San Marcos boys volleyball coach Roger Kuntz proudly wore a little green and gold on Monday at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.
Green and gold happen to be the school colors of crosstown rival Santa Barbara, but Kuntz was quick to point out they’re also the colors of his alma mater, Baylor University, where he played football. He wore his Baylor polo shirt on Monday to express his excitement over the success of the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The Baylor men are in the Sweet 16 while the women’s team is favored to win the national championship. The Lady Bears beat UCSB in a first-round game on Sunday to improve to 35-0.
Kuntz also professed his pride for UCSB, where he attended graduate school.
But those colors.
“You very seldom see me wearing green and gold; I bleed Royal blue and red,” Kuntz said. “I got my Baylor colors on today but I’ll take them off before I get back to campus.”
By coincidence, Kuntz will be seeing green and gold on the San Marcos campus this week as his Royals host Santa Barbara in a big Channel League match on Thursday night.
Kuntz introduced two veteran players from his squad, starting setter Ian Dahill and starting opposite Spencer Johnson. Both players are two-sport standouts, Dahill played on the soccer team and Johnson on the basketball team.
The San Marcos baseball team is coming off a tough 2-1 loss against Santa Barbara. Royals assistant coach Michael Sandford said, “It was a good game of baseball, or as (the late Dos Pueblos) coach (Scott) O’Leary would say, ‘It was a wonderful contest.’ ”
Sandford noted the outstanding pitching performance of senior lefthander Jimmy Brakka, who made his first start of the season and went toe-to-toe with the Dons’ Kenny Crawford — the Athlete of the Week. He struck out eight walked four and allowed one earned run.
“Kenny out-did him just a bit. It was great performance,” said Sandford.
Sandford also lauded Evan Doherty, who pitched six strong innings in a Royals win over Ventura.
Besides pitching, Brakka and Doherty are two of the better hitters for San Marcos, Sandford said.
The Royals are 5-3 after going 2-18 last year.
“Frankly, we should be undefeated; we’ve given away a couple of games,” said Sandford.
Santa Barbara assistant coach George Rempe congratulated Brakka for his composure and competitiveness in the tight game.
Rempe introduced Nate Gibson, Steve Hirschberg and Junior Zarrinnaal as three players who have good attitudes and work hard every day. The trio also play music. Gibson and Hirschberg play in the school’s marching band and Gibson and Zarrinnaal are in the jazz band.
“Along with school and baseball, they contribute to the community and their betterment,” said Rempe.
Carpinteria baseball coach Pat Cooney introduced Miguel Contreras and Alifonso Delgado as “guys who are really quiet but have gotten good at the necessary communication that you need to make on the field between players and between players and coaches.”
SBCC’s Jeff Walker brought two of his top hitters: freshman Zach Zehner and sophomore Joey Epperson. Zehner is hitting .333 with eight doubles. Epperson leads the team with a .368 average, a.506 slugging percentage and a.515 on-base percentage. He also has 13 stolen bases in 15 attempts, ranking him sixth in the state, “and he currently has the fourth-best mustache on the team,” Walker quipped.
UCSB baseball assistant Zach Etheredge also had a bunch of statistics to share. He noted that freshman pitcher Andrew Vasquez has a 1.14 earned-run average with 41 strikeouts in 31 innings. At the plate, four Gauchos are hitting over .400: Greg Mahle, Brett Vertigan, Brandon Trinkwon and Bryce Tafelski.
Turning to golf, Ryan Nomura, a former All-CIF star at San Marcos, is the first-year coach at Carpinteria High. He introduced players Joey Biro and Taylor Hodgins. Nomura has seven players on the team and two are playing the sport for the first time. “They’ve improved 10 shots per round since their first match two weeks ago,” he said.
Speaking on softball, Cooney said three-year players Tatiana Verdugo and Dakotah Wilcox are a force on campus and on the field. Verdugo also is a standout water polo player. Wilcox is the Associated Student Body Vice President.
San Marcos softball coach Jeff Swann brought two of his young players, sophomore Vicki Villegas and freshman Veronica Villarreal. Villegas was brought up from the JVs and came up with a clutch RBI hit in an extra-inning win over Ventura.
“Without her hit that could have been a loss for us,” Swann said.
On Villarreal, Swan said she’s hitting .400 and “doing the job as a No. 2 hitter.”
SBCC coach Paula Congleton introduced pitcher Alyse Harris — the Athlete of the Week — and third baseman Bryn Thompson, who is batting .300.
The Vaqueros (11-9) are the defending Western State Conference champions.
“Everybody seems to be coming after us,” Congleton said. “We have a target on our back, apparently. But that’s OK. We have a solid team and look forward to the competition.”
Lee Harris, the co-coach of the defending CIF champion Dos Pueblos softball team, cited two players who have been key to the Chargers’ success: catcher Haley Peterson and outfielder Agnetta Cleland. Both are juniors
“Haley catches Hannah Harris, which is pretty tough because the ball is coming in there pretty quick,” coach Harris said. “She’s been doing a great job. Nobody has stole a base on her all year.”
He noted that besides being a solid softball player, Cleland is part of DP’s engineering program and has an off-the-charts GPA of 5.0.
“I don’t know how she does that and play sports,” he said.
NOTE: There will be no press luncheon on Monday, March 26, because the public high schools are on spring break.