Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Sarah Fukushima Watch: 13 Home Runs and counting

She’s stands only about five-foot, six-inches tall. But, when she swings a softball bat you swear you can feel the breeze coming off the aluminum.

And, when Sarah Fukushima makes contact you hear it. It’s that thud that is different, plus the result is evident. It goes a long way and in a hurry.

She is softball’s current-day equivalent to baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. When the Puck hit the ball it flew off his bat. That’s what it is like when Sarah strikes a pitch.

Fukushima has hit four homers in Sheldon High School’s last two games, both quality opponents Davis and Oak Ridge. And, with the pair of dingers Friday she’s tied the school record of 13 in a single season set in 2011 by another girl who had a lively bat, Danielle Henderson.

Add to the power numbers, included in that a 1.333 slugging percentage, a .524 batting average and 39 RBIs in Sheldon’s 21 games. What is a bit surprising to most observers is that even with runners on base, Fukushima continues to be pitched to.

“I’m not surprise,” Fukushima claimed. “I would actually try to go for me. I would try anything because anything can happen in a game.”

Her humility not withstanding, the results have been torturous to the rest of Delta League. Sheldon is now 9-0 in league action and 19-2 overall. The only local club they’ve lost to was Del Campo, a 6-5 defeat on March 22. 
The stern look of Sarah Fukushima ....

quickly turns to smiles circling the bases 13 times in Sheldon's 21 games this season.

The successes of Fukushima is rubbing off on her teammates. The Huskies are batting .405 as a club and Fukushima thinks the real reason is what was developed in the off-season away from Mary Jo Truesdale Field.

“I think we’re more as a family,” she reasoned. “We’re more like a family, focused, we’re on the right track and I think that’s just bleeding into the games.”

It helps, too, that Fukushima has great hitters in front of her in the Fines sisters, leadoff batter Maci and second-place batter Jordan, both hitting over .450. And if the opposing coach wants to try to pitch around Fukushima there’s sophomore clean-up batter Shea Moreno. She’s having quite a year batting .455 with a pair of home runs, three triples and four doubles. 
Shea Moreno

“Personally, I stepped it up mentally,” Moreno said. “Last year I struggled offensively but held it down defensively. But, this year I took a different mentality. I got this ‘I’m good’ mentality so it helps me in the batters’ box, and I’ve taken the approach, ‘This pitcher’s not going to beat me today and if she does she’s not going to do it on the same pitch.’”

At this rate, averaging almost nine runs a game along with quality pitching from freshmen Grace Owen and Taliyah Miles, the Huskies could easily run the table all the way to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, which would be its second consecutive banner.

“I think our goals are the gray hats, which are the Section (championship) hats,” Fukushima said. “Our main goal is to get there and to win it all.”

“Yes, it’s pretty realistic as long as we keep up mentalities and our work ethics we’re going to be okay,” Moreno said.

An interesting game still on the Huskies’ schedule is their regular season finale on May 13. They’ll host the two-time defending Division II champion Benicia in a non-league contest.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

PG Tennis/Thursday's Scoreboard

By Mighty Chen
Citizen Sports Intern

It all down to this last tiebreaker: 4-4. 4-5. 5-5. As they rallied against each other, Pleasant Groves Ken Nguyen and Sheldons Michael Voong were neck to neck in their singles tennis match on Mon, Apr. 18.
Nice shot, Nguyen said, every time his opponent scored.
The two battled in the 90-degree heat as Pleasant Grove coach Adam Harris commented about the season.
Its a very strange season this year, he stated. Davis and Jesuit at the top, and have beaten us 9-0 each time. Then we have Pleasant Grove and Franklin in the middle.” 
Michael Voong

