Baseball Rankings: Glendora, Charter Oak, San Dimas take over top spots


Tribune Top Ten Baseball Rankings
1. Glendora (19-4) – After sweeping South Hills, meet your new No. 1.
2. Charter Oak (13-3) – Winners of five straight and 9-1 in Hacienda.
3. San Dimas (16-4) – On a roll with 13 straight wins.
4. South Hills (16-6) – Trending wrong way with three straight losses.
5. Nogales (18-2) – Forfeit drops it into Montview tie with Sierra Vista.
6. Bishop Amat (14-8) — National Classic champs went 0-4 at Boras.
7. Bonita (12-8) – Consistency continues to be a problem.
8. Sierra Vista (12-4) – Half game behind Nogales in the Montview.
9. Walnut (15-7) — Big sweep over rival Los Altos.
10. West Covina (13-9) – Kevin Smith can still coach.



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Softball Rankings: St. Lucy’s No. 1, but Charter Oak, Los Altos gaining steam


Tribune Softball Rankings
1. St. Lucy’s (12-5) – Spring break is over, back to the Baseline.
2. Charter Oak (16-4) – At Los Altos for first in Hacienda on Tuesday.
3. Los Altos (16-6) – Can argue it deserves top spot.
4. South El Monte (16-2) – Continues to score a lot of runs.
5. Glendora (15-7) – Has allowed fewest runs in Palomares.
6. South Hills (13-10) – In three-way battle for Palomares.
7. Bishop Amat (10-9-1) – For all its struggles, still first in Del Rey.
8. Bonita (13-9) — Won three straight to share Palomares lead.
9. San Dimas (11-9) – Still the best in Valle Vista.
10. Arroyo (10-6-1) – Tied for second in Mission Valley.

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Players set for Friday’s 14th annual Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic at Damien

14th Annual Tribune/Star-News All-Star Basketball Classic
At Damien High School
Girls Game: 5:30 p.m.
Boys Game: 7:30 p.m.

By Aram Tolegian
One practice is all it took for Jason Villanueva to know he likes what he’s got. Villanueva will coach the Tribune boys all-star team in Friday night’s Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic for high school basketball seniors and his biggest problem may be finding the right amount of playing time for his loaded roster.
Tip off is 7:30 p.m. at Damien High. The girls all-star game is at 5:30 p.m., also at Damien.
“Collectively, this is the best talent that I’ve been around,” said Villanueva of Rowland High. “The Tribune team was able to bring in guys who have strengths that support each other. It’s kind of like pick your poison. We have athletes who can create and take it to the rim, and we have guys who can knock it down from the outside.”
The Tribune leads the all-time series 7-6. It will try to add to that margin behind Damien standout Justin Hemsley and Bonita guard Joe Quintana. There’s a deep roster of talent after them, of which any number of players could steal the show.
The Star-News team is coached by Pasadena’s Tony Brooks, who has made it clear he wants his team to play for the win in addition to having their prep careers honored. To do so, Brooks will likely turn to a guard-heavy roster led by St. Francis’ Joey Walsh, Maranatha’s Sean Espinosa and the Blair duo of Jake Dakan and Caleb Smith.
There will a 3-point shooting contest at halftime of both games. The Tribune boys contestants are Quintana, Jamie Strong (Glendora) and Malik Corey (Diamond Bar). The Star-News shooters are Espinosa, Walsh and Smith.
The girls game figures to be a clash of styles. The Tribune team will have a decided size advantage, but the Star-News is a guard-heavy free-running group that figures to try and force a very fast pace.
Some of the guards Herrera will rely on are South Pasadena’s Juliana Tom, Keppel’s Alyssa Lee and Flintridge Prep’s Taylor Yoshida. The Star-News leads the all-time series 7-6.
“We’re going to be small, but we’re going to be very fast,” said Herrera, who is the head coach at Keppel. “I’m used to coaching fast teams, so I told them let’s make this game exciting. We’re going to be all over the place and try to make it into a track meet.”
The Tribune figures to have plenty of options of its own, led by Rowland standout Tianna Eaton and sharpshooter Jezteni Espinoza. The Tribune girls will be coached by Glendora’s Adam Nunemaker.
The Tribune team’s contestants for the 3-point shooting contest are Espinoza, Walnut’s Jenna Pitpit, and Juliana Gamboa of Diamond Bar.

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Take your pick? Bishop Amat’s Jayson Gonzalez and South Hills’ Jacob Amaya are superstar shortstops

