Bishop Amat won last weekend’s Bonita Air Assault. Is this the first of many for the Lancers this year, or do we attach nothing to it, being just a passing league tourney?
Here’s the highlight video:
CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
DAVID WASHINGTON/ANGELO MOLLO, Damien
Damien High School boys tennis coach Bill Urquhart had an idea of putting his two best players — seniors David Washington and Angelo Mollo — together on doubles.
It turned out to be a magical pairing. Washington and Mollo enjoyed a monster season, going 40-1, winning the Sierra League title and becoming the only area representatives to advance to the round of 32 at the CIF-Southern Section individual tournament.
For their efforts, Washington and Mollo are Tribune co-Tennis Players of the Year.
“Coach came up with the idea of having us play doubles this year and it worked out really well,” said Washington, who also plays basketball at Damien. “Angelo and myself are not just good tennis players, but we’re also really good friends.
“We get along really well, and I think that showed in a lot of the matches. They didn’t work as well together as he and I did. It worked really well. It took us to CIF and we had a really good season.”
The duo was dominant in the Sierra League. They not only went 30-0 in league play, but only lost three games in any one match once. They went on to win the league tournament before advancing to the round of 32 at the CIF-SS tourney by upsetting top seed Jona Malkin and Emilio Yera, of Beverly Hills.
Their season ended with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Parker Braverman and Darren Nguyen, of Fountain Valley.
“Doubles is all about coming together,” Mollo said. “We were really good friends off court, so there were no personality clashes. We were able to come together better, and it worked better as a team.”
COACH OF THE YEAR:
DAVE HAMEL, DIAMOND BAR
Hamel, who took Diamond Bar to the Division 2 finals in 2007, has been one of the area’s top coaches. This season was one of his best. It included the Brahmas advancing to the Division 2 semifinals and playing the CIF State Southern California Regionals for the first time. Diamond Bar also upset No. 3 seed Beverly Hills in the quarterfinals and pushed Palisades before losing in the first round of the regional tournament.
“The team did a great job,” said Hamel, who is in his 15th season at Diamond Bar. “They worked hard and it paid off in the end. We got a big win over Beverly Hills, which was unexpected. It was a lot of fun, the boys had a great time and we’re looking forward to next year.”
KEVIN VUONG, Rowland
Vuong went 57-2 and won the Hacienda League for the third consecutive season. He also advanced to rounds at the CIF-SS Individual tournament, losing in the third round by tiebreaker. Vuong was Hacienda League Singles MVP after helping Rowland to a 17-1 record and the Hacienda League title.
NEIL TENGBUMROONG, Diamond Bar
Tengbumroong went 52-9 and was runner-up in the Hacienda League tournament. He also advanced two rounds in the CIF-SS tournament and helped Diamond Bar to the CIF-State Southern California Regional tournament for the first time.
QUONG TRAN, Rosemead
Tran was a key piece in Rosemead winning the Mission Valley League and advancing to the CIF-SS Division 5 quarterfinals. Tran was Mission Valley League MVP. He also advanced two rounds at the CIF-SS tournament.
MINSONG HSU/KENNY SAKATA, Diamond Bar
Hsu and Sakata went 52-16 and won the Hacienda League title. They also advanced two rounds at the CIF-SS tournament. The duo were a key piece in Diamond Bar advancing to the Division 2 semifinals and the state tournament.
HANS YU/JEFF ALIDINA, Rowland
The duo went 54-3 and were runner-up in the Hacienda League tournament. They also advanced three rounds at the CIF-SS individual tournament. Yu and Alidina helped Rowland to its second consecutive league title for the first time in school history. The Raiders were 17-1 before losing in the CIF-SS quarterfinals.
Victor Paitimasa, Covina
Noah Brink, Duarte
Adrian Chau, Rowland
Andy Phan/Billy Wen, Wilson
Ryan Chao/Henry Zhou, Arroyo
Kimlong Pham, San Dimas
Ray Donato, Sierra Vista
Tommy Tin, Rosemead
Peter Marquez/Alex Reyes, San Dimas
Daniel Pichardo/Nathan Jaimes, Gladstone
Calvin Ha/Eric Thai, Rosemead
It’s never too early to look ahead, so what a better time during the summer downtime than to look at the opening week of the prep football season. And while most colleges rarely go the marquee route on week one, some area coaches have taken the opposite approach as we will have some intriguing matchups during the first week.
The highlight is likely Monrovia visiting San Dimas, which has been sort of a rivalry in recent years. Some of the luster is likely off now that the two are in different divisions, but it should be a great one. Both lost some talent, but these two simply reload.
Other key games will be Arroyo at San Marino; Steve Bogan’s debut at Maranatha at home vs. Bassett; Bishop Amat vs. Santa Margarita and South Hills renewing its long-time rivalry with South Hills, which is scheduled for Saturday.
The season kicks off on Aug. 28 when Northview hosts Rosemead at San Dimas High School.