Franklin beat Pleasant Grove 7-2 on March 28, and Harris is waiting for his chance repay the favor, lest there be consequences.
If we dont beat Franklin 7-2 like they beat us, then were going to be in fourth place, Harris explained.
He also added that the team needed to improve their movement on the court after hitting or returning a ball.
Many of us just sit there watching as if were a spectator, instead of getting back and ready for our opponent to return the ball, Harris pointed out. He noted that his players lose precious seconds when theyre not ready.
Its one of the biggest things plaguing the team, he added.
Harris also described this seasons struggle to try to bond the team together. The top twelve boys on the team rarely communicate with the ten lower-tier players, creating a division in the team.
They dont really see eye to eye, or even talk, he said. The top players need to take someone underneath their wing and start teaching them tennis.
Harris tries to encourage a team-oriented attitude in the boys. When he gets the chance, Harris plays doubles with one of the boys, exemplifying how to be a team sport.
He particularly mentioned Kenneth Xiong and Jack Gallagher who come in on time to help the coach set up for practices and matches.
[Jack] always thanks me after every practice and every match, and nobody else really does that, Harris explained.
Ken Nguyen and Michael Voong switched positions one last time. These last swings determined the winner. It was Voong who took the match.
Ken Nguyen
Sheldon took the team win against Pleasant Grove 5-4, but Nguyen wasnt upset. He shook Voongs hand, smiled, and said sincerely, Great game, man.
Nguyen shared his thoughts through the last few strokes of the match and advised fellow players about close matches.
Stay focused. Stay calm. Dont get distracted. If you get angry or frustrated, you cant play your best.
The Delta Leagues post-season begins on Monday, Apr. 25 with the League Singles Championships at Laguna Creek Racquet Club. The doubles league championship will be played at the same location on Wednesday, Apr. 27.
Thursday's Scoreboard
College Baseball -
Cosumnes River 8, Sierra College 1
College Softball -
Cosumnes River 2, Sierra College 1
Sierra College 2, Cosumnes River 0
Track and Field -
Boys – Davis 85, Monterey Trail 45
Girls – Davis 85, Monterey Trail 51
Jesuit 94, Pleasant Grove 37
St. Francis 100, Pleasant Grove 36

Boys Golf -
Delta League Center Match II
Jesuit 358
Davis 368
Elk Grove 393
Franklin 408
Pleasant Grove 409
Sheldon 489
Monterey Trail 594
Medalist – David Laskin (Jesuit) 66

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday's Scoreboard/ L.C. Tennis, Cervellin Wins, Carlson's homers

Having a big year this season is Laguna Creek's tennis team, under coach Carl Chapin. With a win Thursday at McClatchy, the Cardinals will take the Metro Conference regular season championship for the first time, ending the Lions' long strangle-hold on the tennis title. (Thanks to Laguna Creek journalism student Evan Danh for the photos from today's match against Florin)
Andrew Fleming


Going into Wednesday’s games, three teams were tied atop the Delta League baseball standings at 3-1.
Elk Grove is one of those clubs thanks to a 7-2 win over Pleasant Grove Monday. Dylan Carlson drilled home runs six and seven on the season. Mason Breipol also went deep for the Herd to back the pitching of Alex Zalasky.
Franklin is also 3-1 after a 9-3 win over Grant Monday. Tanner Adams had two hits, including a double and three runs batted in. Nate Thimon had three hits and knocked in a pair of runs for the Wildcats.
Sheldon handed Davis just its second loss of the year Monday, 6-5. Zachary Jedlowski came on in relief of Matt Manning with two outs in the sixth and struck out the final four outs of the game. The Huskies are now 2-2 in the Delta.

Junior Golf

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour came to the Reserve at Spanos Park last weekend for the Northern California Junior Classic. Courtney Cervellin, a freshman at Franklin High School, won the girls age 14-18 division by one stroke over Jasmine Law of Los Angeles. Cervellin’s two day total was a three-over-par 147.
Courtney Cervellin

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour is the largest golf tour of its kind in the country, hosting over 270 tournaments in 32 states every year.

Kelvin Chen


Monday, April 18

Bella Vista 8, Cosumnes Oaks 1
Laguna Creek 6, Galt 1
Elk Grove 7, Pleasant Grove 2
Sheldon 6, Davis 5
Franklin 9, Grant 3

Cosumnes Oaks 5, Ponderosa 2

Roseville 2, Cosumnes Oaks 1
Akugbe Uwaifo

Pleasant Grove 8, Monterey Trail 0
Franklin 7, Sheldon 0
Elk Grove 12, Grant 1

Boys Tennis
Franklin 8, Elk Grove 1
Sheldon 5, Pleasant Grove 4

Tuesday, April 19

LC: vs Kennedy, 4 p.m.
FL: vs Burbank, 4 p.m.
CO: vs Oakmont, 4 p.m.

