The thing that most attracted Samajie Grant to Arizona was the their willingness to let him go. While some of the other schools recruiting the Colony High School wide receiver were discrediting each other, Arizona took the high road. Grant, in turn, verbally committed to the Wildcats on Friday among a final three that included UCLA and Utah.
The three-star prospect rated the No. 74 recruit in the state by rivals.com also had offers from Washington State, San Diego State, and New Mexico State. Arizona offered him shortly after the end of the 2011 football season and head coach Rich Rodriguez closed the deal on Grant’s recent unoffical visit by essentially leaving the door open.
“A lot of the schools were telling me to come to them and forget everybody else,” said Grant. “Arizona was telling me to go the best place for me. Even (Rodriguez) was like ‘I would love for you to come here, but if you don’t end up here that’s cool too.’”
They say it’s difficult to beat a team 3 times in the same season, but it didn’t seem especially difficult for the Chino HIgh softball team on Saturday.
The Cowgirls scored multiple runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings, built a 10-1 lead and held on to beat Don Lugo 10-6 in the CIF-SS Division 2 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium. Chino beat Don Lugo for the 3rd time this season. The Cowgirls won a pair of Mt. Baldy League contests this year to win the league title.
Chino took advantage of five Don Lugo errors to score five unearned runs.
Three of the runs that were earned came home on sophomore pitcher Miranda Viramontes’ 3-run home run in the third inning.
Viramontes had some control issues in the 6th, walking four, hitting two and allowing five runs. But she retired the final batter of the inning with two runners on base and set Don Lugo down in order in the seventh.
Relatively speaking, a two-run lead must have felt like twice that considering the circumstances for Miranda Viramontes in the last two weeks.
With three of the last four games for the Chino High School softball team decided by one run — not to mention the pressure of a 27-year wait and entire school riding on her shoulders — retiring Lakewood’s final batter with the tying run on second to seal a 2-0 Chino victory in the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals was just the latest in a line of dramatic feats for the sophomore.
Viramontes pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts in addition to hitting the go-ahead solo home run in the fourth inning to earn Chino its first berth in a CIF championship game since 1985.
Of all the possible opponents, the Cowgirls (24-9) will face a team from its own city in the final after Don Lugo’s 2-1 victory in the other Division 3 semifinal. The last time the two Mt. Baldy League foes met, it took Chino nine innings to churn out a 1-0 victory.
Kailey Palazzolo’s fifth-inning blast was just close enough to a game-sealing two-run home run to provide La Mirada a circus catch and its only source of momentum all game. Turns out Palazzolo just had to wait two more innings to hit the actual game-winner as the Don Lugo shortstop’s walk-off single gave the Conquistadores a 2-1 victory that advanced the second-place team from the Mt. Baldy League to Tuesday’s CIF-SS Division 2 semifinal against Moreno Valley Valley View.
As Mt. Baldy League champion Chino continues to march through the top half of the bracket, Don Lugo (20-5) reached its first semifinal in seven years.
“It was only fitting that Palazzolo got the game-winning hit after she was robbed like that,” Don Lugo coach Ray Sheffield said. “There’s only eight teams left and they’re all good but these girls just don’t want to be the ones to lose.”
Colony High School junior quarterback Matt Simko transferred to Chino Hills High School on Monday and had his eligibility approved by CIF Thursday per his family’s residence change. The Mt. Baldy League offensive player of the year last season has joined Chino Hills spring practice and is competing for the starting quarterback job with Zach Chadwick, who also plays linebacker.
All indications from Chino Hills coach Derek Bub are that he would love to avoid playing Chadwick both ways and the 6-foot-3 Simko’s arrival will likely make that an easy decision.
“I didn’t have any idea this was happening before Friday,” Bub said. “But he is going to help us a lot. He’s a great drop back passer with a cannon for an arm. He’s a ‘yes sir, no sir’ kid and all he’s done is work hard.”
On the day of the Mt. Baldy League championship two weeks later, Joe Marcos was afraid the Don Lugo High School baseball team’s 16-3 pasting of Chino on April 25 may have done its league title hopes more harm than good.
“I told them right after the game,” the Don Lugo coach said. “Don’t expect this to happen when we play them again.”
When they played again on Wednesday, it didn’t happen again but Don Lugo showed plenty of mental fortitude in grinding out a 3-1 win over Chino in a winner-take-all showdown for the league championship.
Don Lugo senior Brett Early won the pitchers’ duel with Chino’s Michael Reina, allowing one run on seven hits in a complete game that included a combined total of 19 runners stranded between the teams.
When reached by phone last night, former Colony High School football coach Matt Bechtel said he resigned Tuesday with the intent to explore other coaching opportunities, perhaps in the college ranks. It came as a surprise to many when the coach stepped down after a successful two-year run at Colony that ended with a Mt. Baldy League championship and a trip to the CIF-SS Central Division semifinals in his second season as a head coach after seven years as the Los Osos High School offensive coordinator.
Echoing Colony athletic director Jaime Sandoval’s comments on Tuesday evening, Bechtel referenced the desire to coach college football, but was clear that nothing specific is currently lined up.
“I need to do what’s best for my family and what’s best for me at this point in my life,” Bechtel said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have some opportunities presented to me virtually every season and there’s some things that have struck my attention. I don’t have anything for sure in the works, but I have a good feeling that things are going to develop.”
Garey filled its vacancy for a new head football coach by hiring former Diamond Ranch offensive coordinator Al Brown on April 17. Brown, who spent five seasons at Diamond Ranch, takes over for Leonard Hudson, who was fired in February after a winless 2011 season.
“After 20 years of being an assistant, I thought it was the right time and the right place,” Brown said. “I told the kids we only have to change one thing, and that’s everything.”
Garey made the playoff for the first time 10 years with a fourth-place finish in the Mt. Baldy League in 2010, but fell on hard times again last year. Brown is coming from another program in Pomona that has reached two CIF championship games during his tenure as offensive coordinator.
“I’m not going to come out and predict that we’ll be league champs or CIF champs, but we will compete,” Brown said. “When you’re getting beat 48-6, there’s just no fire there. I know we’ll be fundamentally sound. I know we’ll have a game plan and I know we’ll be prepared.”
Matt Bechtel resigned on Tuesday after two seasons as Colony High School’s head football coach, according to Colony athletic director Jaime Sandoval. Bechtel went 18-6 in his first two seasons as a head coach, leading the Titans to a Mt. Baldy League championship last season before reaching the CIF-SS Central Division semifinals.
“I think some other opportunities have been out there for him, particularly in the last two or three months,” Sandoval said. “I think it was a tough decision for him to leave considering he came in with such a vision for this program and the amount of work he put into it. But ultimately I think he needed to look at those other opportunities.”
Bechtel did not immediately return a message Wednesday evening. Bechtel offered to coach the team through the end of spring football and Sandoval said he expects Bechtel to finish out the school year as a teacher at Colony before perhaps taking another job. Colony is already attempting to find a replacement for Bechtel, who came to Colony after seven seasons as the offensive coordinator at Los Osos High School. Bechtel has even offered to aid the new coach in an effort to ease the transition, according to Sandoval.
Colony senior Kyree King had a big day on Saturday, to say the least. The sprinter posted the state’s best time this season in, not one, but two events at the Sacramento meet of champions. King equaled the state’s best mark with a 10.54-second 100 meters and, though his coach had to convince the meet director to allow him into the 200 invitational field, he tied the state’s best time with a time of 21.21. To add even more perspective, the 200 was his sixth event of the day.
“By that time he was tired,” Colony coach Jaime Sandoval said. “I don’t think that was his best effort.”