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SAC-JOAQUIN EDITION JULY, 2019 VOL. 10 ISSUE 167


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finishing

STRONG A nd just like that, the 2018-19 school year came to an end. Just seven more weeks before the first football games of 2019 kick off. But before we start counting days — because we’re really not counting days (As far as you know.) — we’re spending this issue celebrating the year that just came to an end — seemingly faster than a lap from Monterey TrailElk Grove’s 400-meters state champion, Zach Larrier. Well, maybe not THAT fast. This issue doubles up as the print version of our Yearbook Special — an annual photo-centric NorCal sports year in review — and our All-NorCal Baseball and Softball issue. Our full NorCal Yearbook Issue released online in mid-June, and it’s worth checking out for a more complete version. That version includes our final NorCal Top 20 rankings from football, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball. The NorCal online version also carries a third and final element that we like to call, “As We Saw It.” It features thoughtful remarks from various NorCal media members on a variety of topics. Those topics include their most memorable game they attended, favorite stories told and athletes they’re going to miss. Regular readers of SportStars may recognize a few images from our 2018-19 coverage and features, but there are also several images we’ve held on to until now. And before you start to dive into this issue of memorable images, let me give my kudos to all of the freelance photographers who have provided work to us this year. The stars of this issue — at least the ones who aren’t wearing uniforms — are James K. Leash, David Gershon, Jean-Paul Toshiro, Berry Evans III, Dennis Lee, Gint Federas, Jim Johnson and Ike Dodson. It was Gershon who earned the cover shot of this edition, catching a Sac-Joaquin Section championship celebration between OakmontRoseville pitcher TJ Nichols and catcher Carson Blatnick. Let the review begin. (And psst: Football games in a little more than 45 days.) ✪

YOUR TICKET TO CALIFORNIA SPORTS ADMIT ONE; RAIN OR SHINE This Vol. #10, July 2019 Whole No. 167 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, PO Box 741, Clayton, CA 94517. SportStars™© 2010-2014 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Receive FREE Digital Subscription in your inbox. Subscribe at SportStarsMag.com. To receive sample issues, please send $3 per copy, or $8 total for bulk. Back issues are $4 each. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission of Publisher is strictly prohibited. The staff and management, including Board of Directors, of SportStars™© does not advocate or encourage the use of any product or service advertised herein for illegal purposes. Editorial contributions, photos and letters to the editor are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor. All material should be typed, doublespaced on disk or email and will be handled with reasonable care. For materials return, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

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levelle bailey BURBANK-SACRAMENTO - FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL - SENIOR Bailey received potentially his last All-State honor as a high school athlete last week when Cal-Hi Sports named him 1st Team Grid-Hoop All-State. The Grid-Hoop All-State teams are comprised of California’s top performers in both football and basketball. Bailey was a two-way player for the Burbank football team, passing for 1,405 yards and tossing 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He added 722 yards rushing and 15 TDs while also mixing in one touchdown reception. He collected 81 tackles on defense with six interceptions. During the winter, he averaged 13.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game for a 20-win Titans squad.

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t was all about aces and A’s as baseball and volleyball teamed up for a new Oakland A’s Volleyball Night promotion at the Coliseum. The Northern California Volleyball Association served as a partner with the A’s on this inaugural event on June 17 for the game against the Baltimore Orioles. Sabrina Blackwell of the A’s came up with the idea for the pairing, seeing that the A’s had youth events for sports like baseball and swimming. She had a long history as a player with NCVA, so a teaming of the two sports was a natural. The idea began to come to fruition when she attended one of her sister’s tournaments and spoke with Evan Orlando, NCVA Event Housing and Marketing Manager. Blackwell played for NCVA-member clubs for seven years, six with Los Gatos area club, Vision, and one year for City Beach of Santa Clara. A graduate of Thomas More High in San Jose, Blackwell played at Cal and then at graduate school at USF. It’s safe to say the sport is in her blood. So Blackwell, an account executive in group sales and hospitality for the A’s, thought the blend of baseball and volleyball would be a smash hit. Just like a massive kill by an NCVA star or a home run by A’s star Matt Chapman, this event was a major hit. More than 400 girls ranging from ages 8 to 17 filled a sizeable area along the third base side of the Coliseum. Through their special tickets via NCVA-member clubs, each of the players received a commemorative A’s miniature volleyball. A group of NCVA players were selected to go on the field, and two of the girls had their names announced over the public address system to the Coliseum crowd. Blackwell would like to bring theww promotion back and expand upon it, since first-time events have the potential to grow into even bigger promotions. With NCVA having over 400 member clubs throughout its Northern California region, the potential is there for many more outside hitters, setters and liberos in the stands at future events. “It was really cool, especially seeing the young girls and how excited they were,” Blackwell said. “A lot of them had never been to a baseball game, so that was great in creating awareness for the sport.” ✪ — Story by Mike Wood, Photo courtesy of Oakland Athletics

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Behind the Clipboard by Clay Kallam

Can Money Make The Player?