College Baseball
Cosumnes River 2, Sierra Coll. 0

College Volleyball
Cosumnes River 3, American River 1

Boys Volleyball
CO: vs Del Campo, 6 p.m.
MT: at PG, 6 p.m.
SH: at FR, 6 p.m.
EG: vs Grant, 6 p.m.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

After Four Years At Basketball, Demps Returns To Football

Sure it was just the spring game for Sacramento State Hornet football, but most folks attending - and even participating in - the annual scrimmage were interested in watching the wide receiver wearing the #1 jersey, Cody Demps.

It's been four years since he last wore football gear. That was as the starting quarterback for the Pleasant Grove Eagles. He led his high school team to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. But, Demps was a fine high school basketball player, too, and caught the eyes of Coach Brian Katz at Sac State.

Demps signed a National Letter-of-Intent and played on the hardcourts of the Nest the next four years, with football just a fond memory. He played in 104 straight games, starting 75 of those before a leg injury knocked him out of ten games this past season. Demps did return to lead the Hornets into the Big Sky Tournament, averaging 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game. Through his leadership and local following, Demps helped move Sac State basketball into the forefront after years of obscurity in the busy local sports scene.
Cody Demps, the likely-Hornet football player

There's a little-known NCAA rule which allows a student/athlete who has played up their four years of eligibility to have a fifth season in another sport as long as the athlete is still enrolled in classes. That's exactly Demps' situation.
Cody Demps, the basketball player

Needing a couple more classes before he can graduate, Demps needs to hang around the Sac State campus. But, before he begins to explore a possible professional basketball career Demps wanted the opportunity to see what it would be like to play Big Sky Conference football.

For Demps donning the football gear once again was, well, just like riding a bicycle.

"One thing that's different is using your hands," he explained. "In basketball you have to keep your hands off the other guy. Here, you got to use them to get separation."

He said wide receiver is new to him, but having younger brother Wyatt, a receiver at Nevada-Reno, around has helped. Wyatt has shared some game film with him.

But, there is a play now in the Hornet playbook just for Cody. It's where Demps gets the ball on a reverse and then he pulls up and passes the ball. It didn't work on Saturday.

"They tried to get it in there today, it didn't work out too well," Demps laughed.

No one is more excited to have Demps around than Hornet head coach Jody Sears.

"I think it's a credit to the gifts and talents that he's been blessed with," Sears said. "To be able to come out here and do what he does after finishing a college basketball career and then come out here and be productive at the collegiate level, it is absolutely amazing."

Sears said early in the spring there was one play during a scrimmage where he knew Demps would be a real addition to the team. Running a route in the end zone, Demps out-jumped double coverage and snatched the pass above his defenders.

"I treated it just like a rebound," Demps laughed.

Sears is glad to just have Demps around the locker room, particularly with the fact there are lots of first- and second-year players on the field for the Hornets.

"A great kid, with tremendous work ethic and a great person," Sears noted. "He's an engineering student and to come out here and do what he is doing is a testament to him. To have that maturity and leadership is extremely positive."

What Demps looks to be doing is finding a starting spot in the Hornets' spread offense, which at times, sputtered in 2015, a season in which Sac State was 2-9.

Sears said after the first couple practices this spring it was evident that Demps would join his father Chris as one who would strap it up for Hornet football. The elder Demps was a defensive lineman for the Hornets in the late 1980s.
Hornet head coach Jody Sears

"I told Chris, 'He is not a fish out of water,'" Sears said. "He has soft hands, runs good pass routes, and he's 6-4, 195 pounds. I imagine over the course of the off-season, he'll be plenty ready."

Sears already has Demps penciled in for getting plenty of playing time once the football season rolls around in late August.

Demps would love that opportunity.

"Competition breeds success and coach has made it clear that we need to be gym rats and get stronger and better," he said. "That's what breeds championships."