Thursday, August 28
Rosemead (CA) vs. Northview (Covina, CA) at San Dimas HS, 7:00pm
Friday, August 29
Alta Loma (CA) at Rowland (Rowland Heights, CA), 7:00pm
Arroyo (El Monte, CA) at San Marino (CA), 7:00pm
Baldwin Park (CA) at El Monte (CA), 7:00pm
Bassett (La Puente, CA) at Maranatha (Pasadena, CA), 7:00pm
Bonita (La Verne, CA) at Schurr (Montebello, CA), 7:00pm
Diamond Bar (CA) at Montebello (CA), 7:00pm
Diamond Ranch (Pomona, CA) at Nogales (La Puente, CA), 7:00pm
Duarte (CA) at Valley Christian (Cerritos, CA), 7:00pm
Gladstone (Covina, CA) at Jurupa Hills (Fontana, CA), 7:00pm
Monrovia (CA) at San Dimas (CA), 7:00pm
Pasadena (CA) at South El Monte (CA), 7:00pm
Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) vs. Bishop Amat (La Puente, CA) at Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, CA), 7:00pm
Santa Monica (CA) at Los Altos (Hacienda Heights, CA), 7:00pm
Sierra Vista (Baldwin Park, CA) at La Puente (CA), 7:00pm
Walnut (CA) at Don Lugo (Chino, CA), 7:00pm
West Covina (CA) at Colony (Ontario, CA), 7:00pm
Wilson (Hacienda Heights, CA) at Workman (City of Industry, CA), 7:00pm
Green Valley (Henderson, NV) at Charter Oak (Covina, CA), 7:00pm
Saturday, August 30
Covina (CA) vs. South Hills (West Covina, CA) at San Dimas HS, 7:00pm
Cal State Fullerton’s Justin Garza, who was 2012 area Baseball Player of the Year from Bonita, was one of 29 college underclassmen invited to the Team USA Training Camp in Cary, N.C.
The final roster will feature 24 players who will part of the team’s summer season, which features the Friendship Series against Chinese Taipei and Japan, as well as trips to Honkbal Week in Haarlem, The Netherlands and a five-game series in Cuba.
Garza, who led Bonita to the 2012 CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title, became the fourth Cal State Fullerton pitcher to throw a no-hitter, tossing a no-no against Cal State Northridge on May 23. He finished the season with a 5-4 record and a 3.22 ERA. He also had 60 strikeouts in 72 innings.
I’ll be getting hitched and on vacation at some far-away-beach over the next two weeks so send all tips and breaking news to email@example.com or his twitter @steverramirez. And keep Stevie honest, it’s his job to update the blog and keep you talking while I’m gone.
Not that I’ve had a lot of time to think about it while trying to keep the future Mrs. Robledo calm in the final stretch and watch World Cup soccer at the same time, but here’s my stab at the Tribune pre-season Top Ten Football Rankings and who else do you think I’d start at No. 1? Uh, duh. In any case, would love to hear your thoughts on a top ten, what teams you expect to do well and what players to watch for this fall. We’re beginning production on our annual PrepXtra Preview football magazine and over the years your input has always helped.
TRIBUNE PRE-SEASON TOP TEN FOOTBALL RANKINGS
1. Bishop Amat — How often do we not start a season with Amat No. 1. It is what it is, area teams don’t beat them, they compete in the Pac-5 and have powerful juniors returning like Tre Sidney and Tyler Vaunghs. But will it make the playoffs? That’s a different story.
2. Glendora — They were 7-3 and return the areas best quarterback in Matt Fink. Let me say that again, the best quarterback. When you throw for nearly 1,500 yards and 12 TDs as a sophomore against the type of schedule the Tartans face, you’re going to be dangerous your next two years. And now that Glendora is in a league and playoff division they can compete in, get out of the way.
3. Charter Oak — Juniors Kamden Brown (quarterback) and Zion Echols (RB/WR) are the future and the Chargers should go back to dominating the Hacienda now that they’re finally out of the Sierra and Inland division. Good for Big Lou, would love to see him dominate and enjoy his final years at the school.
4. South Hills — Like Charter Oak, the Huskies should enjoy the drop from the Sierra to the new Palomares where Bonita and Glendora are likely their toughest competition and back in a playoff division they can compete in. Quarterback Garrett Fonseca should be ready to have a big senior season and coach Albert Rodriguez, or fuzz as they call him, has shown he gets the most out of his players, especially defensively.
5. Damien — Here’s the deal, competing in the Baseline is brutal because they barely hung in the Sierra. If anyone can handle the move it’s probably coach Mark Paredes but you can’t do anything without players and there hasn’t been an off-season buzz about players transferring to give you an idea they can compete at this level. But hey, in our little fishpond, they’re top five no doubt about it.
6. San Dimas — Can we just pencil in a back-to-back Mid-Valley title already? I don’t know if the Saints are legitimately better than the others ranked below, but they’ll dominate the Valle Vista and be favored to win a division that Monrovia is no longer part of. Look, coach Bill Zernickow is a master, he’s already proved it, it’s plug-and-place at San Dimas so get ready for another 14-week season.