NOT EXACTLY

There’s a guy in our baseball program who comes from a very rich family. He has all the best equipment: lots of bats, different gloves for outfield and infield, and new spikes every two weeks, it seems like. On top of that, he travels all over to work with different coaches, and even went to Washington to spend some time at Driveline. He’s not a bad guy, and he’s an OK player, but it just doesn’t seem fair. I know I’d be better if I had all equipment and training, and so would a lot of other guys. Should the coaches think about all those advantages when they decide on who makes the team, and who plays where? L.B., Montclair

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t’s pretty easy to get worked up about the rich getting richer, especially as you get older. And there’s no question that training and equipment can help a player improve – not to mention other kinds of training (conditioning, say) and support (the right foods all the time, injury care). So when you say it’s not fair, you’re absolutely right. But pull the camera back a bit, and think awhile about the bigger picture. You’re a good player and a good athlete. I don’t know how tall you are or anything, but let’s just say there’s a guy on your team who’s six feet tall, can throw hard and is very fast. What exactly did he do to become six feet tall? Well, he had the right parents, just like the rich kid. He can throw hard, which is something you either have or you don’t. You can throw a little harder with training, but you can’t make a weak arm into a strong one. Why can he throw hard? He was born with the right set of genes. And he’s fast – same thing. So it’s not like everyone is treated “fairly” when it comes to athletic tools. There might be someone who could pick up grounders better than anyone on your team – but she might be 5-1 and unable to hit the ball hard enough to get it past the pitcher. That’s not fair, either, really. She has a skill, or maybe even skills, but other factors make those skills irrelevant. And then what about the kid whose parents have issues? He could have been really good, but he could never get to practices consistently because of his parents’ problems. And he never had the opportunity to do a lot of things because there was no money in the household. Is that fair? What it comes down to is this: We’re all dealt a certain hand in life, starting with our DNA. What we have to do is the best we can with those cards to play. The rich guy has better cards in some respects than you do, but you might be faster or have more power. How much of that was what you were born with? And how much of that was how hard you worked? And maybe the guy with all the advantages works really hard too. Here’s another way to look at it: You’re a good player, and you can play high school varsity sports. How many other guys would love to have your ability and your opportunities? How many other guys would like nothing more than to be on a varsity team and enjoy that whole experience? If you look at it that way, you’re the lucky one. Maybe the rich guy is luckier, but from that perspective, you sound a little bit greedy. You’ve got all this going for you already, and you want more advantages? Now I know that’s not what you meant, and it is true that money can smooth a path, but before you worry too much about those who are better off, take a few minutes to think about those who would love nothing more than to be standing in your shoes. ✪

Clay Kallam has been an assistant athletic director and has coached numerous sports at a handful of high schools throughout the Bay Area. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at claykallam@gmail.com.

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: FALL 2018

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LEFT: Del Oro linebacker Isaiah Oates charges after the quarterback of Grace Brethren-Simi Valley during the CIF Div. 2-AA State Bowl Championship. ABOVE: St. Francis-Mountain View junior outside hitter, Alexa Edwards, rises for a kill. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: FALL 2018

SPORTSTARSMAG.COM There is always more online! ›› Look at full galleries of our best pictures of the fall ›› Review our final NorCal football and volleyball rankings ›› Read what NorCal media members listed as their favorite moments and athletes from 2018-19 CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove senior middle blocker Ireland Grubbs erupts with emotion during a mid-October match with St. Francis-Sacramento. • From left to right, Amaria Kelley, Ella Nerli and Ramonni Cook share a moment of levity at the Christine Craft Invitational. • Grant-Sacramento receiver Paris Warren Jr. prepares to haul in a catch against Capital ChristianSacramento. • Folsom senior two-way lineman, Chandon Pierre, celebrates one of his four sacks in the Falcons’ overtime win over Cathedral Catholic-San Diego in the CIF Div. 1-AA State Bowl. 12