Demps wasn't the only local players shining during Saturday's scrimmage. Another former Eagle, Dre Terrell, came up with an interception. He's trying to nail down a starting spot in the Hornet secondary. Elk Grove's Manny Scott-Anderson started at safety as a true freshman a year ago. One of the two quarterbacks who played Saturday during the spring game was former Sheldon Huskie, Nolan Merker.

Sears credited his recruiting coordinator, Fred Kelley, with getting lots of local players to come play Hornet football.

"We don't miss on very many kids," Sears said. "Freddie does a very thorough job in the area. And, we need to get local kids. There's enough talent here to win a championship."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Delta Baseball: Franklin Hands Davis 1st Loss; Sheldon Upends EG

Wednesday beheld a couple surprise games in Delta League baseball:

*Franklin (8-7, 1-1 Delta League) knocked Davis from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 9-8 win. After the Blue Devils notched four runs in the top of the first, the Wildcats battled back with a run in their half of the opening inning and four in the second to take the lead. Davis had an 8-6 lead going into the sixth inning before Franklin took the lead for good with three in the home half of the inning.
Tanner Adams and Trevor Zschiele each had a double. Adams had a pair of RBI's along with Nate Thimjon and Nik Regino.
*Sheldon scored six times in the first inning Wednesday at Elk Grove and then held on for an 11-9 win. The Huskies rocked starter Christian Scott for six runs on six hits before an out could be recorded. Ryan Lemp led the Sheldon attack with three hits. Matt Manning had a double and two RBI's, as did Zackeria Jiles.
Dylan Carlson and Ryan Robards each homered for Elk Grove.
Sheldon pitcher Zachary Jedlowski pitched the final four-and-one-third innings to pick up the win.
*Elsewhere in the Delta, Grant defeated Monterey Trail, 13-3, and Jesuit got revenge for a loss on Monday by defeating Pleasant Grove Wednesday, 4-1.
*Bradshaw Christian remained unbeaten in the Sierra Delta League by defeating Vacaville Christian, 17-8. Zach Wackman had two hits, including a double. Morgan Clay stroked a pair of doubles and drove in three runs. 


Sarah Fukishima drilled her eighth home run of the season and drove in four runs as Sheldon romped over Monterey Trail, 16-0. Maci Fines had a triple and a double and five RBI's. Jordan Fines had a pair of hits and three RBI's as Sheldon raised its league record to 5-0.
*Elk Grove walked by Grant, 17-3, while Franklin dropped a 7-4 decision to St. Francis.
*In Metro League softball, Laguna Creek romped over Johnson, 23-0. Mazzi Davis had a single, double and triple and drove in six runs for the Cardinals.


In boys' golf Elk Grove looked strong as it defeated Monterey Trail. 192-288. Jacob Custodio was the low scorer with a 35.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Abrams Leads Revival of CRC Swimming