7. Diamond Bar — The Snoop Dogg show is gone and so is coach Ryan Maine but they’ve got Antonio Noodles Hull and quarterback Tyler Peterson returning for their senior years and a new coach who’s been a winner everywhere he’s gone. I’m telling you now, don’t sleep on the purple.
8. West Covina — It’s felt like forever since the Bulldogs won back-to-back championships and were dominating everyone not named Bishop Amat or Charter Oak but something tells me coach Mike Maggiore will have the boys ready for the new Hacienda and its renewed rivalry with Charter Oak.
9. Bonita — The Bearcats lose a bunch but they have a bunch returning. This is a program that is solid year-after-year and has a lot of players in the program. It’s probably time for them to get their act together again.
10. Diamond Ranch — This is a pure guess because Roddy Layton is no longer coaching and a new coach hasn’t been named yet. But everyone knows there are talented football players at the Ranch and to have a top ten without them in it would be silly.
2014 ALL-AREA TRACK AND FIELD
ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
THADDEUS SMITH, DAMIEN, JUNIOR; KAYLA RICHARDSON, WALNUT, SOPHOMORE
Consistency is usually the key to success in athletes, and it proved to be the key ingredient for Damien’s Thaddeus Smith and Walnut’s Kayla Richardson, who proved to be the area’s best.
For their efforts, Smith and Richardson are the Tribune Boys and Girls Track Athletes of the Year.
Smith, a junior, was the area’s top sprinter. He placed in Division 3 in the 100 and 200 at the CIF-Southern Sectoin finals and qualified for the CIF-SS Masters in the 200. At the divisional meet, he was sixth with a time of 10.77 seconds before taking third in the 200 at 21.36. At the Masters Meet, he was ninth at 21.94.
“Overall, I was pretty happy about the season,” Smith said. “My goal was to make it to Masters, so I did that. I broke the school record for the 200, so it was a pretty successful season. I wanted to make it to state, but it didn’t happen. I’ll just have to try next year.”
Richardson, a sophomore, was also the area’s top sprinter, placing in Division 1 in the 100 and part of Walnut’s 4×100 relay team, which was the area’s only representative at the CIF State championships near Fresno.
Richardson was ninth in the 100 in Division 1 at CIF-SS finals with a time of 12.35, which was best in the area. She helped Walnut to a fourth-place finish in the 4×100 with a time of 46.83. The Mustangs were sixth at Masters with a time of 47.01. They were sixth in their heat at the state championships and didn’t advance to the event final.
She also scored four first-place medals at the Hacienda League finals, winning the 100 and 200 and helping the 400 and 1,600 relay teams to wins.
“I wasn’t really satisfied with my year,” Richardson said. “I didn’t drop my time as much as I wanted to. But I was glad I was able to experience the state meet and would like to be back there next year.”
When you think of the best sports principals in the San Gabriel Valley, South Hills’ Judy North use to come to mind. The Huskies had one of the best and longest tenured athletic coaching staffs in the Valley and there was a lot of on-field success during her tenure, but a lot has changed since her retirement a few years back. Since then, practically all the long-time coaches resigned or are no longer there due to other circumstances, including football coach Steve Bogan, baseball coach Kevin Smith, boys basketball coach Paul Reed, girls volleyball coach Charm Doyle, softball coach Scott Fisch, wrestling coach Rob Froh and some I may have missed, it’s hard to keep track. Just recently, Paul Reed, the boys athletic director and Kathy Reed, the girls athletic director, either resigned or were let go as the school’s athletic directors. When there is this much turnover in such a short period of time, you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes? While you’re busy mulling that, here’s another question, is South Hills athletics better or worse since North retired? With the quick and swift changing of the guard it may take a few years to know for sure whether South Hills athletics is taking a step forward or back, but from a coaching standpoint, there’s a new regime for sure.
Thursday update: A day after Al Leyva was fired at Damien, Mt. SAC and former South Hills coach Kevin Smith added Leyva to his staff at Mt. SAC as an assistant ….. The speculation that former Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto could take over at Damien just multiplied following today’s news that, Long Beach State Baseball Hall of Famer, Don Barbara, has been hired as the new head coach at St. John Bosco. Nieto was finalist for St. John Bosco, but who knows, maybe he pulled out of the running now that Damien position is available. Stay tuned.
Wednesday’s Breaking News: Damien athletic director Jeff Grant said the school has parted ways with baseball coach Al Leyva and that an immediate search for a new coach has started. Damien will accept applications through June 27.
Leyva was 107-61 in six seasons at Damien, but never won a league championship. His best year was his first in 2009 when Damien finished 21-9 and advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals. Damien was 17-10 this past season, finished in a tie for third in the Sierra League and was ousted in the first round of the playoffs.
“There wasn’t a single incident or something that led to this,” Grant said. “It’s a combination of small things and at the end of the day we wanted to move in a different direction.”