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: FALL 2018

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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Folsom Football team storms the field prior to a regular season home game against Granite Bay • Inderkum-Sacramento fullback Logan Benoit (34) congratulates running back Johnny Williams with a helmet slap after Williams scored in a win over Woodcreek-Roseville. • Capital Christian-Sacramento’s D’Marcus Ross is all smiles as he puts on his SJS Championship head gear. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: WINTER 2018-19

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Vacaville junior wrestler Chris Island spars with a teammate during a January workout. • SportStars NorCal Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Marcus Bagley (center), raises up his cell phone for a team selfie after his teammates won the SJS Div. I championship while he was forced to sit due to a back injury. • The Davis High girls soccer team embraces for a team huddle as their home crowd forms behind them prior to the CIF Div. I NorCal final. 16

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: From left to right, McClatchySacramento teammates Nia Lowery, Kayla Fermil, Jenna Waki and Samaya Beatty share a laugh during a preseason basketball photo shoot. • Manteca senior Domonick Victor soars in for a dunk in a late January battle at Weston Ranch-Stockton. • Antelope junior standout Jzaniya Harriel takes a shot during the SJS Div. II final. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: WINTER 2018-19

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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Elk Grove wrestler Kendall Frank explodes with emotion following his Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship upset victory over Eli Blake of Del Oro-Loomis. • The Sacramento High girls basketball team bench reacts to a thrilling final seconds in the SJS Div. II championship. • Burbank-Sacramento two-sport standout Levelle Bailey drives to the basket in a midseason matchup against Grant-Sacramento. He will play football at Fresno State in the fall.

SPORTSTARSMAG.COM There is always more online! ›› Look at full galleries of our best pictures of the winter ›› Review our final NorCal boys and girls basketball rankings ›› Read what NorCal media members listed as their favorite moments and athletes from 2018-19 Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: SPRING 2019

SPORTSTARSMAG.CO There is always more online! ›› Look at full galleries of our best pictures of the spring ›› Review our final NorCal baseball and softball rankings ›› Read what NorCal media members listed as their favorite moments and athletes from 2018-19 20

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CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: Woodcreek-Roseville competitive cheer standout Alyssa Guillen strikes a pose • Lincoln infielder Jacob Lemus slides safely into home before Oakmont-Roseville catcher Carson Blatnick can apply a tag. • Oak Ridge High and Sierra Marlins standout swimmer Ben Dillard takes a breather during a mid-May workout.

OM

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YEARBOOK SPECIAL EDITION: SPRING 2019

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Woodland Christian junior and Stanford-commit, Jordyn Hutchins, cracks a smile amongst teammates in the dugout. • Vista del Lago-Folsom boys volleyball standout Noah Silva powers a kill attempt through the Franklin-Elk Grove block. • Davis High pitcher Adam Greenlee delivers a pitch during the Boras Baseball Classic in April.

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TOP: Monterey Trail-Elk Grove three-sport star Zach Larrier gets focused before running a race. The senior won the CIF state title in the 400 meters on May 25. BOTTOM: Oakmont-Roseville third baseman Bryce Sidler misses with the glove, but makes the kick save.

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W

ith three Central Coast Section Open Division titles under his belt, Steven Zobac has plenty of material to choose from when he looks back on his favorite moments in a Valley Christian-San Jose uniform. The latest memory certainly stands out for Zobac. In his final high school game, he worked four hitless innings to earn the win and drove in the only runs of the game with a two-run double in Valley Christian’s 2-0 championship victory over Archbishop Mitty-San Jose. The heroics came one year after Zobac earned the win on the mound and picked up the game-winning RBI via hit by pitch in the Warriors’ 4-3 championship win over Los Gatos in 2018. Individual heroics aside, the learning process throughout his time as a Warrior stands out most for Zobac. That’s why, when pressed to name a favorite, he points to Valley Christian’s 4-3 win over Serra-San Mateo in the 2017 title game as a seminal moment in what would eventually become a tremendous high school career. “It gave me an opportunity to see what winning is truly like,” said Zobac, who served as a backup catcher throughout his sophomore year. “I’ve played on teams where you win some games, you lose some games and nothing really happens. The first championship we got my sophomore year, even though I didn’t play a lot, I got to see what a true team was like and real winning was like. That gave me a really big advantage over my next two years.” What Valley Christian head coach John Diatte would also learn is just how impactful Zobac could be in a number of different ways. The Warriors’ longtime coach made the decision to move Zobac to the mound as a junior. The big fastball that resulted set the stage for a path to two-way stardom. 26

