Love, baseball will be in the air at UCSB on Friday

In his debut at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, UCSB baseball assistant coach Jason Hawkins offered some Valentine’s Day ideas.

“If you don’t have a Valentine’s Day date or plans, I know my wife is looking forward to spending the day at the ballpark,” he said. “I encourage you to come out.”

By Barry Punzal – PresidioSports.com

The Gauchos open their baseball season Friday against North Carolina State at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Hawkins said the Gauchos are a preseason top-40 team for the first time in a decade.

“We’re pretty excited about that. We’re riding the success of last year’s regional appearance,” he said. “We lost only three players off last year’s squad.”

SBCC’s baseball team is off to a 6-0 start. Coach Jeff Walker said four local players are leading the way at the plate: Jimmy Brakka of San Marcos (.333), Santa Barbara High alums Trey Barrett (.356) and Connor McManigal (.400) and Bishop Diego’s Jack Gregson (.667).

It’s only two weeks into February and Westmont has already played 11 games, including nine in the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Warriors are 5-6 and “starting to play better baseball, which is exciting,” said coach Robert Ruiz.

Ruiz noted that starting pitcher Russell Harmening is 3-1 and Brent Fukushima, went 5-for-11 with a triple and two homers in a recent series against Vanguard. “He hadn’t had a hit on the season, so it was nice breakout weekend,” said Ruiz.

The coach added that Fukushima, a four-year player, moved from shortstop to second base because of the play of former Santa Barbara High and SBCC standout Joey Gonzales.

SOCCER

“At Santa Barbara High, we’ve been lucky or blessed with seniors who have outstanding seasons. But every senior has to start as a young player,” said Dons assistant coach Alfredo Martinez. He introduced two fine young players, sophomore midfielders Brandon Sanchez (8 goals, 4 assists) and Peter Ruiz (7 goals, 8 assists).

The Dons won the Channel League title by beating San Marcos last Saturday. They have a season record of 17-5-1.

San Marcos boys coach Rob Lauderdale brought twin brothers Luis and Miguel Torres to the luncheon. “They are some of the favorite players I’ve had the opportunity to coach,” he said. “Effort, work ethic, desire, character, all the things I look for in players, they possess.”

San Marcos girls coach Macie Berlin said her team controls its own destiny to make the CIF playoffs. The Royals (2-2-3 in Channel League) need to beat Ventura on Tuesday to finish either second or third. Berlin introduced players Ella Brewer and Tasha Wood.

Carpinteria’s Lucy Carleton brought Juan Orozco and Ruben Andrade from the boys soccer team and girls soccer players Gabi Montes de Oca and Natalie Saito. She said the boys have a shot at a CIF at-large berth if they can beat Santa Paula this week.

On the girls team, Carleton said the Warriors have shown improvement during the second round of play in the tough Tri-Valley League.

Jason Donnelly said the Bishop Diego boys and girls soccer teams are both sitting in second place in league going into the final week of the regular season.

From the boys team, he introduced central defender Jonathan Miranda, who is also the ASB president, and sophomore goalkeeper Luca Jordan.

Kate Giannini, who plays all over the field, and defender and team captain Hanna Brand represented the girls soccer team.

PREP BASKETBALL

San Marcos assistant Landon Boucher said the Royals are pulling for Santa Barbara on Tuesday night when it plays Buena. San Marcos (15-8, 5-5) is in battle with the Bulldogs (5-6 in league) for second place in the Channel League.

“We play Ventura and we’re hoping Santa Barbara can clean up business against Buena and we beat Ventura. Go Dons,” said Boucher, who brought brothers Connor and Scott Everman. Scott Everman, a 6-6 sophomore, scored 24 points in a win over Dos Pueblos on Friday.

On Boucher’s talk, Santa Barbara assistant Andy Gil said it was the first time he heard of someone from San Marcos rooting for Santa Barbara. Gil noted the Dons (10-0 in league) have won 18 straight league games going back to Jan. 31, 2013. He introduced starting guard Andrew Fay and key reserve guard Bubby Vernon.

Gil said Vernon moved back to Santa Barbara from Colorado and emailed him about trying out for the team. “He’s turned out to be the biggest surprise and one of the greatest assets to our team.”

Carpinteria coach Johnny Ward said his Warriors have won 9 of their last 10, setting up a championship showdown at Nordhoff on Wednesday. A win would give them a share of the Frontier League title.

Ward introduced his “two-headed monster in the back court,” Omar Miranda (the Athlete of the Week) and Rayshaun Moore.

Bishop Diego assistant Patrick Davis said senior Grant Sexton and sophomore Nick Busch played on the JV team as freshman and that’s helped in their development as varsity players.

Santa Barbara High girls assistant coach Jess Martinez got emotional as he talked about seniors Wendy Hernandez, Diana Escobar and Alyssa Cosio.

“It’s hard to lose seniors,” he said. “You can write X’s and O’s, but it’s hard to say good bye.” He added that the Dons are hoping for a long playoff run.

Dos Pueblos boys basketball coach Joe Zamora introduced senior Kurtis Randmaa, who is a three-sport athlete and holds a 4.75 gpa, and freshman Marcellus Gossett, who has a bright future in the program.

Bishop girls basketball coach Jeff Burich said Jordyn Lilly received the ultimate compliment on her play when she received praise from his mother.

“My mom walks up to Jordyn after a game and tells her, ‘It’s a pleasure to watch you play,’” Burich related. “That’s quite a compliment. My mom is a tough critic.”

Burich also introduced Deja Goodwin, whom he called a great teammate and a player who does a good job creating for herself and others on the court.

Bishop is 15-8 overall and 8-3 in league play. Burich said the three losses have been by a total of 10 points.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

UCSB assistant coach Dave Campbell reported that Alan Williams is the seventh leading scorer in the country with an average of 23.1 points per game. He is ranked third in rebounding at 11.1 rpg.

The Gauchos completed the first round of Big West play at 6-2. They travel to Long Beach State on Thursday.

Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore announced that the Warriors’ GSAC home doubleheader against Biola on March 1 will be breast cancer awareness night.

“We’re going to pink-out the gym for breast cancer awareness and fund raising,” she said.

There will be speakers at halftime of both the women’s and men’s games and other events are planned in the gym. It also will be Senior Night.

Westmont men’s coach John Moore had some fun with “off the record” remarks a couple speakers used during their presentations at the press luncheon.

“Off the record, I love my wife, Rachel Marie,” he began. “My second off the record is I equally love every single one of my players in the same way, in the same deep fashion — every single one of them. I don’t like them all the same, but I do love them.”

Moore noted that former player Landon Boucher was invited to speak to the Warriors basketball team prior to last Saturday’s game against San Diego Christian and gave an impressive speech.

“My assistant coach (Jeff Azain) said, ‘Of all the people who have ever spoken in our 21 years together, Landon Boucher was the best ever.’ This is a guy who’s 24 years old, a couple of years out of college, but he spoke with such passion. He’s going to be a good coach; he’s already a good coach.”

Westmont went out and beat San Diego Christian, 73-61. In their previous meeting, the Warriors lost 98-95.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETE OF MONTH
Abraham Moreno, a three-sport standout, was recognized as the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month.

Moreno plays tennis, floor hockey and basketball. He’s won two gold medals and a silver in floor hockey and has scored 37 goals.

He’s a power forward on the basketball team, averaging 15-20 points a game, said his coach Aaron Brown.

A graduate of Dos Pueblos High, Moreno attends SBCC and works at Easy Lift.

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