SANTA BARBARA ATHLETIC ROUND TABLE LUNCHEON
San Marcos High played rock-solid baseball at Arizona’s Chris Moon Memorial Tournament, beating Tucson High for the championship.
But the Royals’ coach found the rock walls to be just as solid while on a team-bonding outing.
“We did some hiking out in the desert … and I split my lip as I tried to scale a rock wall,” Jacob Pepper said during Monday’s Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café.
The Royals won their last three games, getting strong performances from such three-year varsity veterans as Jack Winterbauer and Erik Larson.
“In the semifinal game, Jack was 4-for-4 and was just a triple shy of the cycle,” Pepper said. “He’s leading our team in hits, RBIs, and he came in and closed our championship game.”
The team is now calling Larson “The Sniper,” he added, because of the range in centerfield.
“The ball flies in the desert, but he was able to make some amazing plays,” Pepper said. “His speed is just so unbelievable that he’s a threat at all times.”
Santa Barbara went 2-1-1 at the Arizona Spring Break Tournament in Phoenix. The wins included Derek Cheverez True’s 6-1 pitching gem over Colorado Springs’ Pine Creek High, the fourth-ranked team in Colorado.
“He threw five innings, had 10 Ks, one walk, one hit, and just completely shut down this heavy-hitting team,” coach Steve Schuck said. “On the season, he’s 5-0, has 45 Ks against 15 walks, and that’s just on the pitching side.
“Offensively, he’s our No. 3 hitter. He leads the team in home runs and RBIs, is tied for the lead in doubles and triples, tied third on the team in stolen bases. As you can see, he’s a big part of our program.”
The Dons have also benefitted from the emergence of another senior pitcher, Cody Orud.
“Cody has been nothing but a workhorse at practice and, finally, 21/2 weeks ago, he worked his way right into the pitching rotation,” Schuck said. “Since then, in four appearances, he’s only given up three runs, three hits, and no walks.
“It’s a testament to his will, his passion, his grit … He never gave up.”
Carpinteria has been a high-wire act this season, with seven of its 11 games decided by just one run. Coach Pat Cooney noted that his players have remained composed throughout the drama.
“Part of that is due to this calm, athletic nature of our guys,” he said. “We share our athletes. They play lots of sports and are used to the competitive situation.”
Two of those athletes are juniors Jacob Macias and Diego Hernandez, who are both interchangeable at shortstop and catcher.
“Jacob is one of the most competitive people on campus, definitely within the baseball team,” Cooney said of Macias. “He’s also one of our most athletic.”
He added that although Hernandez is not one of the biggest catchers around, “He’s a huge player for our team”
Bishop Diego also has been aided by versatile athletes such as juniors Daniel Giannini and Jackson Haskell.
“Both of these guys play multiple positions and are huge factors in how we go about the rotation with our starting pitchers,” coach Nick Katzenstein said. “Daniel has played first base, shortstop, left field …. He can pretty much play any position on the baseball field, and he’s a pitcher, too.
“Jackson is our starting centerfielder. He’s also our closer … We went to Jackson in our 3-3 tie game against Foothill Tech. A closer normally pitches about one inning, and I think Jackson pitched 4.1 innings that game. He’s doing it all. He’s also our backup catcher.”
UCSB’s first series win at perennial power Cal State Fullerton since 2007 was “really monumental” said Emily Holland, the Gauchos’ director of baseball operations. She noted that the Gauchos are now in the top 10 nationally in RPI (No. 9) and in the top 25 in the national polls (No. 17).
She singled out veteran catcher Eric Yang and rookie pitcher Michael McGreevy for their performances.
“Eric has been really hot lately, so we’re excited to see where he goes,” Holland said. “And Michael, who is a true freshman, has stepped up a lot this season. He threw 10 innings this week and came away with a 2.7 ERA.”
Westmont, which started the season with a 22-5 record and No. 3 national NAIA ranking, has lost four of its last six games and several key players to injury. That includes two starting pitchers, the closer, and the starting first baseman. Star third baseman Luke Coffey from Dos Pueblos High is also playing with a thumb injury, sports information director Ron Smith said.
On the positive side, he added, “Robert Ruiz just got his 281st coaching win, which ties the program record which was set by John Kirkgard back in the ’70s and ’80s.”