There was a bit of a landmark set this spring at Cosumnes River College when the women’s swim team won its first home meet in more than 35 years. The issue wasn’t because the Hawks swim club was bad, it was the fact they didn’t have a team for all these years.
No one from back then is still here now at CRC to explain why the swim program was abandoned, but a little more than a year ago athletic director Liz Belyea wanted the sport once again at her school and got the necessary approvals pushed through.
Liz Abrams
The woman she wanted to re-start the swim program, Elizabeth Abrams, was hired in late 2014 and just a little more than a year later, the Hawks were back in the water once again. To get girls interested they did just about everything including putting an ad in the school newspaper. A few girls showed up for fall workouts and then Abrams arrived in Jan.2015. A scant few weeks later the season started.
“We had five girls on the team our first year,” she said. “It was a close-knit group of girls who worked really hard. They were super dedicated. There was a lot of improvement with in the scope of their abilities.”
Their big accomplishment in year one was that they were not last in the Big 8 Conference, which says a lot because teams of five are real small for swimming, according to Abrams.
She is a Sacramento woman who grew up in Rancho Cordova, swam as a teen with the Cordova Blue Marlins and later at American River College. She’s a teacher in the San Juan Unified School District who was the swim coach at Christian Brothers High School for several years.
Now in 2016 with a team double the size of year one with ten girls she has her swimmers going through quite a regimen daily. They are in the pool at 5:30 a.m. for two hours, then dry off and get ready for their day only to return to the pool again in the evening after Abrams arrives from her classroom teaching.
The goal this year for the Hawks’ swimmers is to lower their times to get ready for the Big 8 Conference championships.
CRC Swimmers taking a break from a workout recently
Natasha Supan, the only sophomore swimmer on the team, lowered two of her personal best records, one in the 200 meter individual medley and also in the 100 meter breaststroke. She lowered her mark drastically. Before an April 1 swim meet she swam her 200 IM in 2:55.32 and leaving the meet at American River College` her new record for 200 IM was 2:46.18, a difference of more than 6 seconds. Supan  lowered her 100 Breaststroke time from 1:23.60 to 1:22.94.
Sara Krajnovic, at the same meet, lowered two of her personal bests as well. Sara competed in the 100 butterfly event and decreased her time from 1:21.04 to 1:20.29. In the 200 IM, she lowered her time from 2:49.95 to 2:45.60, a huge accomplishment for any swimmer.
Suraya Golden was able to lower her time in the 100 breaststroke  by 3.10 seconds and she also lowered her 50 meter freestyle mark from 27.59 to 27.47.
Jenna Singh had a standout moment during the April 1 event when she dropped her time in the 100 meter butterfly from a personal best of 1:27.48, to 1:22.60. Liz Padilla swam multiple events at American River but one personal record she beat by a good amount of time was in her 100 backstroke. Singh decreased her time from 1:46.06 to 1:43.74.

Morgan Lemmons contributed to this story

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Herd Scores 7 In 7th To Beat PG

Amanda and Zach Buck welcomed their third child, Cody Ryan, to the world March 23rd, but the Elk Grove softball coach wasn’t going to allow the couple’s nine-pound , five-ounce bundle of joy to keep her away from coaching, totally.
The former Elk Grove basketball star turned-P.E. teacher and coach at her alma mater has watched her club struggle a bit in the first month of the season. Now they seem to have turned a corner the past few games.
The Herd went 2-2 at the Tracy Tournament last weekend then look impressive on Wednesday in beating St. Francis, 3-2, in a Delta League game.
Then Friday Elk Grove, down 12-7, pulled out some softball magic with an improbable seven-run seventh inning capped by Miranda Miles’ bases-loaded triple with two outs to defeat Pleasant Grove, 14-12. The two clubs combined for 31 hits.
With pitcher Courtney Riley ailing with an elbow issue, Buck decided to go first with left-hander Miles in the circle. Miles gave up nine runs on ten hits through four and 2/3rds innings, but just four of those runs were earned. Down 9-4, Buck went to Danielle Levin.
“She pitched pretty good, but Jazzie (catcher Jazmine Moreno) called a heck of a game,” Buck said.
Levin pitched a scoreless sixth inning after Elk Grove narrowed the score to 9-7 with three in the fifth. Then the Eagles got three more in the seventh and seemed to have an insurmountable lead going to the bottom of the frame.
“It’s always hard to lose in the bottom of the seventh when you’re ahead by five runs,” Eagles’ head coach Russ Pettis said. “That’s the Delta League. There are lots of strong teams and this is a typical game with Elk Grove and us and like, with Sheldon and us. It’s like a Section (playoff) game.”
Miles led off the seventh with a single followed by singles by Alexandria Hale and Courtney Riley. Hannah Steege walked to force in a run. Madison Coronado then hit a ball right to first baseman Kianah Corey who decided to try for a force at home, but her throw got away from the catcher and Hale and Riley scored to make it 12-10. Moreno flew out to centerfield for the first out. Ariyana Miranda walked to load the bases and then Lauren Johnston stroked an infield single to score Steege. Elk Grove was within one, 12-11, and the bases were loaded.
Eagle pitcher Raeanna Young struck out Nina Revoir, but then gave up Miles’ game winner.
Miles was four-for-four at the plate Friday with five RBI’s. She had two doubles to go with the game-winning triple.
“That was one of the best-hit balls I’ve seen in a long time,” Buck commented. “She just smoked it.”
Elk Grove moved to .500 at 6-6 overall.
“We have been fighting this year, but we haven’t strung them all together,” Buck explained. “Tonight, we finally strung them all together. Our DP’s came in and had a great day and Miranda Miles had a heck of a day.”
Elk Grove is now tied with PG and Franklin for second place in the Delta at 3-1. Buck says there are lots of things to work on to stay there.
“Our defense needs some tightening up,” she said. “We are giving too many unearned runs. We’re not backing up our pitcher too well on defense and timely hitting, we’re leaving too many runners on base.”
Pettis says after a slow start by the Eagles (3-3), the team is playing much better as of late.
“We’ve been playing tough competition,” he explained “We played Rocklin and Del Campo, two of the best teams in our Section. We’ve been play better as of late. Today we hit the ball very well. A couple blunders in the last inning was the difference in the game.”
Vicky Camina led Pleasant Grove Friday by going four-for-five with a double and one RBI. Emily Martin was three-for-four with two doubles, three runs scored and six RBI’s.