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“We threw him out there and he was 88-89 and we decided we were going to use him as our closer,” Diatte said. “He kind of had the same role going into this season and it kind of evolved. We needed him to start and he took on that role, too. Steven’s resilient, he’s a great kid, works hard; he’s one of those players that coaches love because he’ll do whatever we ask him to do and embraces his role.” After beginning to make an impact in 2018, Zobac’s senior year put him squarely in the conversation as one of the best players in California. On the mound, his high spin rate led the right-hander to develop a curve ball in addition to his slider. He finished 2019 with a 6-1 record, four saves, 75 strikeouts and a 0.23 ERA. In just over 90 innings pitched as a junior and senior, Zobac allowed a grand total of two earned runs. Zobac’s impact certainly wasn’t limited to the mound. He hit .465 with 12 doubles, five home runs and 23 RBIs even though opportunities to hit were scarce late in the season as teams pitched around him with more frequency. As an outfielder, Zobac learned and improved to the point that Diatte says he will be a plus defender in college. He’ll take all of those characteristics to Cal in the fall when he heads to Berkeley alongside his sister, Kacey, herself a highly touted addition to the Golden Bears’ softball team. But, perhaps even more important than a skill set that projects well on the college level is a work ethic and a desire to keep learning. “I could go on and on and on about him because he’s such a great kid and he works so hard,” Diatte said. “He’s a great team leader, a great teammate, everybody loves him in the clubhouse. He’s just a fun kid to have around.” ✪ — Story by Ben Enos, Photo by Doug Stringer

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s the De La Salle Spartans chased their third straight North Coast Section Division I championship in 2018, sophomore pitcher Kyle Harrison played a huge role. He boasted a 9-1 record on the mound with a sterling 1.17 ERA — but was not given the ball for the championship game. That was something he made sure wouldn’t happen again in 2019. “He could have pitched the final last year, but I don’t like throwing sophomores into a championship game,” coach David Jeans said. “Although he was ready, you have to have that chip on your shoulder coming into these games — something he clearly had this year.” Harrison proved his coach right. He allowed just two hits over 5.1 innings. He gave up one earned run and struck out 10 to help the Concord school top Heritage-Brentwood 10-1 and roll to an unprecedented Div. I four-peat. It was a performance that made his selection as NorCal Pitcher of the Year a no-brainer. “I was ready to get the nod,” Harrison said. “I was excited to compete and prove to my teammates I had as much faith in them as they had in me.” Along with his calm and “keep grinding mentality,” Harrison had the numbers to assure his teammates he was ready for every big moment this season. He finished the 2019 campaign with a flawless 10-0 record while piling on 103 strikeouts and giving up a miniscule 11 runs. Oh yeah, he also hit .286 with 24 hits, 13 runs and 20 RBI. Although unfathomable to assume Harrison could get even better for his senior season, the coaching staff sees room for growth given his work ethic and tireless dedication to his teammates. Jeans insists he found a way to level up for his guys when it counted the most. “He took the responsibility on his shoulders that 32 other kids were

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relying on him,” the coach said. “He matured into realizing he can carry this team in big moments.” Now that the 2019 championship banner is in hand and the school year is done, Harrison finds himself doing what every kid does during his or her summer vacation: Hitting the weights and attempting to find what next season’s team identity will be. Ok, so maybe not every kid takes baseball as seriously as he does. Yet that’s what has earned him his leader role moving forward. “Being a mentor is huge for me.” Harrison said. “The past seniors helped me and I want to return the respect for the next generation.” Not willing to rest on the accomplishments of a past season, he has adopted the phrase, “It starts now,” as the preparation for a fifth straight title begins before a new school year will. Sticking to that mantra, Harrison is taking part in the Prospects Development Pipeline league hosted by Major League Baseball at the IMG Academy in Florida. Although the three-week long camp could potentially land him a spot on the Under-18 USA National team, he continues to express his desire to get home and apply what he’s learned. With their UCLA-committed ace ready to rock for his final season in Spartan green, De La Salle players continue to remind each other that the 2020 championship banner isn’t hanging in the gym yet. “2019 is done. Those seniors got their names up their forever, now it’s this team’s turn,” Harrison proclaimed. Personal legacy is not necessarily a motivating factor for Harrison, but make no mistake, he wants to leave De La Salle on the right note. Winning and building bonds with teammates is the only way he knows how to accomplish that. ✪ — Story by Jesse Gomez, Photo by Jean-Paul Toshiro

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SECOND TEAM PITCHERS Brandon Chalk, Vacaville, Sr William Kempner, Valley Christian-San Jose, Sr. Josh White, Monte Vista-Danville, Sr.

