’m excited.” he said.

Larson acted like he didn’t want to talk much, once again searching for his first win on the Sprint Cup circuit.

The fans, some 90,000 is what was estimated, all tried to leave, but the roads around the Raceway are just two-laned. Most folks were inching along Highways 121 and 37 for a couple hours trying to go home. Many people spend the weekend in their RV’s in a large field east of the Raceway. There had to be hundreds of them.

They sit outside the RV’s while others fight the traffic. They’ll go home Monday. They’ve made it a weekend in wine country watching the world’s best drivers.

See photos from the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on John’s facebook,

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Carlson A Surprise MLB First-Rounder

As Major League Baseball was ready to wrap up the end of the first round with a pair of selections by the St. Louis Cardinals a familiar name was announced by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred: "With the 33rd pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals select Dylan Carlson, outfielder, from Elk Grove High School, Elk Grove, California."

The 6-3, 220-pound all-around player for the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I champions jumped out of the pile of prospects on the lists of baseball brass and into the opening round of MLB's 2016 Draft Thursday night. 
Dylan Carlson, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round

The selection, the second of three first round picks by the Cardinals, took many of the experts by surprise because MLB.Com didn't even have Carlson rated in the top 200 prospects.

"It is a bit of a surprise," John Manuel of Baseball America said during the live telecast on Thursday. "He's a guy with a ton of intangibles. He may be the best make-up guy in the whole draft. It's a baseball family, his dad is a coach, a baseball program that has produced high draft picks like Rowdy Tellez and J.D. Davis. It's a well-regarded program. So, he grew up around that program, switch hits and last year at the Area Code Games he played first base, but this spring moved to the outfield. He's shown scouts average run times and will likely stay in the outfield, probably not center, likely left. He pitches as well and has arm strength, but what you are buying is a sweet swing and projectable power."

Other experts said the choice of Carlson was good for the Cardinals, but surprised he would be selected in the first round. They surmise it was because team officials think they can sign Carlson this summer.

Carlson, who drilled ten home runs this season for the Thundering Herd and batted .394, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play next season for Cal State - Fullerton. 

Harold Reynolds, a former Seattle Mariner infielder and MLB Network commentator loved the pick of Carlson.
"A switch-hitter, his dad is a coach, he's got great size, the things you look for," Reynolds said. "I love the fact he slipped under the radar."

Carlson is a four-year starter who was on Herd baseball teams that won three of the last four Section Division I championships. His father, Jeff, has been the Herd head varsity coach for 15 seasons and has won seven Section titles.

Manning Drafted 1st Round - Ninth Overall - By Tigers

Sheldon High School's multi-sport star Matt Manning has been selected in the first round by the Detroit Tigers, the ninth selection overall, of Major League Baseball's Draft.

Manning, a 6-6 right-handed pitcher who throws fastballs regularly at 92-95 mph, was 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA and struck out 77 batters in 40 1/3rds innings for the Huskies who finished second in the Delta League. He also batted .493 at the plate, leading the league in that category amongst regular starters.

Named this season as the Delta League's Most Valuable Player in basketball, Manning has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball and basketball at Loyola Marymount. But, with the potential of signing a pro baseball contract with a signing bonus that could be as high as a $3-$5 million, it's likely he'll pursue baseball professionally.

With that aside, Manning was being discussed thoroughly by baseball draft insiders as a real solid baseball prospect because of his ability to consistently throw a 92-95 mph fastball, plus his athleticism as shown this year not just on the mound, but at the plate. Tonight on MLB Network commentator Dan O'Dowd liked the choice.

"A well-above average fastball with a a ton of late life, secondary pitches are still developing," O'Dowd said. "He's one of these picks where you are going to have to slow his development time down a little. Taller guys take a little longer to get to the big leagues. That starts at there initial level and getting their foundation right."

If Manning does indeed sign, he will join his father, Rich, with a career in professional sports. The Atlanta Hawks of the NBA in 1993 drafted the elder Manning in the 2nd round, the 40th overall. He played eight seasons of professional basketball, including two years with the Vancouver Grizzlies and a year with the Clippers.

The younger Manning is the second Elk Grove resident drafted out of high school in the first round. In 2014 the Tigers took Derek Hill of Elk Grove H.S. 23rd overall. He's currently in High-A baseball in the Midwest League, playing centerfield. Laguna Creek's Casey Weathers was a first round draft choice of the Colorado Rockies in 2007, 8th overall, after his senior year at Vanderbilt University. He is now playing with Double-A Akron in the Cleveland organization.