Almost! Elk Grove V-ball Squeaks By Franklin

Almost isn’t exclusive to horseshoes and hand grenades. It was applicable Thursday at Franklin High School as the Wildcats’ volleyball squad almost knocked off the 14-1 Elk Grove team.
In the end, Elk Grove found a way to control the action, particularly in the second and third games, to pull out a 22-25, 25-21, 25-15, 20-25 and 15-12 match victory. It put the Herd at 6-0 in the Delta League, keeping them one game in front of Jesuit.
Franklin’s vibrant coach Melody McCullough, whose team fell to 2-4 in the Delta, 7-9 overall, was smiling with the effort her boys put forth.
Franklin's Melody McCullough
“They played their hearts out,” McCullough said. “This was as good as they’ve played. We were all-covering, talking it up and they played with heart tonight.”
After opening the match competitively, Franklin went flat in the second game, then McCullough said she made a coaching error which she says cost the Wildcats the third game.
“I put the wrong number in my lineup and I had two middles in the front at the same time,” she admitted. “That’s my bad.”
In the unique substitution rules of volleyball, a coach has to list which position each player is placed game-by-game and the rotation of which players in the lineup shall substitute for another.
“I was hoping they would adjust,” McCullough continued. “There were doing lots of adjusting out there tonight, switching to places where they hadn’t played before.”
Loi Huynh and Blaze Mahe each led Franklin with four blocks and three kills apiece. Steve McCullough had three aces and 11 digs while Justin Daneluk had six kills and 17 digs. Jestin Kudlil had 14 digs.
In the fourth game, won by the Wildcats, 25-20, McCullough made a few adjustments and it sent the match into the deciding fifth game.
I switched my middle hitters in order to get a better block. I also kept my right side hitter, who is a better blocker, on the left side in order to block their big hitter,” she explained. “So in essence, I switched my better blockers so they would block EG's best hitters.”
Thundering Herd coach Jill Smith was glad they walked away with a win.
EG's Chukwudi Ikem, right, with a block
“We had a really good game (Tuesday) against Monterey Trail and some of my younger players stepped up during that (match), so I started them and gave them the benefit because they pulled us out in the last (match),” Smith said. “They earned the spot.”
Smith said the Herd had to adjust to gain the upper hand in the second and third games.
“We were out of rotation a lot, it was lots of little things, errors, but (Franklin) played really great,” she said.
A force at the net was Chukwudi Ikem throughout the match, not only with several spikes, but blocking very effectively.
“He’s a new player, only playing for us two months,” Smith explained. “He’s a basketball player, so he has some natural ability to get up and do some good things for us.”
Even though the Herd sits atop the Delta League as they come close to the midway part of the league schedule, Smith says they have lots of work to do.
“We have a lot of room for improvement, but the one thing they aren’t lacking are heart and drive,” she said. “They won’t give up.”