By Aram Tolegian
When they were younger, their youth baseball coaches had to alternate their playing time at shortstop in order to accommodate two talents bigger than the diamond they played on. One game it would be Jacob Amaya at shortstop with Jayson Gonzalez at third base. The next game, it would be the other way around.
These days, both Gonzalez who plays at Bishop Amat High School, and Amaya, who plays at South Hills, have their own opportunity to shine and are doing just that. Two shortstops, the same age, from the same city, doing big things on their respective big stages.
To watch them play is to immediately know that even in a Valley that annually produces some of Southern California’s top talent, it’s rare to see two players at such a difficult position be this good. But it’s something that many Valley baseball observers saw coming for years.
“Those days were fun,” Amaya said while reminiscing about playing with Gonzalez as a kid. “I obviously had a clue, playing with him, that we would both be something. It was always a competition between me and him to see who was better.”
Exactly who is better? You’d be splitting hairs to figure that out. Amaya is a slick fielding shortstop who brings plenty of pop to the table with his bat. Gonzalez can also wield a nasty glove and a powerful stick. Both have scouts drooling about their future’s.
But for now, both standouts are concentrating on helping their teams negotiate two respectively difficult schedules and soon the Division 1 playoffs. South Hills has stamped itself as one of the best teams in the country with its 16-3 record against top-shelf competition. Bishop Amat has come on as of late, winning the National Classic last week and holding a 14-5 record.
There’s potential the two both teams could meet in the playoffs, and that’s something both players and lots of fans have in the back of their minds.
“Our team has always wanted to play them,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve thought about it. The team’s thought about it. We just feel like it would be a great game. South Hills has a great team, this year and last year.”
Amaya also has a potential match up with Amat in the back of his mind.
“When I saw that they won the (National) Classic, obviously it showed they’re doing good and we’re doing good,” Amaya said. “Hopefully, we can meet up in the playoffs and have a good competition.”
Both Amaya and Gonzalez have hit three home runs this season. Amaya is batting .375 while Gonzalez is at .333. When asked, both players had a hard time deciphering which part of their game — hitting or defense — is better. They each take immense pride in both.
“The best part of my game I would probably say is my hitting,” Gonzalez said. “I work hard on my hitting. I go to hit with my dad seven days a week. I’m in there an hour and a half to two hours, fixing little things that have been off. I feel like hitting is the biggest part of my game.”
Added Amaya: “My defense is pretty strong. I know how to play shortstop pretty well. I have good footwork, so I can get to my right pretty good. I can get to slow-rollers.”
Covina has produced several of the top players in Valley history and looks like it will do so again. Amaya is a Cal State Fullerton commit while Gonzalez has picked Vanderbilt. Most projections have both players going somewhere in the first few rounds of the upcoming MLB Draft.
Although Amaya and Gonzalez both stressed how important the priority of a college education is to them, both also said they’d be willing to forego those plans to play professionally if the circumstances are right.
Just like the smaller stage of the Charter Oak Stars diamonds, both players have found a way to share the Valley spotlight while also putting on full display the exploits that make the future so bright.

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After a long wait, Los Altos almost ready to announce it next football coach


By Aram Tolegian
The long wait for the Los Altos High School football team to get its new head coach appears almost over.
Conquerors athletic director Andrew Formano said Tuesday the school has its man, but is just waiting for him to get cleared through human resources. The announcement could come any day.
“We’re waiting on his finger prints to clear, which should be any day now, and once that happens, we’ll announce to the kids and parents and be ready to move forward,” Formano said. “We’ve got our guy and we’re just waiting for clearance.”
Formano said the new head coach likely won’t be an on-campus coach, but does have head coach experience. Los Altos had roughly 25 applicants looking to take over for Dale Ziola, who resigned in December after a wildly successful run that saw him take one of the Valley’s most storied football programs off life support and make it viable again.
Los Altos reached two CIF championship games under Ziola, including last year’s CIF Southern Section Division 6 final. The Conquerors lost to Paraclete, but finished the season at 13-1.
The Conquerors are just about on time in the traditional sense. Spring practice is set to begin in May and summers are now full of workouts and passing competitions. Not having a head coach much longer could put Los Altos behind other programs.
One reason the process may have taken so long is that the school underwent a changing of the guard at principal during the school year, with Cheli McReynolds leaving and former assistant Jeff Hess taking over.
“That slowed the process a little bit, because attention was kind of diverted to other things on campus,” Formano said. “We would have like to have gotten this done earlier, but circumstance were what they were.”

HELP STILL WANTED
In addition to Los Altos, two other solid football schools are also without a head coach.
Rosemead just recently got into the market with the resignation of Marc Paramo last month. Paramo had been there five seasons and was a longtime assistant to previous head coach Matt Koffler.
El Monte is back in the market after just one season off. The Lions and Eric MacIntyre parted ways after just one season. Prior to that, alum Joel Sanchez headed the program for several years.
El Monte had its eyes on Arroyo assistant Josh Knight, who reportedly turned down the job late in the process.

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San Dimas baseball stays hot, beats Wilson 5-1 to take control of Valle Vista


By John Honell
Foul balls and freshmen, as well as an outstanding performance on the mound by senior Lorenzo Llorens, were the keys to San Dimas’ 5-1 win over host Wilson in a Valle Vista League contest on Tuesday afternoon.
Leading 2-0, Llorens bases-loaded double in the seventh inning broke open a pitchers duel between himself and Wilson ace Matt Rodriguez.The CIF Southern Section’s new pitch count rule, which limits pithers to 110 per game, came into effect against both pitchers in the seventh inning.
Rodriguez, who has signed with New Mexico, had to leave with one out and a runner on first when he got to his 108th pitch of the game in the top of the seventh.
A hit batter and a walk to set the table for Llorens, who cleared the bases with a double to right center.“I’m a pretty small guy,” Llorens said. I’m really cheating on the fastball and I got it.”

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Damien, Bishop Amat, La Mirada baseball fall in first round of the Boras Classic


By John Sherrard
Two CIF Southern Section Top 10 teams met in the opening round of the 5th Annual Boras Classic on Tuesday and Mater Dei High School came out on top over La Mirada, 5-1.
Mater Dei (11-6), ranked eighth in Division 1, received a complete-game four hitter from senior pitcher Michael Thomas.
La Mirada (15-3), ranked No. 2 in Division 2, off to its best start in the last few years, will play Bishop Amat (14-5) in a second-round consolation game at noon today at Mater Dei. The Monarchs advanced to a second-round game against Corona Santiago.
In other first-round games Tuesday, Bishop Amat lost 3-1 to Corona Santiago and Damien fell to Huntington Beach, 4-1.
Bishop Amat’s loss broke a 10-game winning streak.Corona Santiago scored twice in the top of the seventh on a run-scoring double by junior catcher Jacob Shanks for the 3-1 lead.

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