The highest Sacramento-area player selected in the first round was Butch Edge of El Camino H.S., selected sixth overall in 1974. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Herd Win SJS Div. 1 North With Two Wins

Maybe it's because baseball coach Jeff Carlson has been there and done that ten times before, but Elk Grove came into Sacramento City College's Union Stadium Friday night with a real confidence that they would beat Sac-Joaquin Section Division I top-seed Oak Ridge two times in the North Section championship.
Just ask Riley Lamb.
"I was beyond confident," he said. "I knew if we just showed up, we'd win."
The Herd used solid pitching, timely hitting and quality defense to beat the Trojans, 6-2, twice, to put themselves into next week's Division I final against Tracy at the University of the Pacific.
The guy who was key to the clinching win in the nightcap was pitcher Christian Scott, who for the first time ever pitched six consecutive innings of baseball in high school.
Elk Grove won its 11th North Division I championship Friday
"It was a memorable experience," Scott said shyly.
He allowed just two runs and ... hits to help Elk Grove wrap up its 11th North Section championship. Scott knew Thursday he and Dylan Carlson would be called upon to start on the mound.
"Dylan and knew it would be our turn and we'd have to do it to wrap this up," Scott said.
Carlson threw a complete game in the opener on Friday. Alex Zalasky came on in relief of Scott to pitch the seventh inning of game two.
The only rocky inning Scott encountered was the second inning where Oak Ridge scored two runs and had the bases loaded but Carlson, who played centerfield in game two, ran down a screaming line drive for the final out of the inning.
"I just tried to keep my composure," Scott said. "I knew I had a great defense behind me  and they made some plays."
Scott has been watching Herd baseball since he was little hoping for his chance to contribute to a championship. Friday night that came true.
"To fill this role and pitch a pivotal game was great for me and I just loved it," he said.
Three double plays turned by shortstop Josh Urps and second baseman Aaron Wong helped Elk Grove greatly in the second game.
Friday marked the fourth straight year the Herd played in this game.
"You see how you did it and then go back to that when you prepare for the (North Section Championship)," Carlson said.
He also claimed that playing a tough non-league schedule of schools with good baseball programs also prepares the Herd for nights like Friday. In the first game, Elk Grove faced Oak Ridge ace Trenton Denholm who was 10-0 with a 0.55 ERA, having surrendered only two earned runs all year. But, in the third inning Erek Bolton doubled off the leftfield fence to drive in two runs for the Herd off Denholm. And, for the first time this year, Denholm didn't last an entire game.
"When we see a big (NCAA) D-one guy like we saw tonight, we won't be scared," Carlson explained. "We've seen those guys early on in the preseason so it's nothing we haven't seen."
Now, there's one more hurdle between now and Elk Grove's tenth Section championship in baseball. It's the Tracy Bulldogs, who wrapped up its first-ever South Section championship Friday by defeating St. Mary's, 6-4.
The Bulldogs and the Herd played once this year and that was in the opener of the Scott Boras Baseball Classic in March. Tracy won the game, 5-4 in eight innings.
The pair will play in a best-two-out-of-three series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Klein Family Field on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton. Game two will be Saturday at noon with a third game, if necessary, to follow.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Secton Champions, Again! Sheldon Beats Tracy, 2-1

Taliyah Miles was kind, cordial and looks you right in the eye when you talk to you. On the pitching mound, it’s a different story. Just ask the batters of Tracy, Gregori, Chavez and all the other teams that fell victim to her blazing fastball during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
Or for that matter, ask the batters she faced during a 14-0 run of Delta League play or any assortment of non-league opponents that were brave enough to face this year’s Sheldon squad.
On Thursday, Miles was her usual self, keeping batters off balance, collecting easy fly balls and ground balls for her teammates to field. Throw in there a few strikeouts and the junior lefthander was leading her team to a second consecutive Section championship. This day Sheldon needed several key defensive plays behind Miles to wrap up a 30-2 season with a 2-1 win over Tracy.
Taliyah Miles allowed just five runs in five playoff games

Miles had allowed just one hit through the first six innings and the furthest any Tracy runner got was second base.
In the seventh, though, Miles needed some help from her defense and they came through – in a big way.
The inning started by Tracy getting just its second hit of the game. Miles then walked one and with runners at first and second, a single was stroked to center. Up came Jaciana Vasquez with the ball and wisely threw to third baseman Shea Moreno to tag out the runner trying to move from first to third rather than try for a play at the plate.
With one out then the next batter stroked a crisp ground ball right down the third base line and Moreno made a nifty backhanded grab of the ball and threw out the batter at first for the second out.
Then the next Tracy batter stroked a Miles’ fastball up the middle. Sheldon second baseman Maci Fines dove to stop the ball from going into the outfield and quickly hopped to her feet. The Tracy base coach was sending his runner at second home to try to tie the game. Fines threw a bullet to Huskies’ catcher Jessica Scott who applied the tag. The runner was called out and the championship celebration was underway.
Miles said afterwards she had every intention of wrapping up a win in that deciding seventh inning.
Mary Jo Truesdale with the 2016 Section Championship banner, her 7th at Sheldon
“I knew my team would have my back no matter what,” she said. “Tracy is probably the best competition we’ve seen out here. They wanted to go to a second game. I knew this was going to be a real championship game.”
Miles, who had an older sister play at Sheldon, was looking forward to this moment since she was a young girl.
“I’ve been wanting this opportunity since I was eight,” she said. “I’ve been preparing and wanting to have that moment – the seventh inning, get that last out and everybody just so happy because I helped win the Section.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Season's Over: Elk Grove Loses To Del Campo

