The recent warm weather has been welcomed by SBCC baseball coach Jeff Walker.
After a slow start, the Vaqueros have won 11 of their last 13 games and eight in row.
“The main reason is because our biggest opponent at the beginning of the year was El Niño, which was actually ranked No. 1 in our preseason poll,” Walker cracked at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.
The rain that’s associated with an El Niño weather pattern kept the Vaqueros off their Pershing Park field for several days during January and early February. As a consequence, they started out 1-5. Walker called all over trying to reschedule games out of town.
“I was on the phone with Kurt from Santa Barbara Airbus more than my wife for scheduling games down in L.A. and driving to the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as Cerro Coso, on a Sunday, trying to get a game in,” he said.
Now that the team has been getting in practices on a regular basis, the Vaqueros have caught fire. “We’re on a roll, Walker said.
The coach lauded the contributions of area players Wes Ghan-Gibson (San Marcos High), John Jensen (Santa Barbara), Shane Hersh (Nordhoff) and Daniel Burrato (Dos Pueblos).
“We’ve also been using the unique formula of letting our opponents get ahead early and then coming back late,” he added. “I don’t recommend that but it seems to be working as of late.”
UCSB: Coach Andrew Checketts returned from Provo, Utah, where his Gauchos went 1-3 against the BYU Cougars.
“I would have brought some athletes but they’re running back,” he joked. “All the sense of humor I had I lost in the seventh on Saturday, when we were blowing another lead.”
The Gauchos led 6-2 and lost 14-8, dropping to 5-10 on the season.
UCSB is home for its next two weekend series, playing Stoney Brook this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and New Mexico State next weekend.
“We’re hoping the home cooking and our own beds will get us hot,” said Checketts.
Santa Barbara High: Coach Danny Warrecker said his team needs to make a mental bounce back after suffering a tough 1-0 loss against San Marcos last Friday.
“A couple of aspects of competing is having a mental bounce back after failures and making adjustments,” Warrecker said. “We need to have a mental bounce back and we need to make adjustments and execute all those small things.”
The Dons (1-5, 0-1) face a challenging week, playing Dos Pueblos on Tuesday, Ventura on Thursday and L.A. City Section power Chatsworth on Saturday.
Warrecker said junior shortstop Tommy Holguin is the team’s leading hitter with a .450 average. “He’s worked hard to become a competitive hitter.”
Senior Bijan Palme is second on the team in hitting and “has an opportunity to make a huge impact as a starting pitcher for us,” said Warrecker. Palme was the team’s closer last year.
San Marcos: Vince Vogel and Ryan Guardino played big roles in the Royals’ 1-0 win over Santa Barbara in the Channel League opener. Vogel relieved starter Ian Churchill and earned the save, and Guardino drove in the winning run with a single in the sixth inning.
Dos Pueblos: Coach George Hedricks said Kevin Barker and Jack McBride turned in solid pitching performances in a doubleheader sweep of Arroyo Grande last Saturday. The Chargers (5-2-1) went 3-2 in the Easton Tournament, the first time they’ve posted a winning record in the tournament in at least five years, according to the coach.
Dos Pueblos plays host to Santa Barbara on Tuesday.
Bishop Diego: Coach Ralph Molina said the Cardinals are led by veteran pitchers Will Goodwin and Gabe Arteaga.
The Cardinals play a home-and-home set with Carpinteria this week. The first game is at Carpinteria on Wednesday.
Molina said his team has started slow in their recent games. He kidded that they may head down to Carpinteria early and play an intrasquad game before taking on the Warriors.
Carpinteria: Coach Pat Cooney said his squad of 12 has become close like brothers. He introduced pitchers Sal Delgado and David Martinez, who wear the same numbers as their older brothers who went through the program. “It’s their turn to be the big brothers on our team,” said Cooney.
SBCC: Coach Randy Moharram said the men’s team has picked it up recently, winning five of its last eight matches. Santa Barbara High alum Spencer Ekola is 11-2 at No. 2 singles and is carrying a GPA of 3.84.
“I’ve officially dubbed him ‘Cucumber’ because he’s just super cool on the court,” said Moharram.
