About Steve Ramirez

Steve Ramirez has covered prep sports for San Gabriel Valley Newspapers since 1989.

Is eight in the cards for La Habra? Coach Frank Mazzotta and his players talk about the upcoming season

La Habra is arguably the most-successful program in the area over the past two decades. The Highlanders have won seven CIF-SS titles since 2002 and will be in the hunt for an eighth this season. We visited them at practice Thursday, and here’s what we found out.

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La Serna football coach Andy George, players talk about upcoming season

La Serna, No. 7 in the SGVN preseason rankings, has lived by the “next-man up” philosophy for more than a decade and that’s not expected to change this season. The Lancers are again in a reload, but are also again expected to be one of the top teams in the area. Wednesday we took a visit to their training camp and talked to coach Andy George and a few of his impact players.

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St. Paul football coach Rick Zepeda, players talk about upcoming season

St. Paul enjoyed its best football season in nearly a decade last season. Now the Swordsmen are back for more. Coach Rick Zepeda and some of its players talk about improving on last season’s effort during our tour of the top 10 training camps. St. Paul begins the year at No. 8.

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La Mirada football coach Joaquin Aguilar, players talk about new season

The great demise of the La Mirada football team may be great exaggerated. We visited the Matadors on Monday and they talked about the upcoming season.

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Walnut wins first CIF-SS baseball title since 1982; Mustangs rout Righetti, 13-2

Walnut’s Dylan Zavala (#2) jumps onto the pile and celebrates with his team after defeating Righetti during Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 3 baseball championship game at UC Riverside Baseball Complex in Riverside, Ca., Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Photo by John Valenzuela/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

By Stephen Ramirez
What a difference two years can make.
For the Walnut High School baseball team, it was everything.
In 2015, the Mustangs’ quest for a CIF Southern Section baseball title ended almost before it started, giving up five runs in the first inning before losing big to Redondo.
Saturday, it was Walnut’s turn to smother a team, jumping out to a four-run early lead en route to a 13-2 victory over Righetti to take the Division 3 crown at UC Riverside.
It was Walnut’s second baseball championship and first since the Mustangs defeated Mira Costa for the 4-A title in 1982.
James Arakawa had three hits and four RBIs and pitcher Jacob Garcia gave up two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for Walnut (25-9). Mitchell Bagby and Joseph Bolvin each had an RBI for Righetti (28-7).

“I’m ecstatic,” Walnut coach Paul Acosta said. “I’m a Walnut pure-bred. I was born in Walnut, I went to school in Walnut. I’m blessed to coach at Walnut and even more blessed to bring this trophy back, not just for the team and the program, but for the school and the community. I’m just very proud to be a Mustang.”
Walnut blitzed Righetti for 15 hits and scored in five of the seven innings to win easily. It was similar to what Redondo did to the Mustangs in 2015, scoring five runs in the first inning before Walnut came to bat en route to a 10-0 victory,
“We did that a little bit,” Acosta said of the early-inning barrage. “It made things a little bit more comfortable for us.
“The reason behind it was we put together so many good disciplined at-bats that resulted in some runs, giving our pitchers some room and comfort. It was really nice to play all three parts of the game well from the first pitch to the 21st (out).”
Walnut jumped on the Warriors quickly, getting its first two batters on in the first before Dylan Zavala’s RBI single. Arakawa made it 4-0 in the second with a two-run single. He also had RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings.
Walnut sealed it in the fifth, scoring six runs for an 11-0 lead after getting five consecutive singles, including consecutive RBI singles from Brandon Godoy, Adam Rodriguez and Frankie Zamarripi.
“I felt really good,” Arakawa said. “I really wasn’t paying much attention to my at-bats. I was paying attention to going middle to the right side. I’ve been practicing hard all season and that hard work paid off.”
Garcia took care of the rest. He didn’t give up a hit until the third and allowed just one through five innings. He tired in the sixth and finished with four hits allowed in 5 1/3 inning and six strikeouts.
“The first five innings, I was feeling great,” Garcia said. “I was doing what I needed to do. I wasn’t trying to strike anyone out, just allow them to hit it to my guys. I knew I had them behind me.
“When the sixth inning came, I knew I had (Dylan Needham) coming behind me who could do the job.”
Walnut, after RBIs by Bagby and Bolvin made it 11-2, scored two in the seventh to go up 13-2 before Needham induced Alex Castellanos to ground out to finish off the Warriors and begin the celebration.
“Bringing this back home to Walnut is very special,” Arakawa said. “It was our turn to win it this year.
“Two years ago, we came up short, but this time we got to the finish line. We won it.”

