Young Fresno City softball team off to a quick start

Kassandra Workentine

Kyla Cisneros

With a quick glance at her softball roster before the season started, Fresno City College coach Rhonda Williams took a deep breath:

“One returning starter. You don’t know how freshmen are going to respond.”

So far, pretty well, with the Rams 5-2 heading into Thursday’s game at Modesto. Kassie Sierras (Yosemite High) is the returner, but she played second base last season and is now the starting catcher.

Kyla Cisneros (El Diamante) is hitting third and has two home runs and four RBIs. Freshmen Adriana Bencomo (Bullard) is batting .450 with two homers and four RBIs, and Dana Moritz (Clovis) leads the team with a .467 batting average.

The roster also includes Kassandra Workentine, who’s recovering from a knee injury and hasn’t played softball since graduating from Washington High in 2010, and Grace Combs (Memorial), who transferred in from Southern Idaho.

“We didn’t have any expectations,” Williams said. “We thought, ‘Here we go and let’s see how they do.’ They looked good in practice and in the fall semester. Some of the players we have, have experience competing at a high level from the programs they’ve come from and travel ball.”

Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team eyes top seed in NCCAA West

Fresno Pacific’s Rickey Vick goes to the hoop on a fast break against Hawaii Hilo in their game at Fresno Pacific Monday, January 14, 2013.

Even though the Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team isn’t eligible to play in the Pacific West Conference tournament and the NCAA Division II tournament, it doesn’t mean the Sunbirds can’t go to a postseseason tournament.

There is a realistic shot that the Sunbirds could go to the National Christian College Athletic Association tournament that is comprised of faith-based schools from DI, DII, DIII and NAIA.

Teams are divided into regions and must survive that field to qualify for the national tournament. The Sunbirds would be the top seed if the season ended today. The West Region playoffs will be comprised of four teams with the higher seed hosting.

Region winners would then move on to the national tournament in Winoa Lake, Ind. on March 5.

As of now, the top four West Region teams are:

1. Fresno Pacific (15-7, 10-4)

2. Arizona Christian (17-6, 7-4)

3. Cal Baptist (13-9, 7-7)

4. Azusa Pacific (9-11, 6-6)

Other teams:

5. Hope International (22-5, 7-4)

6. Point Loma (4-18, 1-13)

Read more →

Rams women basketball clinch a tie for CVC title

Fresno City College’s Keyora Wharry scored 10 points in the Rams’ 80-48 victory over Porterville on Wednesday. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

The Fresno City College women’s basketball team is on the verge of clinching another outright Central Valley Conference title.

The Rams took care of business Wednesday night and routed host Porterville 80-48. Fresno City did clinch a tie for the CVC title but would be outright conference champion with a victory Saturday against Reedley at Fresno City College gym.

Either way, Fresno City has its sixth consecutive conference title under coach Brian Tessler. The Rams are winners of 60 straight games overall in CVC play.



Sunbirds baseball picked to finish sixth in PacWest

Fresno Pacific baseball coach Oscar Hirschkorn

Fresno Pacific baseball coach Oscar Hirschkorn wasn’t surprised when he learned that his team was forecast to finish sixth out of 10 teams in its inaugural Pacific West Conference baseball season in a vote of league coaches.

“League doesn’t know much about us,” he said. “I didn’t think we would be put very high. That’s OK. End of the season is what matters.”

The Sunbirds, who opened the season with a three-game sweep of San Francisco State, host Cal State Stanislaus in the 2 p.m. home opener Friday.

Defending conference champion Cal Baptist is picked to repeat, picking up six of the 10 first-place votes. The Lancers are a former Golden State Athletic Conference rival of the Sunbirds, with both teams now in NCAA Division II.

Grand Canyon, under second-year coach and former major leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, earned three firsts and was picked second.

Also new to the league are Point Loma and Holy Names.

Sunbirds’ win streak ends

Fresno Pacific’s Malcolm Griffin grabs a rebound against Hawaii Hilo in their game at Fresno Pacific Monday, January 14, 2013.

The Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a hot-shooting night by Dixie State on Tuesday. The Red Storm shot 71% from the field en route to a 106-91 victory, snapping the Sunbirds’ seven-game win streak in a Pacific West Conference showdown in St. George, Utah.

The loss dropped the Sunbirds into a third-place tie with Grand Canyon.

Fresno Pacific did manage to force the Red Storm into a season-high 24 turnovers, but were outscored 54-24 in the paint as the Red Storm ran their win streak to eight games.

