Baseball Rankings: South Pas, San Marino race to finish


1. Arcadia (20-3) — The Apaches are on the cusp of something extraordinary, and let’s hope that regardless of the outcome you guys all give them some credit.

2. Monrovia (19-3) — Wildcats celebrate their fifth straight Rio Hondo League title. The question now is, how far will Monrovia go in the playoffs with teams like Bishop Amat in the same division.

3. Alhambra (20-4) — Moors are the cream of the crop of the Almont League. They have been the last six seasons, and this is no coincidence, not with Steve Gewecke at the helm.

4. Maranatha (16-8) — Are the Minutemen ready to repeat as the Division 5 champions? Some questions remain, but Maranatha’s answered more than its left unanswered, such as showing it can bounce back after a shaky start and running away with yet another Alpha Leauge title. CIF is next.

5. Temple City (14-8-1) — The Rams had plenty of opportunities to dethrone the Wildcats as league champs, but youth at times showed its true colors. Still, there’s a lot of young talent that will wreak havoc again next year and prove it belongs among the big boys.

6. Pasadena Poly (16-6) — Panthers could be one of a few area teams that have a shot at bringing home a CIF title. Poly’s done its job during the season, challenging teams in nonleague competition and proving its strength with an unbeaten Prep League record.

7. Pasadena (13-13) — The Bulldogs just about broke even this season. There were ups and definitely some downs, but it appears as if the season will end on an even keel for Pasadena.

8. South Pasadena (12-11) — The Tigers sure are making things interesting. Sure, South Pasadena lost to Temple City on Tuesday, but coupled with a San Marino loss to Monrovia means the third and final playoff spot could be for the taking Thursday when South Pasadena visits San Marino.

9. San Marino (11-12) — Injuries and inexperience made it a difficult season for Paciorek & Co. Having Stevie Yortsos back is nice, but maybe too little too late. Don’t worry Titans, every team goes through this cycle. You’ll bounce back.

10. Flintridge Prep (11-10) — Rebels will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 team in the Prep League behind Poly.

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Softball Rankings: La Caada officially back at No. 1


1. La Caada (21-4) — I know, not the most popular move to have San Marino at No. 1 last week given the Titans’ had lost two of three against La Caada, but my rationale behind last week’s rankings was that technically San Marino was atop the Rio Hondo League standings. Suffice it to say, La Caada goes back to No. 1 after jumping ahead of San Marino in the Rio Hondo League standings.

2. San Marino (15-5) — The Titans are going to challenge for a league title, but for now there’s just too much depth ahead of them to stand toe to toe with La Caada. Either way, San Marino getting back on the winning side means only good things for the Rio Hondo League.

3. La Salle (19-6) — This is no surprise, the Lancers undefeated in Camino Real League. The question is, why schedule Maranatha as the season is winding down? What’s the point, especially when it’s likely La Salle won’t have its best nine on the field.

4. Mayfield (16-5) — The Cubs have some unfinished business with Pasadena Poly today at 3:30 p.m. It’s supposed to be senior day at Brookside Park, but the immense young talent is carrying this team.

5. Maranatha (15-10) — The Minutemen are the class of the Alpha League, that much we expected.

6. Keppel (16-2) — The Aztecs were a pleasant surprise this season, finishing second behind a good Schurr team in the Almont League.

7. San Gabriel Mission (17-1) — Won’t really know the strength of this team until come playoffs.

8. Ramona Convent (11-3) — The lone competition came against Marymount, and both times Ramona Convent showed it can hang with the best of them.

9. Temple City (12-13) — The Rams are vying for the third and final playoff spot in the Rio Hondo League. Great hitting team, but fielding is suspect.

10. Monrovia (11-11) — The Wildcats’ hopes for a playoff spot have diminished as we inch closer to the end of the season. A lot of talent, but little to show for it.

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Sports Illustrated asks, where’s the sportsmanship?

Sports Illustrated reported on the jewelry snafu from the Rio Hondo League meet pitting Monrovia and South Pasadena:

South Pasadena’s Robin Laird thought she won meet April 29 with final pole vault. But opposing coach pointed out she had string friendship bracelet against rules. Laird was disqualified on technicality, giving Monrovia the victory and league title.

