CVC’s De Groot named girls soccer coach of the year by California Coaches Association

Jacob De Groot has gone 159-30-7 with four Central Section titles in seven seasons as Central Valley Christian’s girls soccer coach.

Central Valley Christian’s Jacob De Groot has been named the Coach of the Year for girls soccer by the California Coaches Association.

De Groot will be recognized for lifetime achievement during the CCA’s 56th annual Hall of Fame/Coach of the Year Awards Night, scheduled for June 15 at Fresno’s Radisson Hotel and Conference Center.

De Groot is 159-30-7 with seven league and four Central Section titles in his seven seasons as the Cavaliers’ coach.

The CCA will also honor Central Section historian Bob Barnett with its Ed Strelow Award media award.

Dinner tickets are $45. Cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 and the awards program at 8.

Details: Rob Grailou (650) 341-2484.

Central Section’s Area boys tennis tournament set seeds

Bullard High’s Viran Batth and the Clovis West team of Patrick Huls and Michael Sasso were giving the No. 1 seeds in singles and doubles, respectively, for the North Area individual boys tennis tournament.

The event, set for Friday and Saturday at Buchanan, is one of three area tournaments that will advance four automatic qualifiers in both singles and doubles to the Central Section Individual Championships. Each area tournament will also produce four singles and doubles wild cards, with four of those 12 total wild cards being selected for the 16-player/team fields for the section championships, scheduled for May 17-18 at Wasco.

The top eight singles seeds — including No. 2 Allen Wang of Buchanan, No. 3 Zain Amro of Buchanan, No. 4 Alex Tecescu of Clovis North, No. 5 Jayke Ancheta of Clovis West, No. 6 Lincoln Hoppe of Bullard, No. 7 Dhillon Chongtoua and No. 8 Gaston Villanueva of Liberty-Madera Ranchos — all have first-round byes.

Doubles seeds No. 2 Andy Vang-Omar Hernandez of Clovis East, No. 3 Ben Liang-Josh Comes of Buchanan, No. 4 Alex Corgiat-Teddy Apler of Bullard, No. 5 Pao Vang-Brian Chongtoua of Clovis East, No. 6 Weston Shipstead- Alex Julian of Bullard, No. 7 Jarrett Tajima-Daniel Garcia of Central and No. 8 Parker Ellis-Willis Pesl of Clovis also have opening-round byes.

Action starts at 2 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.

In the Central Area, Central Valley Christian’s Andrew Gong and Monache’s Rocky Phaphol and Matt Ecobiza were given the top singles and doubles seeds for a tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Visalia. Doubles matches are at Redwood on Friday and Golden West on Saturday. Singles matches both days are at Golden West. Action starts at 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.

Other singles seeds include No. 2 Bailey Gong of CVC, No. 3 Evan Morritse of Redwood, No. 4 Raymond Lee of Hanford West, No. 5 Juan Carlos Silva of Golden West, No. 6 Sam Orozco of Monache, No. 7 Giacoma Catalina of Porterville and No. 8 Chris Popa of Sanger.

The other doubles seeds are: No. 2 Patrick Smith-Edsel Antunez of Selma, No. 3 Connor Bennett-Robert Cardenas of Sanger, No. 4 Jared Lavinder-Spencer Jones of Mt. Whitney, No. 5 Jason Alonzo-David Ivancovich of Monache, No. 6 Ryan Leasure-Robert Yang of Hanford West, No. 7 Winston Thao-Luciano Moreno of Granite Hills and No. 8 Andres Villarreal-Cooper Short of Sanger.

Central softball ace fires pefecto

Central’s Rachel Rodriguez pitched a perfect game in the Grizzlies’ 2-0 win over Bullard.

Central High’s Rachel Rodriguez pitched her first career seven-inning perfect game, stifling one of the better softball teams in the Central Section in the process.

The junior right-hander who has given an oral commitment to Boise State didn’t allow a ball out of the infield while striking out a career-high-tying 10 to lead The Bee’s No. 2-ranked Grizzlies over No. 5 Bullard on Thursday in a nonleague game.

With command of all her pitches, including an effective change-up, Rodriguez reached a three-ball count on only four hitters while firing Central’s first perfect game since Lindsey Clarkson’s against Clovis West in last season’s section Division I championship.

“She was just dominant from the beginning,” Grizzlies coach Scott Gorton said. “She threw to every location she wanted to.”

Central scored the only run Rodriguez would need in the top of the first, with pinch-runner Maryssa Kamimoto coming home from third on a double-steal with Jilee Schanda. Selena Ruiz singled in an insurance run in the fourth.

Bullard’s Claudia Puente was also sharp, pitching a two-hitter with six strikeouts.

Central, El Diamante top field for Clovis Easter Softball Classic

Rachel Rodriguez leads defending champion Central into the Clovis Easter Softball Classic

The past two Central Section Division I softball champions — Central and El Diamante highs — headline the the Clovis Easter Classic.