That different direction could be former Bishop Amat baseball coach Andy Nieto, who resigned at Bishop Amat last week after winning his fourth championship in eight years. Nieto has a close relationship with Damien principal Dr. Merritt Hemenway, who was previously the principal at Bishop Amat and who hired Nieto to take over the Amat baseball program.
Nieto has been rumored to be interested in St. John Bosco, but with Damien becoming available it could change things.
Grant admitted that Nieto and Hemenway are close, and Nieto always has said he has a lot of respect and admiration for his former principal.
“We’re opening the job for any and all applicants,” Grant said. “Obviously coach Nieto is no longer employed and he’s more than welcome to apply. But this is not a situation where the jobs already been promised to anyone.”
By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
You can add Los Altos High School to list of area schools looking for a baseball coach.
Andrew Formano, the Conquerors coach since 2007, resigned Wednesday, citing burn out from the year-long grind of coaching.
He’s the third area coach to leave his position in the past few weeks. Andy Nieto resigned at Bishop Amat last week, and Damien’s Al Leyva was fired earlier this week.
“It’s a little of a burnout, so I felt it was time to take some time off from coaching,” Formano said. “I’d like to focus on my family and some other things. That’s the major reason why.”
Formano built Los Altos into an area top 10 team. He was 121-93-1 in his eight seasons at the Hacienda Heights school. The Conquerors made the CIF-Southern Section playoffs in six out of his eight seasons. They advanced to the quarterfinals in 2009 and 2012.
Los Altos was 13-15 this season.
During his tenure, several Los Altos players advanced to the next level. They include Joe Munoz, who is now playing Single-A for the Arizona Diamondbacks; James Mendez (Cal State Los Angeles); Steven Camberos (Hawaii Pacific); Ronnie Blagg (Valley City State, North Dakota) and Evelio Ahumada (William Penn, Iowa).
“I’m proud of what we accomplished,” Formano said. “We competed every year in our league, and unfortunately we had Bonita ahead of us. But most of those years we had some really good teams during my time.
“We always competed. That’s the legacy I wanted to leave behind. We made a couple of nice runs. We had kids make it to the next level. Munoz is doing well, so I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
TRIBUNE SWIMMING ALL-AREA
SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
DEREK KAO, WALNUT, SR.
Walnut has had a strong swimming tradition and Kao added to it with a solid effort at the Division 2 championships in Riverside.
He had one of the divisions best-ever efforts, scoring the 100 breaststroke title with a meet-record time of 54.91 seconds. The senior also finished third in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:52.65. He helped the Mustangs’ 200 medley relay team to a third-place finish with a time of 1:35.07.
“Going into the race, I thought, just rely on my training,” Kao said. “I had to focus on what I had to do and just go for it.”
ALEXIS MARGETT, GLENDORA, FRESHMAN
Margett had the top performance by area swimmer at the Division 2 championships in Riverside.
She was the lone area competitor to score a title, winning the 100 butterfly with a time of 54.52. The freshman also helped the Tartans to wins in the 200 medley (1:47.63) and 400 (3:32.12) freestyle relays, keying the Division 2 title. Margett also finished 10th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:07.18.
“I feel really accomplished,” Margett said after winning her event. “I feel like I applied the right technique to get that time, so it’s great.”
By Fred J. Robledo
Walnut boys basketball coach Josh Cameron resigned on Wednesday to become the assistant principal at Norco High School.
Cameron coached eight years at Walnut and turned it into one of the premier programs in the San Gabriel Valley, earning area coach of the year honors this past season after leading the Mustangs to an undefeated Hacienda League title.
The Mustangs finished 22-6, setting a school record for victories in a season and also a school-record 14-game undefeated streak.
Cameron took over a team that had just won four games prior to his arrival in 2006 and turned it around, advancing to the playoffs for six straight years, reaching the CIF-SS divisional quarterfinals once and the second round four times.
Cameron finishes with an overall record of 128-90 at Walnut. He was 21-31 in his first two years, but finished 107-59 in his last six seasons.
“The opportunity at Norco came up and I went for it, it’s a great job,” Cameron said. “It’s a little bittersweet leaving Walnut because of the program we built up. It’s a great place to coach because of the players and administration.”
Cameron’s leaving the program on a high note and with a young team that’s built to continue what he started.
“That’s what’s great about it, the program is at one of the highest points it’s been in a long time,” Cameron said. “I’m certainly not leaving the cupboard empty. I wouldn’t of left Walnut for any other coaching position, but with a chance to become an assistant principal, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
By Fred Robledo
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Janell Wheaton, San Dimas, Sr.
San Dimas coach Don Pollard remembers when Janell Wheaton was a freshman and wondering if all that talent would blossom.
“There are some players that come in as a freshman and you say to yourself, ‘she’s going to be great as a senior,’ and then they never really live up to the hype.”
That wasn’t Wheaton.