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Day, CRC Pitching Leads Hawks To 3-2 Win

He hasn’t shaved since March 26 but the scraggly-faced Brooks Day hasn’t let that stop him from playing third base for Cosumnes River College like the baseball Hall-of-Famer for which he was named – Brooks Robinson.
During that time in which Day’s razor has laid idle, the Hawks have won five Big 8 Conference games in a row, are now in third place in the standings, thanks not only to some sound defense, but also quality pitching.
Day, a former Elk Grove Thundering Herd starter at the hot corner, showed Saturday why as a freshman in college he’s a starter.
Brooks Day scores CRC's 2nd run

In the Hawks’ 3-2 win over Sacramento City College, the game was tied at two in the seventh inning and a go-ahead runner was on third. A screaming liner was knocked right down the third baseline and much like the former Baltimore Oriole Gold Glover, Day went to the ground, backhanded the ball, bounced to his feet and gunned down the batter for the final out of the inning.
“Coach Bloomfield moved me towards the line a little bit and he put me in the right spot to make the play,” Day said. “That’s the play I should make. I got a good read off the bat.”
Hawks coach Tony Bloomfield pointed to that big play as a key reason his club, which started conference play losing five of its first six, has turned it around since.
“We got beat by American River two-our-of-three and we had two bad innings in that series,” he said. “Everybody can pitch. Everybody can coach. You have to show up and play the game and our kids are playing pretty well right now.”
Back on March 19, perhaps the low point to the season to this point, Hawks pitchers gave up a total of 18 walks in a 17-11 loss to San Joaquin Delta College. Now, they’ve really turned that around and Bloomfield says that’s the big reason they’re 6-4 in the Big 8.
“We finally solidified our pitching staff,” Bloomfield explained. “Up until the 21st game we didn’t have a starting pitcher get a win. Matt Richardson pitched really well. We moved Matt Stafford (Pleasant Grove H.S.) to the starting rotation. We moved (Jeremy) Caldwell to the starting rotation. We moved Andre Gregory to centerfield so he could pitch on Saturdays and we think that’s helped us.” 
Jeremy Loeb get Brandon Langan to ground out to end the game
Designated hitter Brian Morley came through with a big double scoring Brett Bloomfield from first base in the eighth inning for the game winner Saturday. Still, Hawks’ pitching –starting with former Cosumnes Oaks’ pitcher Jeremy Caldwell, then relievers Thomas Galart and Chris Loeb – were key to handing the Panthers just their second conference loss of the season.
Day claims he won’t shave as long as the Hawks keep on winning.
“As long as the streak is alive, I won’t shave,” he said.
His parents may not appreciate that, but they are quite busy watching other college games this spring, as well. Day is a half-brother (and high school teammate) to twins Nick and Ty Madrigal. They, too, are freshmen contributing right now for Oregon State and St. Mary’s College, respectively.
“It’s pretty hectic,” Day said of his parents attendance at their games. “They try to split it up as evenly as possible.”
Day says making the transition from a Section championship team at Elk Grove to CRC has come pretty easily for him.
“They ask me to play the game hard and play the game the right way,” Day said.
Bloomfield, says that transition, though, hasn’t been without a few struggles.
“He’s a defensive player first, an offensive player second,” Bloomfield explained. “He’s had a tough time adjusting to the pace of the play here. It’s faster than high school. It’s a Bermuda-cut, fast-paced field. So, now he’s adjusted and playing the field really well.”
Peyton Wheatley, a high school teammate of Day’s at Elk Grove, made several put outs flying around left field Saturday. He says Coach Bloomfield isn’t much different that high school coach, Jeff Carlson, who was in attendance at Saturday’s win.
“They are both loud and will get in your face,” Wheatley said. “Very intense. They are pretty similar. They both want to win.”
The Hawks play the second game of the three-game set against City College Tuesday. Then they’ll host the Panthers for the final time this year on Thursday.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Bombs Away! Fukishima Launches Another One In 6-1 Win

Sheldon was leading in its Delta League softball game against Franklin Friday, 1-0. It was the fourth inning and it was a tight ball game. Up to bat comes the Huskies' left fielder, Sarah Fukishima. Wildcat pitcher Taylor Keinath worked the count to 3-2 on Fukishima and she tried to come in with some high heat. The ball was out of the strike zone, about shoulder height. She swung at it anyway.