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Softball: Charter Oak routs Covina, faces host Vikings for Northview Tourney title

Charter Oak defeats Covina 9-1 during the Northview High School softball tournament semifinals at Duarte High School on Thursday, April 6, 2017. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

By John Honell
The Charter Oak High School softball team continued its hot hitting, coming away with its third mercy rule win of the Northview Spring Break tournament in a 9-1 semifinal win over Covina in a game played at Duarte High on Thursday afternoon.The Chargers (12-1) will play the winner of the Duarte-Northview game Friday at Northview at 3 p.m.The Chargers jumped on top in the second inning, sending nine batters to the plate, scoring four runs on three hits and taking advantage of a pair of Colts errors.
They were never threatened as senior EmaRae Flores shutout the Colts (7-8) for four innings and gave up only one hit as she picked up her 12th win of the season.
“I try to keep the ball low and get ahead in the count,” Flores said. “I can always count on our defense and my infield makes the plays, so we can get back up to bat.”
Flores didn’t give up a hit until her rival in the circle, Bailey Griego, singled up the middle in the fourth inning.
Flores then hit Cheyenne DeBoynton with a pitch, but got out of the jam with a couple of ground outs.
“Charter Oak is a very good team,” Colts coach Joe Brown said. “Those errors didn’t help but, top to bottom, they swing the bat well, play great defense and their pitching is solid.”
The Chargers scored five more times in the third inning on the way to giving first-year coach Brittany Saucedo a win on her birthday.
“We work on all the little things,” Saucedo said. “I tell them that it’s the little things that count and when we play our game and do what we need to do, we’ll be successful. We try to keep pushing and be aggressive to force the other team to make mistakes.”
Catcher Jantzen Owen had a pair of singles and Xophia Venegas knocked in two runs to lead the Chargers attack.
The Colts only run came in the fifth inning when Andrea Apodoca singled and came home on a Griego’s second single of the game.
“(Griego) helped herself with the only RBI,” Brown said. “She’s been doing that all year, but we didn’t play well behind her. But it’s a spring break tournament and we’d rather be playing games than practicing. We’re just trying to get ready for (Valle Vista) League play.”

Charter Oak 9, Covina 1
Northview 10, Duarte 4
Paloma Valley 8, Pioneer 1
Baldwin Park def. Gladstone
Friday’s schedule
At Northview HS

Charter Oak vs. Northview, 4:45 p.m.
Paloma Valley vs. Baldwin Park, 2:30 p.m.
Pioneer vs. Gladstone, 2:30 p.m.
At Duarte HS

Covina vs. Duarte, 2:30 p.m.

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Baseball: South Hills edges Charter Oak as both honor long-time supporter Mike Moore

South Hills High baseball vs Charter Oak High at Mt. SAC campus stadium in Walnut, Calif. April 5, 2017. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, SGV Tribune/ SCNG)

WALNUT >> There comes a time in an athlete’s career when the moment requires the player to either contribute to a winning effort, or get replaced in the lineup.For South Hills right fielder Carlos Camarena that moment came in the bottom of the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s nonleague game against Charter Oak at Mt. SAC.With the bases loaded and no one out, Huskies coach Darren Murphy talked to Camarena prior to his appearance at the plate.
Camarena proceeded to line a single to left field that scored Jacob Dominguez with the tying run in the Huskies’ eventual 3-2 victory. The Huskies (12-3) won the game when Jacob Amaya was hit by a Bret Clementson pitch. allowing Zach Bromstead to score the winning run.
Charter Oak starting pitcher Julian Rodriguez threw six solid innings, giving up one run and six hits.
The Chargers (8-3) scored the game’s first run in the fifth inning when Jacob Moreno hit a hard line drive to center field that scored Jason Adame. Landon Howell then laid a soft bunt down the third-base line that scored Ronnie Parham to increase the Chargers’ lead to 2-0.
South Hills scored its first run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Karlos Morales singled to right field to score Daniel Genna. The rally was stymied when Brandon Dieter grounded into a double play.
In a pregame ceremony, the teams honored the recently deceased Mike Moore, who was a key member of the Charter Oak Youth Baseball Association and was recently the booster club president for the South Hills baseball program.
A scholarship fund has been started in his name.
Longtime Charter Oak High coach and current South Hills assistant coach Tom Quinley was honored in a postgame ceremony. Quinley was at the City of Hope National Medical Center, undergoing surgery.
South Hills coach Darren Murphy: “I wanted to bring in a pinch hitter, but then I told him that it was his time to show us that he can produce in this spot. “You definitely didn’t want to go in a league game Friday with a loss. We haven’t won many games like this. We still had a bit of a jet-lag feeling from our trip to North Carolina, but our guys fought against a very good team.”
Charter Oak coach Elias Chavez: “Our team competed tonight. I think the first time that we played them, the lights were a little too bright for us. Tonight we competed. This is a great example when you compete for seven innings. “Rodriguez became a man tonight. He was dominant from the first pitch to the last. It was really hard to take him out (in the seventh inning), but I couldn’t ask for him to do anymore. He really kept us in this game.”
— James Escarcega

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