It's been quite a spring for Amanda Buck. The Elk Grove High School softball coach barely threw out the first pitch on the season when she had to take a few weeks off to give birth to a baby boy. Former head coach Jeff Alexander filled in quite well, thank you, and the Herd started its march back to the Sacramento Softball Complex, site of the Sac-Joaquin Section's playoffs.
Those few weeks off actually turned into just a few days. Buck just couldn't stay away too long from the softball dirt.
"I enjoy being out here and I love this team," Buck said. "This team was young and I think they learned a lot. They grew in just a couple months and I am proud of them."
Elk Grove coach Amanda Buck
The Herd finished in second place in a competitive Delta League and was handed a number nine seed in the Division II playoffs. Just last season Elk Grove was the runner-up to Benecia in D-2. This time, the road was a bit tougher.
Elk Grove lost last Saturday to No. 1 seed Rocklin, 1-0, but came back in the losers' bracket of the double-elimination tournament with big wins over St. Francis and No. 2 Roseville.
Wednesday they needed two wins to return to the D-2 finals, but in the early game that evening Elk Grove just didn't have much offense against pitcher Brea Larsen and Del Campo and exited the post-season with a 3-2 loss. Miranda Rodriguez and Miranda Menees-Miles drove in Herd runs. Elk Grove finished with a 18-12 record, a mark Buck said was okay.
Now, she'll take the summer to be a mom to her two girls and son and return in the fall as a P.E. teacher and softball coach. She expects Alexander to be in the dugout with her.
"We'll lose a big pitcher/catcher duo (Courtney Riley and Jazmine Moreno) that had a lot of chemistry together," Buck said. "If we can find something comparable, we'll be okay."
And, figures to be around Elk Grove long enough to coach her girls.
"I have one seven years old and she's playing (softball)," Buck said.

Whew! Robards Lets Out Huge Sigh of Relief As Herd Rebounds For Win

Ryan Robards has had quite a senior year at Elk Grove High School. He led the Delta League football teams in just about every offensive category except for passing. He set school records in rushing and scoring. Robards had the kind of season any running back would dream of.
Then here comes baseball and he's right in the middle of the batting order, in right field and is the team's closer. His team wins the Delta League championship and to get ready for the playoffs a couple of his football teammates gave him a haircut that is right out of the comic books.
In Wednesday's Sac-Joaquin Section North Division I consolation final, he was called out of right field to pitch and close the game with Woodcreek. The Herd led the Timberwolves, 3-2, at the time.
A couple guys got on base, one on a high chopper that went about thirty feet in the air and landed down the left field line as though it ricocheted off pavement. Robards took it all in stride. He looked in for a sign from catcher Erek Bolton as he began to face Tyler Malone. Robards threw a fastball to Malone and then...
Riley Lamp was the Herd's starting pitcher Weds.
"I knew I didn't put it in a good spot and then when he hit it, I knew it was gone," Robards recalled.
Malone hit a moon shot that just cleared the right field fence at Sacramento City College's Union Stadium. The Timberwolves and their fans went nuts. They were leading the defending Section champions, 5-3.
"There's one out and I'm thinking, 'Can I even get out of this?'" Robards questioned. "I was so frustrated, I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't want to show it much, I knew I had a chance to hit in the next inning."
Head coach Jeff Carlson had to come to the mound to visit the highly emotional Robards.
"I told him, 'Just get us out of the inning,'" Carlson said. "We had a chance in the bottom of the inning to get those runs back."
Robards did exactly what his coach wanted and the game went into the bottom of the final inning.
Elk Grove led off with the top of the order and Mason Breiphol. All Robards wanted was a chance to bat.
After Breiphol worked a walk out of Woodcreek pitcher Joey Pankratz and Aaron Wong flied out, Dylan Carlson took a low and inside pitch and drilled it to the left field wall. Breiphol sprinted around the diamond and made it 5-4, Woodcreek.
Then it was time for Robards and some redemption.
"I was a little jumpy, but I swung at it and it got in on me a little, so I took a shot at it," he described.
Robards also looped the ball down the rightfield line, just fair. Carlson scored easily and the game was tied. Any chance of being blamed for a horrible, sour ending to the baseball season was lifted off Robards' shoulder. Now, he had the opportunity to score the game-winning run.
After the Timberwolves brought in relief pitcher Cody Lindsey. Josh Urps was intentionally walked because first base was open. Then it was Riley Lamb's turn. He was the starting pitcher and did a solid job for six innings. He had the chance to win it.
He hit a sharp ground ball to third and they got the force play at the third base bag and Robards was out. Now, there was two outs.
Then it was Kevin Kyle's turn for the role of hero with Urps standing on second base.
Coach Jeff Carlson has a strategy session with his baserunners in the 7th inning
The designated hitter went after Lindsey's first pitch and drilled a one-hopper to the leftfield wall, Urps scored the winning run and the celebration was on. Robards went from potential goat to winning pitcher.
"We have a tendancy to do that, we wait until the seventh inning," Robards said. "In the seventh inning we're a different team, I guess."
Now, the Herd is back in the familiar role of playing for the North Division I championship. It will be played Friday at 4 p.m. at Union Stadium. Elk Grove, coming out of the losers' bracket in this double elimination tournament, must will two games against #1 seed Oak Ridge to go to next week's Section Division I championship series at University of the Pacific.
Robards admitted afterwards his emotions in that final inning on Wednesday were really up and down.
"I am just so glad my teammates picked me up," he said. "Now we've got Oak Ridge for two more games and we can extend our season."
Big sigh. He's glad his high school athletic career didn't end on a sour note.
"It would have been a rough night," he claimed.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Local Athletes Shine At Section's Div. 1 Track Meet