“Not only did she live up to everything, she exceeded it,” Pollard said. “I’m not just talking about her talent, but her softball IQ, how she plays under pressure and the work she does in the classroom. She’s the most complete package I’ve ever been around.”
Wheaton, who signed a national letter of intent to play at National champion Florida, has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune player of the year.
“She’s everything she’s advertised to be,” said San Dimas coach Don Pollard. “She deserves all the accolades she’s getting.”
Wheaton did it all at San Dimas, winning four straight Valle Vista league titles and earning three straight league most valuable player of the year awards.
Wheaton was named to the all-area first-team a year ago, then set her sights even higher.
“The girl who was chosen for player of the year last year (Bishop Amat’s Lexi Gonzalez) went to Oregon State,” Wheaton said. “I said to myself, ‘that’s my goal, to have a good season, to win league again and get player of the year and go off on a good note.’ I’m pretty happy with my career at San Dimas.”
The catcher’s senior season numbers were off the charts. She led the area in average, RBIs and hits, batting .617 with 44 RBIs and 58 hits. She also had five home runs and likely would have finished with double-digit homers if San Dimas had a fence.
“That’s true, she would have had seven to ten more with a fence,” Pollard said. “Everyone played her back and she still hit bombs over their heads that would have been gone at any other park.
“She made adjustments at the plate and hit a lot of line drives. She finished with a lot of extra base hits (10 doubles and six triples).
Wheaton also led San Dimas to the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals, and for all her offensive prowess, she was an equal force defensively behind home plate.
“Nobody stole on her and anyone that tried found out quickly it wasn’t going to work.” Pollard said. “I can’t remember the last time she let a ball get past her that wasn’t a wild pitch, she has that kind of skillset.
“The other thing is, she calls her own game. She’s been calling her own game the last three years because she’s got that IQ and understands pitchers and hitters very well.”
Wheaton will either play first base or catcher at Florida.
“They have some established players ahead of her, but they’ll find a place for her,” Pollard said. “I have no doubt she’ll go on to do great things at Florida and whatever else she chooses to do in life.”
COACH OF THE YEAR: Nacho Hernandez, Los Altos
No team improved more over the course of the season than Los Altos, a young group that was beaten soundly early in the year, losing three of their first five games, and getting hammered in two of them. But the Conquerors stayed the course under their fourth year coach, who needed wins over Bonita and West Covina in the second half of Hacienda League play to earn a co-league title with Bonita, giving Hernandez his second league championship.
The Conquerors finished league with a dramatic come-from-behind 4-3 victory over West Covina, then shocked South Hills 1-0 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs. The Conquerors won 10 of their final 12 games to finish 16-7, and for their efforts, Hernandez has been selected the Tribune 2014 softball coach of the year.
NATALIE LUGO, South Hills, Freshman, Pitcher
The only freshman on the all-area first-team was arguably the area’s best pitcher and is already verbally committed to NCAA champion Florida. She earned Sierra League first-team honors, finishing 16-6 with a 0.98 ERA with 197 strikeouts in 150 innings. She also helped the Huskies reach the Division 2 playoffs.
CELESTE WOOD, Los Altos, Junior, Pitcher
She hit and pitched her way to the Hacienda League MVP after helping the Conquerors finish in a tie for the league title, then pitched a gem in a 1-0 victory over South Hills in the first-round of the Division 2 playoffs. Wood, who is committed to Michigan State, was 13-2 with a 2.38 ERA and just as dangerous at the plate, batting .536 with five home runs and 19 RBIs.
JENNA RODELO, Rowland, Sophomore, Catcher
Was the lone bright spot on a Raiders team that won one game all season. She earned Hacienda league first-team honors for her terrific season defensively and at the plate, where she was among the leaders in every offensive category. She batted .533 with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs. She was pitched around so many times, she did it all with only 60 at-bats.
MADELAINE TICKEY, West Covina, Junior, Utility
Tickey quickly proved herself after transferring from Duarte, turning into one of the areas best all-around players in the circle and the plate. She earned Hacienda league first-team honors after helping the Bulldogs reach the playoffs. She batted .394 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. In the circle she was 12-5 with a 2.33 ERA.
AMANDA SANCHEZ, Bishop Amat, Senior, Infielder
The Del Rey league first-team third baseman earns her second-straight all-area first-team selection. On her way to the University of Missouri, she helped the Lancers reach the second round of the Division 3 playoffs and was one of the areas most feared hitters. She batted .442 with six home runs, eight doubles and 24 RBIs in a tough league that produced divisional champion St. Paul.
ASHLEY DIAZ, South El Monte, Junior, Infielder
She earned the Mission Valley most valuable player award for the second straight season after helping the Eagles to a co-league title with Arroyo and has verbally committed to the University of Arkansas. The shortstop produced sensation offensive numbers and was among the area leaders in the triple crown category, batting. 542 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. She also had 11 doubles.
MONET MANNING, Northview, sophomore, Infielder
The sophomore shortstop had a breakout season for the Vikings to earn Valle Vista league first-team honors. She hit for power and average, batting .509 with eight home runs, 29 RBIs and seven doubles. She belted two home runs in a game twice, and only struck out twice the entire season.