Two young players – sophomore pitcher Allie Fryklund and freshman outfielder Izabella Velasquez – have been carrying big loads for San Marcos.
“Allie does everything,” coach Jeff Swann said. “She’s our No. 3 hitter, hits a ton out of the ball. … In practice, she’s hitting half of her balls over the fence. We make sure she stays healthy and we’ll go a long way.”
Velasquez has come along way since fall drills, he added.
“She’s not very big but she’s got a great whip on the ball with her bat and hits it really hard,” Swann said. “She’s really developed a great swing. She has a great arm, too. I’m really impressed with her growth.”
Senior Rebecca Bray, a three-year varsity letter winner, and freshman Madison Mora are bringing “great personality and great energy” to the team at Carpinteria, coach Dakotah Wilcox said.
“Rebecca is my starting third baseman and my leadoff batter,” she said. “Maddie is more my utility player. I have her starting at second base, but she can also pitch, she can play in the outfield.
“These two girls, together, are a riot. They’re great to have on the team.”
Bishop Diego coach MeLinda Matsumoto is excited to have all six of her veteran players on the field at the same time now that junior Sydney Nauor has returned from an ankle injury.
“She’s my true captain, having the patience in explaining to the other girls what to do, how to do it, where to throw the ball,” she said, “and not being upset about it, but really wanting to teach everyone.”
Freshman Amy Mancinelli has also been another bright spot, Matsumoto added.
“She started playing shortstop, she’s played first, she’s played third, and I’ve stuck her in right,” she said. “She’s even started pitching for us. She had her first start last week against Malibu. It’s really nice to see her confidence on the mound really growing.”
UCSB remains upbeat despite getting swept by Cal State Fullerton in three close games last weekend to start Big West Conference play.
“We have UC Davis coming up this weekend and last year we won the series 2-1,” assistant coach Alysia Hendricks said. “This year, we have them at home, and we’re excited about that. Then the following week, we head off to Hawaii … So we’re looking forward to really diving into conference.”
San Marcos assistant coach Makenzy Fowler introduced three of the swimmers – Emma Engmyr, Megan Musick, and Chloe Van Bogelen – who helped the Royals beat Santa Barbara in last week’s cross-town meet.
“Emma is one of my distance swimmers – she has been improving quite a lot and really holds down the fort for our relays,” Fowler said. “Megan is competing in the 50 free, the 100 free, and also for the relays. She has also been doing a great job.
“Chloe really brings some great effort to our team. She not only works hard in the water but also in the classroom.”
Young water polo players such as Ryan Drake, Sean O’Brien, Ana Julie Martinez do Amaral, and Dela Bucy have buoyed Santa Barbara High’s swimming program, coach Mark Walsh said.
“Ryan was one of our star water polo players as a freshman and had a couple of big, game-winning shots for us early this season,” he said. “We knew he was fast because we do some swim tests. He’s been one of our top butterfliers and backstrokers, which are difficult events to swim if you’re not a natural, year-round swimmer.
“Sean is uber-fast. He’s got quickness, and he can do the long events, the shorter events. We put him in the 200 IM because he’s such a versatile swimmer.”
Amaral never misses a practice in water polo or swimming, Walsh noted.
“She’s one of our main swimmers in the 50 and in the 100, and 200, and had a great swim in the 200 in our last meet,” he said. “I also swam her in the fly and the breaststroke. She’s one of our best swimmers in both of those events as well, and she’s only a sophomore.”
Bucy is making her Dons’ debut as a junior, transferring to Santa Barbara this year from Midland School. Walsh wasn’t sure she’d be able to compete because of a shoulder injury, but she came back in time for the water polo playoffs.
“Now she’s our top breaststroker and sprint freestyler,” he said. “Thank you for everything you’ve done to get back.”
Santa Barbara High had a gloomy first half of the season with rainouts and overtime defeats, but coach Andrew White noticed how the team stuck together to post a big road win at Calabasas last week.
“Our leaders stepped up and rounded the team up,” he said.
“The coaches kind of stepped away to watch this special thing happen.”
Next up are matches this week against Cate and Thacher, and next week against rival San Marcos.
“We’re really looking forward to the second part of our season,” White said.