FIRST TEAM PITCHERS Cooper Hjerpe, Woodland, Sr.: The 6-foot-2 lefty was dominant for the Wolves, posting a 1.43 ERA and finishing sixth in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 105 strikeouts. He added six home runs and a .427 batting average. Kyle Harrison, De La Salle-Concord, Jr.: Left-handed UCLA commit and our NorCal Pitcher of the Year went 10-0 with a 1.26 ERA and struck out 103 batters over 61 innings pitched. He allowed two hits and struck out 10 over 5.1 innings in the NCS Div. I final. Joey Schott, St Francis-Mountain View, Jr.: The right-hander was the West Catholic Athletic League Pitcher of the Year after going 6-2 with a save, striking out 52 and walking just 12. CATCHERS Cody Brockman, Modesto Christian, Sr.: An offensive machine, Brockman hit .476 with 39 hits and 36 runs in just 25 games. He added 23 RBI, 12 doubles and 12 stolen bases. Daniel Susac, Jesuit-Carmichael, Jr.: Marauders’ backstop tallied 31 hits, 19 RBI, seven doubles and three homers over 30 games for the SJS Div. I runners-up. Jack McCullar, Las Lomas-Walnut Creek, Sr.: The Diablo Athletic League-Valley MVP led the Knights with a .461 average and 37 RBI. He’ll play next for the Univ. of Puget Sound. INFIELDERS Nick Yorke, Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, Jr.: Univ. of Arizona commit led the Monarchs with a .505 batting average with 50 hits, 38 runs scored, 40 RBI and seven home runs among his 19 extra-base hits. TJ Nichols, Oakmont-Roseville, Jr.: His impressive season for the SJS Div. II champs included nine wins on the mound with a 0.24 ERA and 91 strikeouts. He also hit .523 with 45 hits, 20 RBI and 10 doubles. Zach Meddings, Franklin-Elk Grove, Sr.: The Nevada-bound star pitcher and infielder posted an 8-1 record on the hill with a 1.54 ERA. He also added 35 hits, a .376 average, 18 RBIs and four home runs in 28 games. Chris Santiago, De La Salle, Sr.: The Saint Mary’s College signee was the NCS champion’s leading hitter. He batted .407 with 13 doubles, three home runs and a team-best 38 RBI. Kyren Paris, Freedom-Oakley, Sr.: Among the Bay Area’s smoothest gloves at shortstop, Paris has already begun his professional career after being the secondround pick of the L.A. Angels. He hit .312 with 83 hits, 34 RBI and 71 runs over four seasons with the Falcons. Adam Crampton, Oakland Tech, Sr.: Stanford-bound shortstop hit .551 with 19 of 38 hits going for extra bases. He scored 35 runs, knocked in 23 and stole 21 bags. OUTFIELDERS Nick Vogt, Davis, Sr.: UC Santa Barbara-commit led the Blue Devils with a .337 batting average with 31 hits and 33 runs. Vogt also led his squad with 31 RBI and five homers. Mason Poisson, Del Campo-Fair Oaks, Sr.: Slated to suit up for Sac City College after leading Del Campo with a .490 batting average and 39 RBI. He also hit 12 doubles and five homers. Devereaux Harrison, Vacaville, Sr.: The Long Beach State-bound two-way star was a legitimate Player of the Year candidate after going 6-0 with a 0.71 ERA and three saves on the mound while also hitting .390 with 39 hits, 29 runs, 29 RBI and 11 doubles. Eddie Park, Valley Christian-San Jose, Jr.: The Stanford commit led the Central Coast Section Open Div. champs in runs (43) and hits (40). He also played errorfree for 32 games.

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CATCHERS Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock, Jr. Carson Blatnick, Oakmont-Roseville, Jr. Matthew Sugden, Foothill-Pleasanton, Sr. INFIELDERS Nathan Van Patten, Bear River-Grass Valley, Sr. Hunter Dorraugh, Vacaville, Sr. Alex Kendrick, Buhach Colony-Atwater, Sr. Eamonn Lance, DrakeSan Anselmo, Sr.

Mason Poisson

Josh Kasevich, Palo Alto, Sr. OUTFIELDERS CJ Hutton, Folsom, Jr. Ryan Harvey, Woodcreek-Roseville, Sr. Blake Burke, De La Salle, Soph. Glenallen Hill Jr., Santa Cruz, Sr. Robbie Hamchuk, Leigh-San Jose, Sr. MULTI-PURPOSE Jonathan Cymrot, Valley Christian, Soph. Max Ramirez, Los Banos, Sr.

