UCR tennis player earns weekly honor

Junior Erynne Oki of UC Riverside was named the Big West Women’s Tennis Player of the Week after she picked up a win in her #1 Singles match against #61 Julie Trunk of San Diego State, 6-4, 4-6, and 11-9.

Oki became the first UCR player to beat a singles player ranked that high since the school moved to Division I. It was the only point for the Highlanders in their 6-1 loss to the No. 49-rated Aztecs down in San Diego, CA last Saturday.

UCR does not return to the courts until next week when they host a dual match with Cal Poly Pomona on February 6th.

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Cal State baseball team opens play Friday

By Michelle Gardner


Staff Writer

For the Cal State San Bernardino baseball team, close has not been quite good enough the last two years. The Coyotes finished fifth in the 10-team conference, one place lower than needed to qualify for the CCAA tournament.

Ditto the previous season.

So the Coyotes are looking forward to changing that trend as the 2008 season gets underway today. Cal State, 29-22 overall and 20-16 in the CCAA last season, opens play with a 2 p.m. game against Cal State Dominguez Hills (16-36-1, 11-25) at Arrowhead Credit Union Park.

We should be much better offensively, says veteran coach Don Parnell, starting his 17th year. It will be a matter of whether or not our pitchers coming back can step it up a notch.

The Coyotes were picked to finish their familiar fifth in a preseason poll of member coaches. UC San Diego (37-25, 24-12 in 2007), Chico State (47-15, 25-11), defending CCAA champion Sonoma State (50-12, 29-7) and defending West Region champion Cal State Los Angeles (45-17-1, 27-9) were picked ahead of the Coyotes.
Three of those teams are ranked nationally by Collegiate Baseball with San Diego at 15, Los Angeles at 17 and Chico at 19.

The Coyotes return three of their four starting pitchers led by senior Matt Long (5-4, 3.30) who will today. Senior right-handers Cheyne Hann (4-6, 5.51) and Kevin Wilson (3-2, 3.68) will also hold down slots in the rotation with the No. 4 spot still up for grabs.

Parnell is high on junior Mike Leal, a transfer from Riverside Community College, but he has performed well out of the bullpen in the past and might be better suited for that role.

Others who will contribute from the mound are sophomore right-hander Brent Planck, a transfer from University of San Diego, and senior Jose Hernandez who only pitched seven innings a year ago and is coming off arm surgery. Senior right-hander Theron Cueva should also be in the mix once he returns from elbow surgery.

We are still waiting to see how things come together as far as that fourth spot, Parnell said. We have some options but we have some guys coming off injuries that were bringing along slowly.
Returning position players include senior third baseman Drew Valenzuela (.318, 31 RBI), senior second baseman Michael Minjares (.311), senior first baseman-designated hitter Kyle Walton (.303, 20 RBI) and left-fielder Justin Watson (.258).

Junior Chris Olsen, who saw limited playing time last season, replaces the graduated Patrick Walker behind the plate.

Newcomers are expected to play a major in the teams success. The most notable will be senior Jason Klug, who will swap out at first with Walton.

The Moreno Valley native played two years at San Bernardino Valley College then went on to Dominguez where he netted conference and West Region Player of the Year honors, hitting a gaudy .405 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI. He sat out last season after having arm surgery.

Were really fortunate to have him, Parnell said. He put up some monster numbers two years ago. Were not expecting him to put up the same numbers but if he can be close then it will help us a lot.
Two transfers from Los Angeles Pierce should make the starting lineup with Daniel Soles at shortstop and Andrew Tapia in rightfield.

Rounding out the starting lineup will be junior centerfielder Johnnie Haas, who is stepping for Justin Roberson who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent. Haas, a Hesperia native who played at Victor Valley College, has not played baseball in three years because he served a Mormom mission.

You would think it would take him some time to get back into it but he has looked really good, Parnell said of Haas.

Parnell expects his team to be in the hunt for a postseason playoff berth that it earned four times between 2001 and 2005.

Last year the conference was stronger than it has ever been, he said. But a lot of teams lost key players. L.A. lost 22 players, basically everyone that contributed. There is no reason that we cant be up there competing with those teams.

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Cal State, Cal Poly Pomona teams hit the road

Cal Poly Pomona basketball coach Greg Kamansky and Cal State San Bernardino coach Jeff Oliver dont think they will have to caution their teams about overconfidence when they head north to start the second round of CCAA play against San Francisco State and Cal State Monterey Bay.

The Coyotes (15-3, 8-2), ranked second in the region and 13th nationally, have a one-game lead in the CCAA over Humboldt State (12-5, 7-3) and Cal Poly Pomona (8-7, 7-3) with three other teams two games back.

Meanwhile Monterey Bay (4-12, 3-7) stands ninth out of 11 teams so it might look like an easy win. But think again. The Otters beat UC San Diego in the first go-round, something both the Coyotes and the Broncos failed to do.

They are very dangerous offensively, Oliver said. They keep coming at you, they shoot the three very well and they do not quit. You cant get rid of them.

Kamansky agrees.

They are not a 4-12 team, he said. I dont know why they havent won more games because they have given all of us fits. They never think theyre out of a game.

Then theres San Francisco State (11-6, 6-4), picked by the coaches in the preseason to finish dead last after a 6-21 showing a year ago. But the Gators have been the surprise team thus far. And like Monterey Bay, the Gators beat San Diego a week ago.

The Coyotes also have a history of struggling in the cramped, antiquated gym. Three years ago they faced the Gators in the last game of the regular season with the outright conference title on the line and lost to a then .500 team.

Cal State defeated San Francisco handily at Coussoulis Arena but the Broncos lost to the Gators at home in their first conference game of the season.

Back then it seemed like a really bad loss, Kamansky said. But they have shown theyre for real. No one is taking them lightly now. Certainly not us.

Oliver said his team is coming off perhaps its best practice of the season. The Coyotes have been led recently by senior center Michael Earl (13.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg) and senior guard Marlon Pierce (12.1 ppg, 4.1 apg) with junior Devon Davis (5.1 ppg) and senior David Reichel (6.8 ppg) putting in some quality minutes off the bench in a win over Humbolt State Saturday.

Kamansky has gotten a stellar effort from his 1-2 punch of junior forward Larry Gordon (18.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and senior guard Angelo Tsagarakis (15 ppg, 2.8 apg). But others have stepped up in recent games, most notably sophomore Donnelle Booker (7.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

Both teams face tough roads the rest of the way. The Broncos, who are ranked eighth in the region, have eight of their last 10 conference games on the road while the Coyotes are on the road for seven.

We have a tough road ahead of us, Oliver said. Humboldt is in the best shape because they have the majority of their games at home and we still have to go there.

Both womens teams will be playing the same foes. Cal State San Bernardino (14-3, 8-2) is tied atop the conference with Chico State and was a surprising second in the first West Region poll of the season released on Wednesday.

Coach Kevin Becker thought his team would be fifth or sixth.

The Broncos (8-8, 5-5) are tied for fifth in the conference but have beaten two nationally ranked teams in the last eight days – defending conference and region champion UC San Diego and Sonoma State.

Cal State gets San Francisco State tonight while Cal Poly opens play at Monterey. The teams will then swap foes the following night.

There are a two local players on the rosters of the opposing teams. Former Rialto High and San Bernardino Valley College standout JaNae Westmoreland (6.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) plays for Monterey Bay while junior guard Will Logan (5.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg), a former Apple Valley High player, is on the Gators roster.

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