ALICIA BROWN, Glendora, Senior, Infielder
The Tartans’ team struggled in the Baseline league, but Brown was one of the league’s best, earning first-team honors. She helped the Tartans to the San Dimas tournament title and batted .354 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs. The third baseman will continue her softball career at Loyola Marymount University.
CHLOE MELANSON, Bonita, Junior, Outfielder
The speedy right fielder earned Hacienda league first-team honors and is verbally committed to the University of Miami in Ohio. She helped the Bearcats share the Hacienda league title by hitting for average, power and was a threat on the bases. She batted. 522 with 12 home runs, six doubles and 20 RBIs.
ALYSSA BARRERA, Bishop Amat, Junior, Outfielder
The Del Rey league first-team selection led the Lancers in average and was tied for the team lead in runs scored. She batted an impressive .494 with a .553 on base percentage. She finished with 40 hits while also belting two home runs to go with three doubles, three triples, 12 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
BROOKE CLEMETSON, Charter Oak, Senior, Outfielder/Pitcher
The Sierra League first-team selection pitched, played outfield and is one of the areas best all-around players headed to Cal State Fullerton. She batted .423 with four doubles and nine RBIs but was most important to her team in the circle, finishing 12-3 with a 1.15 ERA with 73 strikeouts.
Pitcher: Kaelyn McFadden, Bonita, Senior
Pitcher: Princess Nava, Covina, Junior
Pitcher: Kaile Chavez, Charter Oak, Junior
Catcher: Melysia Ortega, South Hills, Sophomore
Utility: Ana Mejia, Northview, Senior
Infielder: Evelyn Sandoval, El Monte, Sophomore
Infielder: Jennifer Aguinaga, San Dimas, Senior
Infielder: Isabella Sierra, Covina, Sophomore
Infielder: Anissa Sanchez, Bishop Amat, Senior
Outfielder: Jocelyn Marquez, Northview, Senior
Outfielder: Alexis Gonzalez, West Covina, Senior
Outfielder: Sierra Hensel, Charter Oak, Senior
FINAL TOP TEN
1. Charter Oak (19-8)
2. Bishop Amat (18-10)
3. San Dimas (22-8)
4. Los Altos (16-7)
5. South Hills (21-8)
6. Bonita (17-7)
7. West Covina (16-12)
8. Arroyo (19-5)
9. Covina (16-8-1)
10. Sierra Vista (17-5-2)
SGV TRIBUNE ALL-AREA PHOTO GALLERY
By Stephen Ramirez
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Scott Hurst, Bishop Amat, Sr.
Bishop Amat High School features arguably the richest baseball tradition in the area.
It includes winning nine CIF-Southern Section divisional titles and a good list of former players who went on to play Major League Baseball, including recently retired Michael Young, of the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies and the Dodgers, and pitcher Dan Haren, who is on the Dodgers’ starting staff this season.
But of the Lancers nine CIF-SS titles, this season’s road to championship glory was the most unexpected. It included a four-game losing streak to end the season and was capped by three come-from-behind wins, including a 4-3 victory over top-seeded Palm Desert in the Division 3 title game.
A key component for the Lancers’ run to the title was senior outfielder/pitcher Scott Hurst, who was one of the area’s better offensive players and arguably the top closer. But it was his role as a leader that turned the tide for Bishop Amat.
“The season was a roller coaster,” Hurst said. “A lot our guys got down on themselves and us five seniors just tried to keep the team motivated. It brought us all the way to Dodger Stadium and we wound up (winning). It was a heckuva season, one I’ll never forget.”
For his efforts, Hurst, who will play at traditional power Cal State Fullerton next season, is Tribune Baseball Player of the Year.
Bishop Amat, which opened the season with four losses, appeared dead in the water a little more than a month ago after losing back-to-back games to rival St. Paul. But the Lancers, helped by Hurst’s leadership, strung together 10 wins to close the season. They capped the run with three come-back victories, including a 4-3 win over top seed Palm Desert to win the Division 3 title.
It was Bishop Amat’s ninth division title, and its fourth since 2007.
Hurst keyed surge, ranking among area leaders with a .419 batting average, with 25 RBIs and 15 extra-base hits, including six triples. He finished off the final three victories with saves in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. In three innings, he retired nine of 10 batters, givng up just a walk while striking out five. He finished the season with 19 strikeouts in 11 innings.
“I was just trying to pound the zone all year,” Hurst said. “It was my first year closing. I was trying to get the hang of it all year. It wound up working out well for our team.”
Now Hurst begins the next state of his baseball career, signing with Cal State Fullerton.
“I feel real confident going to Fullerton, which is another great program,” Hust said. “I still have some things to work on, but I think I’ll fit right in.”