Ryan Jackson Collin Barber, Pleasant Valley-Chico, Sr.: The 6-1 lefty led the Northern Section with 10 home runs while batting .493 batting with 37 hits, 42 RBI and 45 runs scored. He signed with the Houston Astros after being a fourth-round selection. MULTI-PURPOSE Steven Zobac, Valley Christian-San Jose, Sr.: Our NorCal Player of the Year, the Cal-bound talent batted .465 with 40 hits, 28 runs, 23 RBI and 12 doubles. He also went 6-1 with four saves, a 0.23 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60.2 innings of work. Nick Kresnak, Acalanes-Lafayette, Jr.: The hard throwing righty gave the Dons production on the mound and from the plate. He had a team best .366 batting average, stole 16 bases and pitched 45 innings with a 1.09 ERA. Ryan Jackson, Heritage-Brentwood, Jr.: The middle infielder and hard-throwing righty led the Patriots to the NCS Div. I final by batting .582 with 53 hits and 28 RBI. He also went 4-0 with two saves and a 0.76 ERA. ✪

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Daniel Carrion, Winters, Sr. ✪

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f Oakdale’s Cal-Hi Sports State Championship softball team is the Avengers, then Lexi Webb is surely its Iron Ma’am. The Mustang’s home-run clubbing, strikeout pitching, Thanos-killing senior was the hero we deserved this Spring, and a relatively easy choice as the SportStars Magazine NorCal Softball Player of the Year. She led Oakdale to a 29-1-1 season, tossed two perfect games, smashed 10 home runs and collected 43 RBI — and her Sac-Joaquin Section championship ring doesn’t even have an infinity stone. “If you watched Lexi at any point this season, you would see right away how determined she was to make this year special,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “And while the reason I am getting calls and why she is getting accolades is softball, I have to tell you that she is as every bit a good person as a softball player. “I have known her since she was little girl at Kerr Park playing rec’ ball, and it is really neat to see what she has become.” Webb will depart Oakdale for a softball scholarship at Fresno State this fall. Her bio on the Bulldogs athletic site will read something like this: Lexi Webb was a four-year standout at Oakdale High in the Valley Oak League, where she was hailed its MVP. She was also the Modesto Bee Spring Sports Athlete of the Year, the Front Row Preps Softball Player of the Year, Cal-Hi Sports Medium School Player of the Year and SportStars Magazine NorCal Softball Player of the Year. Her senior year, Webb tossed 271 strikeouts with just seven walks across 154 innings, allowing only seven earned runs (0.63 ERA). She also pitched 13 shutouts and threw two perfect games. At the plate, Webb hit .598 with 43 hits, 43 RBI and 10 home runs. She also managed 24 extra-base hits, walked 28 times and stuck out just three times. It’s a sterling bio. “(Being recognized as a Player of the Year) makes me proud because all my hard work has paid off,” Webb said. “ It makes me feel blessed with the opportunities I have

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been given.” She’s come a long way. Two years ago, Webb was a respected prep recruit, but mostly highlighted for her hitting. When she developed her pitching, especially over the offseason in 2018, she became a must-have player for collegiate programs. She throws 66-68 MPH and aggressively challenges even the best hitters. “She is one of the best pitchers I have ever seen” Loger said. “She can fool you in a number of ways. It really comes down to determination with her.” Webb had initially committed to Southern Alabama, but Fresno State landed her final commitment, partly because of their eagerness to play her as a pitcher/hitter and partly because of the successful program/coaches — but mostly because of the proximity to home. Fresno State’s West Coast schedule in the Mountain West Conference will allow Mom and Dad (Loretta and Steven Webb) and sisters (Elizabeth and Lesie Webb) to attend games. Since 13-year-old Lesie has Angelman Syndrome, travel is a real issue, and Lexi is a real-good big sister. “Lesie’s mind will be like a 2-year-old’s for the rest of her life,” Lexi explained. “She likes softball and she can kind of process it, communicating with her eyes, but sometimes she falls asleep after a long day.” Big sister should thrive in a conference that contains Colorado State (39-12 in 2019), San Jose State (37-16) and UNLV (36-14). Fresno State was fourth this year at 37-20. Oakdale alum Haley Fuller also plays third base for the Bulldogs. She’s one of the four players that Lexi boasts as her greatest player-influences from the Mustangs program. She also listed Arizona standouts Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth and Oklahoma star Grace Green. She said the former Oakdale players taught her how to be a leader, how to take over a team and impact the game. The Thanos-killing stuff was self-taught. ✪ — Story and photo by Ike Dodson