The rain clouds were ominous to the north, but that where they stayed all night. An occasional drop of rain was felt over Thunder Stadium as the Sac-Joaquin Section held its Division I Track and Field Championships there Friday night. A brisk south wind turned the short hurdles and the sprints to the north rather than its typical direction.
Despite the grayness in the sky, track and field athletes still did quite well this night in a tune-up for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championship coming up next Thursday and Friday. The top 12 times/marks will advance from this meet to the Masters, which basically makes the Divisional meet a chance for track teams to accumulate points. Ten points were handed out to first place finishes and points were earned down to the 8th position.
Sheldon's Isaiah Brooks, finished 4th in the long jump
As is typical in recent years, those points generally were earned by athletes from Davis, St. Francis and Jesuit, but the Franklin girls and Monterey Trail and Pleasant Grove boys did pretty good in the point count.
First place medals were earned by Franklin's James Tillis in the 400 meters, Pleasant Grove's MacLean Connor in both the 110 meter and the 300 meter hurdles, Sheldon's Tai McDonald in the 100 meters and Monterey Trail's Myles Pruitt in the high jump. Franklin's Boys 4x400 meter relay team also was a first-place winner.
Pruitt just recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Iowa. Coaches saw some great potential in this Mustang, but he's hoping he can continue his jumping career with the Hawkeyes track team.
"I want to major in engineering and communications and minor in business so I'll be in school for eight years," he laughed.
Myles Pruitt, who won the high jump

Pruitt's leap of 6-2 Thursday was good enough for first place in the high jump for this meet, but he has gone as high a 6-6, second best mark in the Section. In practice he likes to wear a 15-pound vest to improve his performance.
"It makes me feel like I'm light," he laughed.
But, Pruitt fouled a couple times in the triple jump competition and ended up in 20th place, so he won't be competing in that event at the Masters.
"I changed my strategy and messed up," he admitted.
Tillis, wearing his chartreuse spikes and matching arm bands, looked the roll of a thoroughbred easily winning the 400 meters in a time of 48.40 seconds.
"I started wearing this color since freshman year and it's become my trademark," he said.
He actually began running hurdles his freshman season, but was hurt and switched to the 400 meters during his recovery and found it the right length of race.
Elk Grove's Madison Wong setting the starting blocks for the 4x100 meter relay
"You get out hard the first 100 (meters), then go into my 'float' and kick it all in the last 100," Tillis explained.
A junior, Tillis thinks he stands a good chance to qualify for the CIF State Track Meet in two weeks.
"I think if I work hard, I'll get it," he claimed.
Some second place finishes by local kids included Franklin's Girls 4x400 meter relay team, Adrianne Bautista of Monterey Trail in the triple jump, Jacob Cornelio of Elk Grove in the discus, Janessa Moses of Sheldon in the shot put, McDonald of Sheldon in the 200 meters, Cecily Montanez of Franklin in the girls 300 meter hurdles and James Hampton of Pleasant Grove in the 100 meters.
Records set Friday night included Jurnee Woodward of Vacaville in the 100 meter hurdles (13.88 seconds) and in the 300 meter hurdles (41.31 seconds). She also won the girls 200 meter dash.

Division II Track

Cosumnes Oaks won the 4x400 meter race at the Section's Division II Meet Friday, held at Bella Vista H.S.
Clinton Spellman of Laguna Creek won both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes.