The road to the softball College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. has been long and winding for former Diamond High School star Kristen Miller.
But that won’t matter at all to Miller when she and her Arizona State teammates go for the collegiate softball crown, beginning Thursday.
The senior catcher, who began her collegiate career at nearby Long Beach State, has played a big part in the Sun Devils rise to the top, hitting a solid .329 with 16 home runs and 56 RBis. That followed last season’s break-through campaign when she hit 11 home runs with 26 RBIs and a .507 slugging percentage.
Miller, the younger sister of former Diamond Bar baseball player Dustin Miller who helped Cal State Fullerton to the College World Series in 2003, and her teammates open the Women’s College World Series against Alabama at 4 p.m. All games are on ESPN HD.
Here’s to bringing home the title for this former Valley star.
After an injury earlier in the season Pasadena Poly graduate Rob Rasmussen has returned to the UCLA lineup. Rasmussen has appeared in five games and is 0-0 with a 5.06 ERA. In 10 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 11 hits, six runs, all earned, seven walks and has struck out five. In Pac-10 play, he has a 5.40 ERA, in 5.0 innings. He’s allowed seven hits, three runs, four walks and has one strikeout.
How about Cal State SGV, er Fullerton.
The Cal State Fullerton baseball team, which has shown some San Gabriel Valley flavor for much of the past decade and beyond, has turned around what early appeared to be an average season and is suddenly on fire, rising from outside the Top 25 to inside the Top 10, dropping into the No. 8 slot in this week’s Baseball America ranks.
It looks to be like another Omaha summer for the Titans.
And again the Titans have some SGV roots to thank. In the past it was such former area players as PJ Pilitterre of Bishop Amat, Dustin Miller and Danny Dorn of Diamond Bar, Brett Pill of Covina, Sergio Pedroza of Northview and Wes Roemer of Glendora.
Now Gary Brown, of Diamond Bar, is bringing that 626 flavor to the 714, being a steady .285 hitter with a speed persona on the base paths with 16 steals in 19 attempts. Brown has also shown some power, hitting five home runs with 24 RBIs.
He will be action when Fullerton hosts San Diego State in a nonconference series this weekend before closing the regular season against rival Long Beach State at Blair Field in Long Beach.
This blog is usually about keeping up with the sporting careers of our past area prep stars. But in the wake of former area prep star Felipe Aguilar being named just the fourth football coach at Los Altos last week, I thought what better time than to discuss how in 2000 I picked Aguilar over Shaun Cody, who is now with the Detroit Lions, as this area’s football Player of the Year.
A variety of different people have asked me over the years how I could make such a decision when Cody had more upside potential for future greatness of the two.
But my view of Player of the Year, as does college football’s Heisman Trophy, is not all about what player has greater potential, but who had the better season that year and who is more valuable. That’s always been my criteria, and will continue to be.
It’s the same reason I didn’t didn’t select Charter Oak’s Chuck Tiffany first team all-area during his junior season. While he was clearly the player in the area with the most talent, he didn’t play enough due to injury that season, in my mind, to warrant first team all-area. But that’s an argument for another post.
Back to the topic.
Cody was clearly the most-talented player in the area in 2000. You knew he had the potential to be a collegiate All-American, and to eventually play in the NFL. But again, I’ve always judged it by what happens on the field, not potential or talent.
The Aguilar argument: He had arguably the single-best season ever by a Valley quarterback, matching Pat Haden’s Valley record of 42 TD passes and coming within 67 yards shy of Mike Smith’s passing yardage mark. He also marched Los Altos back from playoff elimination, leading them on an 80-yard TD drive with less than two minutes to play in a 28-27 victory over California in the divisional semifinals.
The Cody argument: From an athletic standpoint, the most talented player in the area in 2000. He would later become an All-American at USC and play for the Detroit Lions of the NFL. He was a sack machine at Los Altos, getting 33 his junior year and backing it up with 23 in 2000. He also was the top tight end in the area, and also showed is worth as bull-dozing fullback near the goal line. He also came up big in Los Altos’ victory over Charter Oak in the divisional finals.
The final decision: As far as I was concerned, there was no wrong decision here. Cody, like stated above, was clearly the most-talented player in the area, but matching a Valley record that was held by arguably one of the area’s all-time players, was hard to overlook, and in the end, I couldn’t. Also, Aguilar leading Los Altos on the drive in the semifinals ranks, on the high-school scale in my mind, right up there with John Elway’s “The Drive.” It’s what quarterbacks are expected to do, and when they do, they are rewarded. I did the same with Aguilar.
Final thoughts: I still have no regrets and stand by my decision to this day.
I’ve never heard any arguments from either player, so I will take that as approval.