"I think because she didn't have as much movement, as much as I've seen from other pitchers, I thought I could get ahold of the ball, which I did," Fukishima described.
Sarah Fukishima

It looked like a high pop-up to left field, but like so many balls Fukishima's hit this year, there was some lift added to the projectile. It kept climbing and climbing. A couple seconds later the yellow ball plopped to the ground on the other side of the fence, almost hitting the scoreboard on the way down.

Fukishima just golfed out of Mary Jo Truesdale Field her fifth home run of the still-young softball season. As she rounded second base she flashed a big smile to Coach Truesdale, coaching in the third base box. The Huskies had home plate circled, allowing just enough room for Fukishima to place a foot on the plate, all the while going into their very rehearsed chant for Fukishima (or any teammate who "Dials 8" on a ball).

Fukishima gets numerous pats on her batting helmet and the girls have a couple more words, all in unison. They giggle and walk back to the dugout. Giggling is commonplace this season for Sheldon, raising their record Friday to 7-2 after a 6-1 win over the Wildcats.

What is happening in front of their eyes could be one of the best offensive seasons in their school history. Not only has Fukishima hit five dingers in a season that is barely ten games along, but she's almost hitting .600 to go with 16 RBI's in nine games. And, not against middle school pitching either.

Like any batter hitting the ball as well as Fukishima will tell you, they are just seeing the ball really well and they are in a groove.

"I think I am more focused on getting my hands through the ball, instead of up which I think is helping me," the Cal State - East Bay commit said.

She claims she's not going to the plate this season trying to hit it out every at bat.

"I don't think it's all about hitting home runs, it's what is best for the team like base hits, like line drives and that is what we can do better and I think we're going to work on it more," Fukishima said.

Better is always what any team wants to get, however, Sheldon is doing quite well in this, the fourth week of the season. They are batting .390 as a team.

Now that the Delta League season is underway, and the Huskies have seven games in the coming week, anyone scouting this club will know to try to avoid throwing a pitch over the plate to Fukishima, or her teammate Jordan Fines, who is hitting at a .429 clip, or Fines' sister, Maci, hitting .467 or how about Shea Moreno who is blazing along a .538 average with a pair of homers.
Sheldon's Jordan Fines

"I know they'll probably do that, but it is my intention to hit it where it is pitched," Fukishima said.

"She hits the ball really hard," Truesdale observed. "She hits base hits as well as home runs and sees the ball just so well. She can put the ball down, hit it to the right, hit the long ball, whatever we need her to do."

Truesdale says Fukishima has come along since her freshman year to where she is now one of the pre-eminent hitters in high school softball.

"She has put in the time and has really come along to where she is now," Truesdale said.

In an age where the bats have come around since the pitching plate was moved back three feet about five years ago, it still is important to have strong throwers in the circle and this year Truesdale has relied on freshman Grace Owen and junior Taliyah Miles. Owen in five games and two starts has a 0.00 ERA. Miles is 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA in nine games pitched and seven starts.

Sheldon has a pair of Delta League games, Monday with St. Francis and Wednesday at Davis, then competes in the Livermore Stampede starting Thursday.

Sanchez See Positives With Wildcat Softball

Franklin's long-time coach Jill Sanchez could have hung her head or pouted a little in losing the Friday contest at Sheldon, but she was rather upbeat.

"We've only had a few games so far, we're still progressing and we're still learning," she said.

Franklin pitcher Taylor Keinath
Franklin right now has a   record, but they had several rainouts the first week or so of the season and they've been making most of those games up the past week.

"There's always room for improvement," Sanchez said. "After today we need to work on our mental game as we are baserunning. I felt as though we ran ourselves out of two, maybe three innings."

The Wildcats are putting the bat on the ball.

"We are swinging the bat daily, numerous times," Sanchez said.

There are only 12 girls on the varsity squad this year, but she likes that.

"They play multiple positions, so I feel like I can flip or flop where we are strong," Sanchez explained. "We have a great lineup, so I am very confident we will be (in the playoffs) this year."