The women’s team is 7-4 (3-4 in WSC) after beating defending state champion Cerritos. Moharram said the team has been solid in doubles. Josephine Pulver and Paige Jensen are 8-1 in doubles.
He said the area players on his squad include Jensen and Tyler Bunderson of Santa Ynez, Julianna Adelman from Nordhoff, Pulver from Santa Barbara and Lesly Zapata de Lira of Carpinteria.
Westmont: Women’s coach Ellie Johnson said her team uses each match to build. The Warriors pulled out a big win over Biola last week.
The Warrior men also raised their confidence with a 7-2 win over Biola.
San Marcos boys: Seniors Lucas McDonald and Mac Merrill are four-year players for the 3-1 Royals.
San Marcos girls: coach Katelyn Standerfer has seen a lot of growth in the players. She introduced junior Abbi Smith and senior Noelle Sorenson.
San Marcos: Coach Jeff Swann likes how his team playing. The Royals are 7-2 after blanking Foothill Tech at the Manlet Invitational in Simi Valley
“We’re looking good out there. I’m really proud how our girls are battling,” Swann said.
The freshmen trio of Savannah Tait, Morgan Jensen and Claire Early has made an immediate impact. Tait, who plays first base, second base and left field, is “super fast, has a great glove, is super strong and does a great job everywhere for us,” said Swann.
Jensen played catcher. “She’s more like Velcro — anything that goes back there sticks to her. She’s the best catcher I’ve had in my seven years at San Marcos, by far,” said Swann.
He said Early always has a good time playing. “Of all the kids I’ve ever had, she has the most fun. She’s always smiling, always going 100 percent and always competing.”
Carpinteria: Senior shortstop Tori Kelley and senior first baseman Mackenzie Kephart are two players who can help the Warriors achieve their team goals. Carpinteria is 5-3 overall and 1-0 in league play.
Santa Barbara: Coach Tori Shyrock said the team is “showing a lot better promise” this season. The Dons, playing at a JV level, are 3-2-1. Shyrock introduced players Kathryn Firestone, Juliana Espinoza and Jazmin Heras.
Dos Pueblos: Coach Jon Uyesaka said the team has gotten off to slow start on defense.
“The defense has to turn it round real soon to be competitive in a real tough Channel League this year,” he said.
Senior second baseman Siena Wagner had carried the offense, batting .621. Wagner has signed a letter of intent with Purdue.
Freshman Sierra Laughner is the first freshman to start for the Chargers in four years, Uyesaka said. She is a powerful hitter.
SBCC: The Vaqueros (9-6, 4-2 in WSC) are batting .342 as a team, led by Madison McNamee’s .523 average. The team has been road warriors, playing 17 of their first 20 games on the road.
Dos Pueblos: Coach Liz Frech said captains and doubles partners Kellen Roberts and Ryan Rennick make coaching tennis worthwhile because they keep me laughing.”
Roberts and Rennick are 12-2 going in a big Channel League match at San Marcos on Tuesday.
Carpinteria: Sam Truax and Jacob Ascencio are the heart and soul of the game, coach Charles Bryant reported in a statement read by athletic director Pat Cooney.
TRACK & FIELD
Westmont: Coach Russell Smelley said athletes competing in big meets like the NAIA Indoor Nationals “is about the lessons you learn going in, the lessons you learn while there and the lessons you take away.”
He said the lesson high jumper and multi-events athlete Becky Collier learned from missing All-American honors in the high jump at last year’s indoor nationals helped her earn her 13th honor this year.
He advised the young athletes in the audience to “learn the lessons well.”
San Marcos: Coach Marilyn Hantgin said seniors Josh Harrah, Danielle Anderson, Logan Briner and Carolyn Weisman have been an integral part of the Royals program with the character they bring and their leadership.
She said Harrah is like a coach for the throws group and sets a good example for the others, and Briner is a steady member of the distance-running group. Hantgin called Anderson the “glue” of the relay teams and said Weisman is her “best jumper over the last three years.” She was a CIF finalist last year in the triple jump and has aspirations to qualify for the State Meet.
Dos Pueblos: Assistant coach Micks Purnell said senior triple and long jumper Lam Nguyen is one of the leaders on the team.