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here’s often no better compliment for an elite athlete than calling him or her a “big game performer.” When the stakes are highest, the best players are the toughest to beat. Nicole May checks that box. Over and over again. “Every big game, she gets bigger,” Foothill-Pleasanton softball coach Matt Sweeney said following the North Coast Section Division I championship, which the Falcons won 2-0 over Heritage-Brentwood. “The Sheldon game in the (Livermore) Stampede. The playoff games and championship. It’s hard to keep that kind of level throughout the course of the year.” But May sure can sure summon it. In the NCS final against Heritage, the Oklahoma commit spun a one-hit shutout gem. She struck out 13 and walked just one — against a Heritage lineup that entered the game hitting over .400 as a team and averaging 9.7 runs through its first 27 contests. “Nicole today. Holy cow,” Sweeney marveled. “She’s typically at 6162 (miles per hour) and today’s a big game and she’s at 63-64.” And then there’s this: She knocked in the championship game’s only runs with a 2-run home run in the third inning. The final was 2-0. “I was just trying to go with it and score the runner that was on base,” she said later. “And it went over, so I’ll take that. Obviously.” The fact that May is just a junior and returns for one more season is something Sweeney will definitely take. Obviously. May was an easy selection for NorCal Pitcher of the Year after going

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24-0 with a 0.32 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 151 innings pitched. She allowed just seven earned runs and only 13 walks. Her offensive numbers were nearly as impressive — a reason she was one of five finalists for Cal-Hi Sports’ Ms. Softball State Player of the Year award. She hit .463 with 38 hits and 28 RBI over 28 games. She had eight doubles and five home runs. Foothill’s championship was its second in three seasons, but the 2019 title came with the best record produced by any NCS Div. I team — 28-0. Previously, the section’s best undefeated record belonged to the Falcons’ cross-town rival, Amador Valley-Pleasanton. The 2014 Amador Valley NCS championship team went 27-0. May was asked after the game what it took to get through a grueling 28-game schedule without a single blemish. “We just tried to focus on coming out and competing, and not like, ‘If we don’t win this, we’ll lose our streak,’” she said. “It was awesome. We had a really good group of girls and we came and grind everyday. We just come out to play.” May will come out to play again in 2020 as part of a very similar lineup to the one that went undefeated. That lineup will include heavily-recruited slugging catcher, Courtney Beaudin, as well as spark plug Hailey Hayes at second. Expectations will be high. Which means more big moments. And more of Nicole May raising her game. None of which is good news for the rest of NorCal softball ✪ — Story and photo by Chace Bryson

