The long-slumbering bats of Cal High’s softball team have awoken for the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs.
Cal advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal round with a pair of offensive outbursts, first a 9-2 drubbing of Atascadero – after a four hour-plus bus ride to Northern San Luis Obispo County – followed by its 7-6 victory over Warren on Thursday.
Condor coach Jim Kruse said the team’s approach at the plate has been more patient in the postseason, which has resulted in deeper counts and more pitches seen.
“It’s been amazing,” Kruse said Friday morning. “The (offensive) potential has always been there but we never really had a plan at the plate. Now, we have a plan.”
Kruse warned the team before Thursday’s game Warren pitcher Courtney Sheldon liked to get hitters to swing at low pitches just out of the strike zone. Cal’s batters laid off the low pitches, forced Sheldon to get the ball in the strike zone and had a big day.
“Before we would always go for (low pitches),” Kruse said, “and (Thursday) we didn’t.”
Senior third baseman Brigid Ruiz hit a home run Thursday and senior outfielder Rachel Shumaker knocked in the go-ahead run in the seventh.
“The seniors really performed well,” Kruse said.
Of the Condors’ 11 losses this season, they were held to two or fewer runs nine times, and they earned a pair of 1-0 victories as well.
On Saturday, Cal will visit Palos Verdes in a quarterfinal match-up. The Sea Kings knocked off No. 1 seed Burbank 5-2 on Thursday. Game time is 1 p.m.
Whittier-area softball teams make up nearly half of the quarterfinal field in the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, with La Serna, Cal and St. Paul still alive after victories Thursday.
La Serna ended Bishop Amat’s season for the second year in a row with a 6-0 victory, and will host North Torrance in quarterfinal action Saturday. The Lancers have played once at home and once on the road in the playoffs, and they drew the home game because North played two home games. St. Paul will host Grand Terrace after Thursday’s 14-5 rout of Alemany. Grand Terrace has played two home games so far, meaning it had to go on the road in the third round. Cal lost a coin flip Friday morning and will travel to face Palos Verdes in the quarters Saturday. Cal edged Warren 7-6 Thursday while Palos Verdes upset top-seeded Burbank 5-2.
In Division 6, Cantwell-Sacred Heart will host Shadow Hills on Saturday following its 10-0 rout of Vasquez on Thursday. Each team opened the playoffs with two home games, meaning a coin flip was necessary.
Schurr and Montebello were both eliminated from the Division 5 playoffs after road losses Thursday, with Schurr losing to Silverado 11-3 and Montebello falling 10-6 to Ontario Christian.
Only Cal and La Mirada survived the first round of the CIF-SS baseball playoffs among Whittier area teams Thursday, and both will hit the road for the second round after coin flips Friday morning.
Cal was a 12-0 winner over Anaheim in its Division 4 opener, and will visit Don Lugo in the second round Tuesday. Both had home games Thursday, so a coin flip was needed to determine the site. La Mirada beat visiting Pasadena 4-2 on Thursday in Division 2 and will visit Glendora, which also won at home, Tuesday.
The season came to an end for Del Rio League teams La Serna and El Rancho, both of whom won Division 4 wild-card games earlier in the week. The Lancers were beaten on the road by La Sierra 7-0 and the Dons fell 4-1 at South Torrance.
First-round action continues today with Cantwell-Sacred Heart hosting Jurupa Hills and Whittier Christian visiting Mary Star, both in Division 5.
The way Joey Covarrubias sees it, he doesn’t have any choice but to fight.
The Cantwell-Sacred Heart senior basketball star and his family received devastating news last week when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Just 19 years old, and two days removed from signing a letter of intent to play basketball at Cal State Monterey Bay, Covarrubias received the news no teenager should ever have to hear.
But in a fashion typical of the young man, he’s prepared to fight. Covarrubias’ spirit and drive made him the undisputed leader of a Cantwell team that was one victory from reaching the CIF State Division 4 final, and he was selected the Whittier Daily News All-Area Player of the Year in April.