Our Keith Lair covered the event:

There likely will be very little friendship when the South Pasadena and Monrovia high school track and field teams meet next time.

That’s because a friendship bracelet decided the Rio Hondo League girls title.

With the pole vault deciding Thursday’s dual meet, Monrovia needed at least a second-place finish to claim its first league title.

South Pasadena’s Rachel Ma and Monrovia’s Samantha Boltz and Gabby McBride all cleared 7-0. South Pasadena’s Robin Laird, the Tigers’ best pole vaulter, passed at the height.

With a crosswind and both teams watching, cheering wildly on makes and groaning on misses, Laird easily cleared 7-6. Monrovia co-coach Mike Knowles pointed out Laird was wearing a friendship bracelet. Any jewelry calls for automatic disqualification. The coaches called CIF-Southern Section officials to confirm the disqualification.

“I hate that,” Knowles said. “I didn’t want to do that. I’ve lost a CIF title because a girl had one diamond earring she forgot to take out in the 4 by 400 relay.”

Laird’s disqualification gave the Wildcats a 65-62 win.

My take: Winning at all costs? I’m not a fan of it, and in this particular case I was not a fan of how Monrovia won the league title. Clearly, Laird won the event in dominating fashion. According to the Sports Illustrated report, South Pasadena coach PJ Hernandez asked Monrovia coach Mike Knowles “you really want it to come down to this?” I know, rules are rules, but c’mon. Really?

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Baseball: Arcadia looks to make history in Pacific League

No team in the Pacific League has ever finished undefeated, and, really, who would have thought it would be this year’s Arcadia (20-3, 12-0) team that would be on the verge of accomplishing such feat? This is no disrespect to the Apaches talent this year, but when you lose a powerful right-hander (Bryce Rutherford) and as many seniors (11) and sluggers (Tim Smoley, David Huntzinger) it’s hard to fathom that that very same team will bounce back and compete as strong as it did. The truth is, the Apaches have done that, and more. Arcadia is generally balanced, but others have filled in big shoes, like Jonathan Larson (.500 BA, 26 RBIs), Garrett Tuck (.436, 28 RBIs) and Haram Park (.397, 17 RBIs, 3 HR). Tuck (6-2, 49 Ks, 2.24 ERA) and KJ Edson (6-1, 49 Ks, 1.11 ERA) have been solid on the mound. Arcadia visits Glendale (3-10, 2-8) on Tuesday and will most likely put its unblemished league record on the line Friday night when it visits rival Crescenta Valley (17-5, 9-2). Arcadia beat Crescenta Valley, 3-1, in the first meeting April 16 at Arcadia. Larson connected on a 1-2 pitch for a two-run triple, giving Tuck all the runs he would need to lead the Apaches in front of a standing-room only crowd. Tuck pitched six innings, stuck out seven and allowed one unearned run on four hits, and it was his sacrifice fly in the third inning that gave Arcadia a 1-0 lead. In that game, Edson picked up his first save of the season when he struck out the first batter he faced. He struck out the third batter and got the last out on a grounder.

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Baseball: PHS’ playoff hopes have all but fallen apart

What began as a promising season has turned into a desperate push to make the playoffs. Pasadena has two games left this season, and all indications point to the Bulldogs beating Hoover on Tuesday and Muir on Friday. That would give Pasadena two wins, but still keep it under .500 in the Pacific League. There are no scores reported against Glendale, Burroughs and Crescenta Valley. If my mind serves me right, Pasadena beat Glendale and lost to Burroughs and CV, bringing the Bulldogs to 12-14 overall and 5-8 in league. If Pasadena wins its two games this week, that puts them at 14-14 overall and 7-7 in league, but should a team that finishes with a sub .500 league record petition for an at-large berth? I’m not a big fan of it. If a team finishes .500 or better, that’s another story. Pasadena’s had many chances. First, the Bulldogs had an incredible come-from-behind win against Burbank in the league opener, trailing 6-0 and then scoring five runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to win, 9-7. Pasadena was 4-1 in league heading into its first meeting against Crescenta Valley and then endured a three-game losing streak. Fast forward to last Friday against Crescenta Valley, the Bulldogs were up 6-4 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but dropped a routine fly ball and lost, 7-6. Pasadena last year finished 15-12-1 and 8-6 in league, good for fifth.