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SECOND TEAM PITCHERS Delia Scott, HeritageBrentwood, Sr. Karina Faasisila, Tracy, Sr. Bailee Reed, Antioch, So. CATCHERS Reyna Cota, River CityWest Sacramento, Sr. FIRST TEAM PITCHERS Nicole May | Foothill-Pleasanton | Jr.: A no-brainer for NorCal Pitcher of the Year honors after posting a 0.32 ERA and a 24-0 record with 246 strikeouts in 151 innings of work. She also hit .463 with 38 hits and 27 RBI. Marissa Bertuccio | Golden Valley-Merced | Sr.: The Sacramento State-bound hurler led the state with 28 wins. Bertuccio posted 17 shutouts, tossed three nohitters and struck out 308 batters in 203.2 innings of work. Elizabeth Avery | Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland | Sr.: She posted a 19-4 record and a 0.77 ERA. The Boston University signee also tallied 297 strikeouts over 154.2 innings while hitting .525 with 14 doubles and eight homers. CATCHERS Courtney Beaudin | Foothill-Pleasanton | Jr.: She entered the offseason uncommitted, though 2019 NCAA national champion UCLA is considered the frontrunner. Beaudin hit .493 on 39 hits with 28 RBI and seven homers. Kacey Zobac | Valley Christian-San Jose | Sr.: Cal-bound talent is a monster at the plate — .607 average, 37 hits, 33 RBI, 11 double, four triples and 11 homers — and behind it. She threw out 10 of 13 attempted base stealers. Makenzie Macfarlane | Whitney-Rocklin | Sr.: She led the Wildcats to the program’s first-ever SJS title. The Utah State signee hit .489 with a team-high 35 RBI to go with 46 hits and 21 runs. INFIELDERS Savannah Price | East Nicolaus | Jr.: Price was a major cog in a potent Spartans offense that steamrolled opponents en route to a Northern Section title. She batted .500 with 50 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 41 RBI and 23 stolen bases. Kiannah Pierce | Sheldon-Sacramento | Jr.: The North Carolina commit sparked the Huskies in the field and at the top of the batting order, leading the team with a .562 average, 54 hits, 34 runs, and nine doubles. Xiara Diaz | Heritage-Brentwood | Sr.: A Cal Poly-signee, Diaz was an offensive force for the NCS Div. I runners-up. She hit .587 with 54 hits, 51 runs scored, 39 RBI and 11 home runs. She also was 36-for-36 in stolen base attempts. Megan Grant | Aragon-San Mateo | Fr.: Grant showed immediately why UCLA already has her commitment. She hit .500 with 42 hits, 51 RBI, 11 doubles and 13 home runs — as a freshman. Savannah Whatley | Archbishop Mitty-San Jose | Jr.: The West Catholic Athletic League’s Co-Player of the Year batted .574 with 39 hits, 22 runs and 25 RBI. She’s committed to Utah. Julia Scardina | Marin Catholic-Kentfield | Sr.: Quite simply, she can mash. She’ll take her bat to Utah in the fall after using it to hit .671 with 47 hits, 55 RBI, 10 doubles and 13 homers for the 25-1 NCS Div. III champions. Hope Alley | Foothill-Pleasanton | Sr.: In addition to impeccable play at shortstop, the Pittsburgh-bound Alley was also the leadoff hitter for the 28-0 Falcons. She had 37 hits and scored 30 runs to go with four homers and 15 RBI. OUTFIELDERS Diamond Holland | Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland | Jr.: Cal-bound talent made everything go for the Central Coast Section Open Div. champions. She hit .493 with 36 hits, 35 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. Mazie Macfarlane | Whitney-Rocklin | Sr.: Formed a potent 1-2 punch with twin sister Makenzie. The versatile OF/1B led the Wildcats with a .533 batting average, 48 hits and 47 runs. Kelsey Hall | Bella Vista-Fair Oaks | Sr.: Slugging outfielder will take her talents to Fresno State after punishing opposing pitchers. Hall batted .563 with 40 hits and 40 RBI.

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Angelita Fuentes, Notre Dame-Sherman, So. Alexis Bishop, San Marin-Novato, Jr. INFIEDLERS Hannah Damore, St. Francis-Mountain View, Sr. Kaylee Pond, Acalanes-Lafayette, Jr. Ariyana Miranda, Elk Grove, Sr. Tianna Bell, Heritage, Sr. Nicole Hammoude, Bishop O’DowdOakland, Sr.

Xiara Diaz

Nina Pennisi, Chico, Sr. Ellen Ebbers, FoothillPleasanton, Sr. OUTFIELDERS Ashely Trierweiler, Carlmont-Belmont, Sr. Tai WIlson, VandenFairfield, So. Sydney Frankenberger, California-San Ramon, Sr. Tatum Hayes, Granada-Livermore, Sr. MULT-PURPOSE Tehya Bird, Cloverdale, Jr. Hannah Ortega, Linden, So. Kyle Potes, Las Plumas-Oroville, Jr. ✪

Elizabeth Avery Morgan Hess | Heritage-Brentwood | Sr.: Idaho State will be getting this smooth-hitting lefty who hit .495 with 46 hits, 44 runs scored, 32 RBI and 12 doubles during her senior year. MULTI-PURPOSE Lexi Webb | Oakdale | Sr.: Our NorCal Player of the Year led Oakdale to its sixth SJS championship by going 18-1 in the circle with a 0.65 ERA while striking out 248 batters in just 139 innings. At the dish, the Fresno State-bound star crushed 11 homers while batting .597 with 45 RBI. Jordyn Hutchins | Woodland Christian | Sr.: The Stanford commit slugged her small school to an SJS Div. VI title. Hutchins batted .580 with nine homers and 31 RBI. She also pitched 84 innings and went 11-1 with a 1.83 ERA. Cayla Williams | Santa Teresa-San Jose | Sr.: Williams was a big reason behind the Saints’ nine-win improvement from last year. She hit .629 with 61 hits, 37 RBI and 13 doubles. Pitching, Williams was 12-1 with 77 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA. ✪

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Sac-Joaquin Issue 167 July 2019  

Sac-Joaquin Issue 167 July 2019  

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