COACH OF THE YEAR: Andy Nieto, Bishop Amat
Andy Nieto, in eight seasons, has arguably become the area’s top coach. He’s won four divisional titles while also scoring some marquee wins titles. But this might be his best effort. The Lancers lost their first four games and looked in danger of missing the playoffs after a lost week against rival St. Paul. But Nieto was able to keep the team motivated and eventually the Lancers caught fire and finished the season with a 10-game win streak, including ending the season with three come-back victories to win the school’s ninth division title.
For his efforts, Nieto is Tribune Coach of the Year.
“Our guys(were) extremely resilient,” Nieto said. “They never quit. We had a lot of doubters. But those doubters learned an important life lesson — never doubt the spirit of the team. I’m proud of our guys. They deserved everything they’ve received and they deserve to be (champions).”
GAVIN VELASQUEZ, South Hills, Junior, Pitcher
Not a lot was expected from Velasquez to begin the season, but he turned out to be a hidden gem for South Hills. He was 10-1-1 with a school-record 0.67 ERA. He had five shutouts and gave up just one earned run during his first 29 innings. He also had 75 strikeouts in 83 innings. He was first team All-Sierra League.
ALEX GARCIA, Bishop Amat, Senior, Pitcher
Garcia was the money pitcher for the Lancers, and a key factor in Amat rallying to win the school’s ninth CIF-SS title. He was 8-3 with a 2.72 ERA. The senior also had 105 strikeouts in 76 innings.
KALE MORTON, Glendora, Senior, Pitcher
Morton finished his career on the same level of past Tartan pitchers, including Wes Roemer and Adam Plutko. His 11-0 record was the best in school history. He also had a 1.58 ERA, while striking out 76 in 71 innings. The senior also hit .383 with nine RBIs as a designated hitter. He was Baseline League MVP.
DAVID BANUELOS, Damien, Senior, Catcher
Banuelos was an offensive machine for the Spartans. He hit .395 to rank among the area leaders. Ha also had 24 RBIs and had four home runs. The senior, who was first team All-Sierra League, was also solid defensively.
DANIEL MILLWEE, San Dimas, Senior, Utility
Millwee was a key contributor for the Saints, who advanced to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. The senior, who was San Dimas’ lead-off hitter, hit .330 and ranked among the area leaders with 30 runs scored. He also had 13 RBIs and had eight extra-base hits. He was first team All-Valle Vista League.
PETER LAMBERT, San Dimas, Junior, Infielder
Lambert keyed San Dimas to its second consecutive CIF-SS quarterfinal appearance. He was Valle Vista League MVP, going 11-1 with a 0.55 ERA. He also had 95 strikeouts in 76 innings. On offense, he hit .351 with 23 RBIs. Lambert also tossed a 1-hitter, flirting with a perfect game, in the playoffs.
ALEX GONZALEZ, Bonita, Junior, Infielder
Gonzalez keyed the Bearcats to another Hacienda League title. He ranked among area leaders with a .389 batting average and 28 RBIs. The junior was also one of the top defensive second basemen’s in the area. He was first team All-Hacienda League.
GRANT HOCKIN, Damien, Senior, Infielder
Hockin, the grandson of Pro Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, was Damien’s ace in the hole. He was one of the top pitchers in the area, going 9-3 with a 1.49 ERA. At the plate, he hit .379 with 15 RBIs and two home runs. The senior was co-Sierra League MVP. He was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Indians. He signed with Cleveland, forgoing to play at UCLA.
ERIC GUTIERREZ, Sierra Vista, Senior, Infielder
Gutierrez played a major role in the Dons enjoying one of the better seasons in school history, which included their first appearance in the CIF-SS quarterfinals in 20 years. He was 9-1 with a 1.22 ERA. He also hit .466 with 18 RBIs. Gutierrez was Montview League MVP.
DJ PETERS, Glendora, Senior, Outfielder
Peters was Glendora’s offensive leader and a key factor in the Tartans winning the Baseline League title. He hit .359 with 20 RBIs. He also had four home runs and 11 doubles. Peters, who will play at traditional power Cal State Fullerton next season, was first team All-Baseline League.
ALEX LABOR, Northview, Senior, Outfielder
Labor played a major role in the Vikings advancing to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the second consecutive season, including upsetting Division 4 top seed Kaiser in the second round. He ranked among area leaders, hitting .543. Labor was All-Valle Vista.
ELIAS ORONA, San Dimas, Senior, Outfielder
Orona was one of the top center fielders in the area. He was solid on offense, ranking among area leaders with a .344 average. He also had 20 RBIs. The senior played a big role in San Dimas advancing to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. He was All-Valle Vista League.
P: Nick Johnson, Bonita, So.
P: Isaac Archer, Bishop Amat, Jr.
P: Anthony Deeter, West Covina, Sr.
UT: Gerardo Ramirez, Diamond Bar, Jr.
C: Justin Cage, Glendora, Sr.
C: Kory Brown, Charter Oak, Sr.
INF: Michael Palos, Bishop Amat, Sr.
INF: Derek Martin, Arroyo, Sr.