“He’s been fantastic about this,” his father Joe explained Wednesday, speaking from UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, where Joey is being treated. “He immediately said ‘We’re gonna beat this.’ … He’s been the strongest of everyone around here, I’ll tell you that.”
Ewing’s Sarcoma is typically found in adolescents between 10-20, and is discovered in only about 250 Americans each year. If found early enough, before it has a chance to spread throughout the body, it can be treated successfully in 50-75 percent of the time, according to webmd.com.
Covarrubias went to his doctor last week complaining of shoulder and chest pain, and a CAT scan revealed fluid in his lungs. Surgery was initially scheduled, but a follow-up x-ray revealed a mass, which caused his doctors to cancel the surgery and perform a biopsy. The results revealed a malignant tumor.
He’s since undergone a PET scan and bone marrow test, and is scheduled to begin aggressive chemotherapy in the next few days.
“Joey’s a fighter, obviously,” said Cantwell basketball coach George Zedan. “He knows it’s an uphill, tough situation, but it’s just another challenge for him to overcome.”
In the days since his diagnosis, a fund-raising effort has been set up at www.gofundme.com/savingjoey. Nearly $37,000 have been raised so far, but more will be needed. NBA player Earl Watson, for whom Joey played last summer in AAU ball, donated $13,000. Nearly 250 people had donated as of Wednesday night, including high school competitors against whom he’s played, and even the most modest amount is welcome.
“Everybody loves the kid,” said Zedan, “… and they’re asking ‘What can we do?’”
It wasn’t the foul language that made La Mirada baseball coach Kim Brooks’ 15-minute recorded tirade so troubling. Every player who was in that room hears or says many of those same words every day at school, at practice, walking from class to class or at lunch. They hear worse in the music that blares from car stereos. They hear worse on a nightly basis on HBO or Showtime.
What made Brooks’ profane outburst so troubling was its belittling, bullying nature and his loss of perspective. He quickly moved beyond trying to motivate his players after a poor performance and began to attack.
“If you can’t f***ing dive for a ball in the infield, f*** you! Can’t make a routine play? F*** you! Let somebody else try to make a GD f***ing routine play! You’re gonna f***ing b**** and complain to the f***ing umpire? … F*** you! Get off the GD mound. I want a man out there!”
F*** you? From an adult, from a teacher no less, to a high school kid? Sorry, but that’s unacceptable. This isn’t an example of thin-skinned, spoiled youngsters who can’t handle stern criticism, or the further feminization of males in this country, as far too many keyboard tough guys have commented. It’s an example of teens being bullied by someone in a position of authority, by someone who should know better.
When reached for comment Tuesday, Brooks acknowledged his language was “inappropriate,” and he apologized for its use. He said his intent was to motivate his players after what he felt was a selfish performance, and at times his words – salty as they were – went in that direction.
“You’ve gotta own it,” he told them. “(If) we play hard, and we lose, I can accept that. … (But) you don’t play like that for me. You don’t wear the (La Mirada) uniform and play like that for me.”
A perfectly acceptable chewing out at that point, and one it sounds like the team deserved that day. But the tone descended quickly from there. There was no encouragement, only ridicule.
Brooks has plenty of support in the La Mirada community. Twitter is full of parents, students and former players who have got his back, and many marched in front of the campus Tuesday night. Comments online have noted the positive influence Brooks has wielded for many years on his students and players, young men and women who went on to college and productive lives with his help. There is no reason to believe all those things aren’t true, and it would be a shame if Brooks’ legacy was reduced to a secretly recorded audio tape.
But he’s the one who chose those words, he’s the one who screamed “f*** you” to a room full of teens, and he left the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District little choice.
Thursday’s CIF-SS Division 2 baseball playoff game between Pasadena and La Mirada is clearly the area game that has the most interest, given the viral nature of suspended La Mirada coach Kim Brooks’ lengthy tirade that is making the rounds.