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Baseball: Monrovia all but wins fifth straight RHL crown

Monrovia (18-3, 11-1) has all but secured its fifth straight Rio Hondo League championship. The Wildcats have three games left this season and a two-game lead on Temple City (14-8-1, 10-3), which has all but finished in second-place. The big race is for third-place, pitting South Pasadena (11-11, 6-7), San Marino (11-12, 6-7) and La Caada (11-9, 5-7). Monrovia has back-to-back games on the road, first at La Caada and San Marino on Tuesday. Here’s how the rest of the week looks:

Monrovia at La Caada, 3:30 p.m.

Monrovia at San Marino, 3:30 p.m.
Temple City at South Pasadena, 3:30 p.m.

La Caada at Temple City, 3:30 p.m.
South Pasadena at San Marino, 3:30 p.m.
Blair at Monrovia, 3:30 p.m.

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Football: $100,000+ salary for coaches at top schools?

Amid teachers getting pink slipped and massive spending cuts, some very experienced high school football coaches are enjoying six-figure salaries and plush benefits. With the exception of maybe Bishop Amat or even St. Francis, there are no schools in the San Gabriel Valley that have the resources to comfortably pay for a football coach. But at Chaminade, Ed Croson makes nearly $100,000 to coach football while the scale for a science or math teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years’ experience is $53,953. And over at Crespi High in Encino, teachers are complaining that new football Coach Jon Mack was awarded a salary of well over $100,000 after instructors — including some who make about a third as much — were told there would be a salary freeze for the 2010-11 school year, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Melendez: Mom’s struggles paved the way for dream life

This column originally published Sunday, May 9 in the Star-News on page A3


A brave woman I know courageously left the father of her three kids because of one too many drunken beatings, survived being struck and dragged by a truck and muscled the strength to fight her family’s way out of homelessness.

That’s my Mom, and this sportswriter has a lot to be thankful on this day we honor the great woman standing behind every good man.

Cristina Hernandez, 45, is living proof of the American dream. Born in Puebla, Mexico, Mom came to the U.S. young, alone and in search of a better life.

The odds, however, seemingly were against her.

She had my brother Marco at 15, me at 17 and my sister, Anabel, at 19.

The last memory I have of my biological father is a fight he had with Mom that escalated out of control. Mom had had enough of his abusive ways and wanted out, but he wouldn’t make it an easy exit. He held a knife at my brother’s throat near an alley in the dark streets of Los Angeles, Mom begging and pleading to let him go. He eventually did, and walked away never to be seen or heard from again.

Mom’s struggles had just begun.

Continue reading

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Star-Jibber: It’s time to start thinking Player of the Year in baseball and softball. We’ll do All-Area nominations next week, but for now let’s discuss the area’s top honor.

In softball today, Mayfield travels to Lancaster to play a tough, and I mean very tough, La Reina team ranked No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 Coaches’ Poll. Speaking of Players of the Year, here’s an update on former Flintridge Sacred Heart star and Star-News Player of the Year Jessica Ferri. She hit Harvard’s lone run to tie the first game against Cornell in the best-of-3 Ivy League playoffs for a chance to advance to the NCAA Playoffs. The series is split and the third and deciding game is today at 9:30 a.m. PST. Below are some highlights that include Ferri’s RBI single.

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It’s championship week in track & field and swimming


Baseball and softball regular seasons keep plugging along, but it is championship week in many sports. The Pacific League track and field finals are today at 5 p.m. at Glendale High. The Rio Hondo League swimming and track and field finals are today, with the swimming at 3 p.m. at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center and the track and field meet at 5:30 p.m. at South Pasadena. The Almont League track and field, swimming and tennis finals all are on Friday.

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