“They absolutely shot the heck out of (the ball) – some of that was us and some of that was them,” Fresno Pacific coach Chris Wright said. “I thought we showed a lot of character to come back from 26 down to make it a six point game. We have to defend better.”

The Sunbirds return home Saturday night to face Azusa Pacific.

Sunbirds men’s hoops put streak on line in showdown

Fresno Pacific’s Matt Samuels drives against Hawaii Hilo’s C.J. Brown in their game at Fresno Pacific on Jan. 14, 2013. (CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE)

Can the Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team get closer to Dixie State?

We’ll see.

The Sunbirds put their seven-game winning streak on the line against the Pacific West Conference leader on Tuesday in St. George, Utah. The Sunbirds trail the Red Storm by two games.

Dixie State has won seven straight, edging Grand Canyon 65-64 on Saturday while the Sunbirds rolled to a 108-62 victory over Holy Names.

Sunbirds coach Chris Wright has a simple game plan: “We have to do what we do, which is make the game fast-paced. We have to be very solid defensively and not get beat up on the glass.”

The Sunbirds defeated Dixie State 82-80 earlier this season. After Tuesday’s game, the Sunbirds return home to face Azusa Pacific on Saturday.

Fresno City’s Vercher commits to Wisconsin

Fresno City College’s Corey Childs, Josh Lang and Donnell Vercher try to recover a fumble by Butte College’s Michael Faggett late in the 2nd half Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 in Fresno, Calif. (GARY KAZANJIAN/THE FRESNO BEE)

Fresno City College defensive back Donnell Vercher (Clovis High) made a non-binding oral commitment to play at Wisconsin.

Vercher, 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, had 23 tackles and eight interceptions this past season.

He also had scholarship offers from Fresno State and Syracuse.

National letter of intent signing day is Wednesday.





Rams extend CVC hoops streak under Tessler

Fresno City College women’s basketball coach Brian Tessler works with the team Jan. 31, 2013. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Fresno City College women’s basketball coach Brian Tessler continues to have his way in the Central Valley Conference. And so have his teams.

The Rams defeated Merced 59-48 behind Madison Parrish’s 31 points Saturday night, and Fresno City ran its win streak in conference play to 57 games under Tessler.

Tessler, who previously coached at Reedley College (streak started in 2006) then took the job at Fresno City in 2007, has seen his teams win 72 in a row.




Coaches weigh in on Super Bowl XLVII

With Super Bowl weekend already here, it’s time to ask several Valley coaches who they think will win Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

Fresno City women’s basketball coach Brian Tessler: “Baltimore 28-24. Joe Flacco is playing extremely well and has a great record in the playoffs. If he doesn’t throw an interception in the Super Bowl, he will be the first quarterback in history to play four playoff games without a turnover.”

Fresno City men’s basketball coach Ed Madec: “Can’t tell you the names on each teams, but if I had to pick a team it would be Baltimore.”

Fresno City football coach Tony Caviglia: “I’m going to be neutral. I’m a Raiders fan and a Bay Area guy and my hometown is in 49ers territory. I have a lot of close friends on the Baltimore Ravens staff. I’m looking forward to a good game that could come down to the wire.”

Fresno City baseball coach Ron Scott: “49ers. I think Jim is a better coach and I think the 49ers are a better team.”

Fresno Pacific men’s basketball coach Chris Wright: “”Love the Ravens. I think Colin Kaepernick comes back to earth and has a few costly turnovers.”

Fresno Pacific women’s basketball coach Erin Scholz: “It’s too late to pick the Broncos, so gotta represent and go for the 49ers, coming from someone who has no clue about the strength and weaknesses of either team.”

Injuries hit Sunbirds women hoops

The Fresno Pacific Sunbirds women’s basketball team has been hit hard with injuries this season, namely starters senior forward Keri Stephanoff and junior point guard Jenay Herring.

Stephanoff had been out with an undisclosed injury but returned Jan. 12 against Grand Canyon while Herring suffered a partially collapsed lung and a fractured rib against Cal Poly Pomona on Nov. 14. Sunbirds coach Erin Scholz said the team is seeking a redshirt season for Herring.

Despite the adversity, the Sunbirds will put a four-game winning streak on the line Saturday at Holy Names.

“It’s been tough,” Scholz said. “Over time, our team has grown and stayed connected. Just have to persevere.”

The Sunbirds started the season 0-14 before picking up their first win against Chaminade on Jan. 19.