But several other games, both baseball and softball, should be interesting as well. El Rancho can run its winning streak to eight games when it visits South Torrance in a Division 4 first-round game. The Dons beat Montclair 3-1 in a wild-card game Tuesday, and they’ve allowed three runs or less in six of their last seven games.
In Division 3 wild-card baseball action today, St. Paul will visit West Covina. The Swordsmen have come on strong in the past few weeks, winning five of their last six, and even had a chance to share the Del Rey League title entering their regular-season finale.
In Division 3 softball, La Serna and Bishop Amat will meet Thursday in a rematch of last year’s second-round game, won by the Lancers in walk-off fashion. The game will be played at Amat.
Also Thursday, Schurr will take a seven-game winning streak into its Division 5 second-round game at Silverado in Victorville. The Spartans have outscored their opponents 61-8 during their streak, never allowing more than two runs.
All games 3:15 p.m. unless noted
St. Paul at West Covina
Pasadena at La Mirada Division 4
Anaheim at Cal
La Serna at La Sierra
El Rancho at South Torrance, 4 p.m. Division 5
Whittier Christian at Mary Star
Jurupa Hills at Cantwell-Sacred Heart
All games 3:15 p.m.
St. Paul at Alemany
Warren at Cal
La Serna at Bishop Amat Division 5
Montebello at Ontario Christian
Schurr at Silverado Division 6
Vasquez at Cantwell-Sacred Heart
The baseball teams from La Serna and El Rancho each won CIF-SS Division 4 wild-card games Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s first round.
La Serna beat visiting San Gabriel 7-0, paced by six strong innings from junior Enrique Pacheco. John Mendoza went 2 for 2 with a solo home run and Tony Ceron drove in a pair of runs. The Lancers will visit La Sierra in the next round.
El Rancho continued its recent hot streak with a 3-1 triumph on the road over Montclair. The Dons will play at West Torrance on Thursday.
In first-round softball action, La Serna (Div. 3), St. Paul (Div. 3), Schurr (Div. 5) and Montebello (Div. 5) scored victories while La Habra (Div. 3) and Whittier Christian (Div. 4) saw their seasons come to an end. Tuesday’s winner’s will play second-round games Thursday.
The boys tennis team from La Serna was knocked out of the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs Monday with a 13-5 quarterfinal loss to Jurupa Valley.
The Lancers, undefeated champions of the Del Rio League, finished the season with an impressive 17-2 record. They won a pair of playoff matches, 17-1 over Ganesha in the first round and 13-5 vs. Chino in the second. La Serna was the last Whittier-area team alive in the postseason.
Jurupa Valley will meet Rim of the World in the semifinals Wednesday. Rim of the World knocked off No. 1 seed Rosemead on Monday 9-9 (82-74).
For the softball team from Santa Fe High, it was the close games it couldn’t close out. For La Mirada, close games at the end of the season were hard to come by.
Each lost Monday in the wild-card round of the CIF-SS playoffs, La Mirada 8-2 to San Clemente in Division 2 and Santa Fe 5-4 to Fullerton in Division 3. La Mirada ended its season on a five-game losing streak in which it allowed 41 runs. In their final six games of the season, the Matadores went 1-5 and gave up 54 runs, were shut out twice and were held to two runs or less four times.
Santa Fe’s 5-4 wild-card loss to Fullerton was its fourth in a row to close the season, all by one run. The Chiefs lost six one-run games this season and were beaten by three runs or less 10 times.
Monday’s loss marked the seventh time in the last eight years the Chiefs lost their playoff opener, most of those in the wild-card round.
“I call it the wild-card blues,” said Santa Fe coach Randi Berg.
Santa Fe finished the season as the third-place team in the Del Rio League at 5-5 and with a disappointing 11-18 overall record.
“It’s been a rough year all around,” Berg said. “We have a great team on paper, but I guess you can say we never really meshed.”
La Mirada entered the final week of Suburban League play tied for first place, but it was swept by league champ Cerritos and dropped to third going into the playoffs. A rash of late-season injuries didn’t help. The Matadores finished the season with an 18-12 overall mark.