Dos Pueblos High pitchers Cole Philip and Ali Borden may have had their senior seasons curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’ll both be getting a freshman start next year.
They were among 19 Charger athletes that signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to compete in college.
“It was saddening and it’s a bummer,” Philip said of the cancellation of this season, “but it can’t take away all the memories and friendships that we’ve built over the years.”
“I’ve been playing since I was 6 or 7 years old,” Borden said, “and I’m just glad that I’ll be getting the chance to play again.”
Philip signed to play baseball at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs while Borden will be pitching for the University of Redlands softball team.
Philip’s baseball teammate, Conner Gleissner, signed with Cal State San Marcos.
Soccer produced DP’s most collegiate recruits: Hayden Carlson (UC Davis), Stoney Yoos (Chapman), Aldo Becerril (Westmont), and C.J. Rodriguez (Illinois Wesleyan) from the boys’ team, and Emilia Kling (Western Oregon), Isabella Vazquez (Eastern University) and Reyna Zuzunaga (The Master’s) from the girls’ squad.
Four athletes from the girls’ water polo team are also headed for collegiate careers: Anna Cable (UC Davis), Sabina Shackleford (UC Irvine), Bella Godlis (Brown University), and Shannon Connolly (Marist College). Ethan Parrish, meanwhile, is following in the footsteps of his brother Blake, having signed last fall with Stanford’s highly ranked water polo program.
All-CIF football back Conner Lee, who also advanced to the State Wrestling Championships, signed to play for Whitworth University.
Olivia Geyling, the first DP lacrosse player to score more than 100 career goals, is headed for George Fox University while Mikayla Butzke, a three-sport star, is bound for Cal State San Marcos to play volleyball.
Borden had played volleyball at DP for three years before concentrating solely on softball as a senior. She went 6-0 with an earned run average of 1.73 as a junior while sharing the pitcher’s circle with Allison Speshyock, who pitched this spring for Siena College. Borden also batted .329 while playing mostly outfield.
“My coach at Redlands (Jose Ortega) said that if you’re one of the top-line players in the field, you can compete for other positions,” Borden said.
She’s been pitching since her first season of 8-and-under softball in the Goleta Valley Girls Softball Association.
“My coach asked us who wanted to pitch, and I said, ‘I will!’” she said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Borden, the daughter of Todd and Jeannine Borden, has played for the USA Phenom club team for the last six years.
“This would be my last summer with them, and we had a couple of big tournaments on the calendar,” she said. “Hopefully we can still play in a couple of them.”
In the meantime, she’s been working out in the backyard with her dad as well as with her DP catcher “and best friend,” Bri Castro.
“I think my best pitch is a changeup, but Bri thinks it’s my screwball,” Borden said.
“Honestly, hearing that our season was being cancelled was the worst news I’ve gotten in a long time,” she added. “It looked like we were going to have a pretty strong team this season, and it was going to be the last time I’d be playing with girls who’d been my best friends since we were 8 years old.
“Having that taken away was really hard to hear. It’s taken us a while to come to terms with it.”
Philip, the son of John and Christy Philip, was coming into his own on the pitcher’s mound this spring. The 6-foot-5 and 200-pound senior had added five inches and 35 pounds to his frame — as well as 10 mph to his fastball — since his sophomore year.
“I’m kind of a late bloomer,” he said. “I’d gotten burned out on baseball but pitching got me right back into the game. I took a break from playing during the summer after my sophomore year so I could take lessons and work on my pitching the entire time.”
He trained with pitching coach Chris Joyce, a former DP and SBCC star who was drafted three times — going as high as the 10th round — before eventually signing with the Cincinnati Reds’ organization.
Philip, a third-generation Charger, pitched two innings of relief to get the win in a 4-3 victory over Camarillo shortly before this season was cancelled. He’d also recently taken a recruiting trip to both Colorado Springs and Washington’s Whitman College.
Scott Randall, a former DP star who pitched for Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, is the pitching coach at Colorado Springs. His father, Ralph Randall, had been one of Philip’s pitching coaches.
“The day I got home from my recruiting trip was when the first case of COVID-19 was found in California,” Philip said.
He’s been working out with Joyce during the coronavirus shutdown — “We’re still able to practice social distancing,” he said — and he even cleaned out an old batting cage near his home to take batting practice.
“The grass in there was about two feet high, but I got it all fixed up and started hitting right away,” he said. “I also borrowed some weights from a family friend and have been lifting at home, too.”
Philip is also hoping to play some summer baseball, if the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
“I’ll find a team no matter where it’s at to make it work,” he said. “I need to play”