INF: Jon Ayala, South Hills, Sr.
INF: Ryan Viramontes, West Covina, Sr.
OF: Jonathan Longtin, San Dimas, Jr.
OF: Justin Gomez, Bonita, Jr.
OF: Anthony Cuevas, Los Altos, Jr.
Glendora: Eric Flores, Sr., Inf/P
Bishop Amat: Adryan Ramirez, So. INF; Christian Moya, So. OF
Bonita: Joe Quire, Sr., INF; Ethan Muro, Sr. INF
Diamond Bar: Josh Sanchez, Sr. C
Walnut: Brennan McKenzie, So. INF
Sierra Vista: Christian Novelo, Sr. C
Damien: Jordan Abernathy, Sr. OF
San Dimas: Michael Starns, Sr. OF/P
FINAL TOP 10
1. Bishop Amat (21-11)
2. Glendora (21-7)
3. South Hills (21-6-1)
4. San Dimas (23-7-1)
5. Bonita (23-8)
6. Northview (18-12)
7. Diamond Bar (19-11)
8. Sierra Vista (22-4)
9. Walnut (15-13-2)
10. Arroyo (14-8)
Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with what allegedly has gone on behind the scenes over the past few weeks in regards to Bishop Amat baseball and coach Andy Nieto. If you think Nieto resigning Thursday after winning his fourth championship at the school was a surprise, you haven’t been reading our blog. First, the big news. A day after Nieto resigned, sophomores Anthony Walters and Christian Moya, two huge pieces to their championship team, left the school according to sources. Moya is reportedly transferring to South Hills. Back to Nieto and Amat baseball. I don’t normally pay close attention to comment speculation and predictions, except in this case, what has been rumored for weeks came to fruition, and what’s been rumored to follow is curiously taking shape. On the same day Nieto resigned, Bishop Amat principal Richard Beck confirmed that El Rancho junior varsity coach Gabe Lopez was at the school droping off his resume and inquiring about the opening that just became vacant a few hours earlier. For the record, Beck said Thursday the position wouldn’t be floated until today, would close on June 20 with a decision hopefully by June 30. It’s also interesting that two days before Nieto resigned, a well-placed source in Whittier told me that Lopez already was set to take over once Nieto made it official. Beck said that isn’t true. “Anyone that applies will have just as good a shot as the next one. There are others who have applied already as well. There isn’t one person we have in mind.” Beck said. However, if Lopez gets the job, folks are going to wonder if this was a backroom deal all along, and if new applicants ever had a chance. Although Nieto understandably denied it, sources have been emailing and calling me the past month suggesting he was ready to leave Amat, and that he would wind up at St. John Bosco. Sources have confirmed Nieto already has had cursory conversations with Bosco about its opening. There are also rumors Nieto could wind up at Damien, but there is one problem with that, Al Leyva is still the coach there. Want more fun speculation, Nogales’ John Romano, who just retired after more than 30 years at the school and more than 600 victories, said he is absolutely interested in Amat’s opening and will also be leaving his resume. Also, for those wondering if Bishop Amat softball coach Kristen Dedmon was returning after her first year, the answer is yes, she’ll be back. In football news, Aram Tolegian posted this on his In the Huddle Blog...
QB Steven Nava leaves Rosemead for Bishop Amat. http://t.co/d6ZrLWG4Sg
— Aram Tolegian (@aramtolegian) June 13, 2014
Bishop Amat’s next quarterback also could be junior-to-be Ryder Ruiz, the brother of Amat Hall of Famer Rio Ruiz
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
LA PUENTE — Bishop Amat baseball coach Andy Nieto, one of the winningest baseball coaches in Southern California over the last decade, announced Thursday he is resigning less than a week after earning his fourth championship in eight years at the school.
Bishop Amat started the season with four losses and was on the verge of not making the playoffs, but ended with ten straight victories culminating with last week’s stunning come-from-behind 4-3 victory over top-seed Palm Desert for the CIF-SS Division 3 title at Dodger Stadium.
Who will be the next baseball coach at Bishop Amat following Andy Nieto's resignation today?
— Fred J. Robledo (@SGVNSports) June 12, 2014
There was speculation for weeks that Nieto was considering leaving, and Thursday he told his team he was resigning both as coach and teacher at the school to pursue other opportunities.
“For me, I’m always seeking new challenges and new experiences,” Nieto said. “After a lot of thinking for me personally and my family, there couldn’t be a better time in terms of the timing.
“Things are at a very high level in where the program is and how I’m leaving it, and I wish everyone at Amat all the success in the future.
“In terms of what’s next for me, God willing, everything will work out.”
Whether Nieto is eyeing openings at St. John Bosco or Servite, which both compete in the tough Trinity league or a return to college remains to be seen.
“There are things out there, but for me nothing is concrete and nothing is on the table,” Nieto said.
Nieto was asked a few times during the playoffs if he was considering leaving, but said on multiple occasions he had no intention of resigning, repeating it again soon after the championship, but also noting that he never says never.