All of The Bee’s Central Section Top 10 are in the 23-team field for a tournament that starts Saturday at the Buchanan Softball Complex, including defending section champions in Hanford West (D-III) and Liberty-Madera Ranchos (D-V).

Pool A: Cesar Chavez, No. 7 Clovis, No. 9 Frontier, Hanford, Madera, Liberty-Madera Ranchos.
Pool B: No. 4 Buchanan, Clovis East, Dinuba, Hanford West, No. 6 Golden West, Reedley.
Pool C: No. 10 Centennial, No. 3 Clovis West, No. 1 El Diamante, Taft, Mt. Whitney, Memorial
Pool D: No. 5 Bullard, No. 2 Central, No. 7 Clovis North, Kingsburg, Lemoore.

Pool play begins Saturday and continues Monday with games on Fields’ 1-4 at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Read more →

Fowler softball tournament features pair of defending section champions

A pair of defending Central Section softball champions are among the 10-team field for the Fowler Easter Softball Classic, which starts Saturday and continues Monday and Tuesday.

Fowler, the Division IV champion last season, is one of five teams in the Andrea Duran Pool, joined by Dos Palos, Immanuel, Lindsay and Washington.

Sierra Pacific, the reigning D-VI champion, is in the Ray Garcia Pool that also features Caruthers, Chowchilla, Mendota and Woodlake.

Opening-day games include Chowchilla vs. Caruthers and Mendota vs. Woodlake at 9 a.m.; Sierra Pacific vs. Caruthers and Lindsay vs. Dos Palos at 10:45 a.m.; Fowler vs. Immanuel and Woodlake vs. Chowchilla at 12:30 p.m.; Sierra Pacific vs. Mendota and Washington vs. Lindsay at 2:15 p.m.; Dos Palos vs. Immanuel at 4 p.m. and Fowler vs. Washington at 5:45 p.m.

After a day off on Sunday, the tournament resumes with Woodlake vs. Sierra Pacific and Caruthers vs. Mendota at 9 a.m.; Fowler vs. Dos Palos and Immanuel vs. Washington at 10:45 a.m.; Caruthers vs. Woodlake and Sierra Pacific vs. Chowchilla at 12:30 p.m.; Washington vs. Dos Palos and Lindsay vs. Immanuel at 2:15 p.m.; Chowchilla vs. Mendota at 4 p.m. and Fowler vs. Lindsay at 5:45 p.m.

The top two teams in each pool advance to semifinals on Tuesday, with one starting at 10 a.m. and the other at 11:45 a.m. The third-place game is set for 3:30 p.m. and the championship at 5:30 p.m. at Marshall Field.

Stucker jumps to top of Bullard career softball HR list

Junior Claire Stucker is Bullard’s career softball home run leader with 12.

At a school that counts two past Cal-Hi Sports state players of the year and a current NCAA All-American among its alumni, junior Claire Stucker already stands alone as the greatest power hitter in Bullard High softball history.

Stucker clubbed her school-best 12th career home run Thursday in the Knights’ 10-7 victory over Clovis West that salvaged a nonleague doubleheader split.

That’s two more than Christine Thomsen — a second-team All-America pick for Utah State last season — hit for Bullard from 2005-2008.

Stucker opened the season tied for second in school history at nine with former UCLA great and current Clovis North coach Courtney Dale, the state Player of the Year in 1995. Bullard’s Marissa Marzan was the state POY in 2001.

Stucker tied Thomsen for first with a blast against Buchanan on Feb. 27 and set the record with a homer on March 4 against El Diamante. The Central Section career record of 32 was set by Corcoran’s Demi Walker (2007-2010), according to section historian Bob Barnett.

“I would definitely put her up against anyone I’ve coached or played with, and that’s close to 20 years,” said Bullard’s Jaime Maxey, who coached Thomsen and Marzan and played alongside Dale.

“As far as sheer power, she might have the most I’ve ever seen in high school. When I’m coaching third base, I get way up the line when she comes up because there’s no time to react. The ball screams off her bat.”

Stucker, who’s given an oral commitment to Mississippi State, will look to add to her total Saturday at the rain-interrupted Buchanan Preseason Tournament.

Bullard — ranked fifth in the section by The Bee — will face Hanford West at 1 p.m. (Field 2) and Kingsburg at 2:45 p.m. (Field 2) in the completion of a tournament that had six of 15 teams from the Division I bracket and six of 12 in D-II unable to return to the Buchanan Softball Complex on Friday.

No champion will be crowned.

Central Section announces winter’s top teams academically

The Central Section announced its Winter Lexus Academic Team Champions on Monday, with the top collective team grade-point averages belonging to Lemoore in wrestling (3.47), Kingsburg in girls basketball (3.67), Central Valley Christian in boys basketball (3.55), Memorial is girls soccer (3.67) and Immanuel in boys soccer (3.53).

Mission Oak, Mt. Whitney, Redwood and Sierra were the only schools in all the Central Section to have all five winter sports teams sporting collective GPAs of 3.0 or better.

The most academically successful winter sport is girls basketball, where Kingsburg, Memorial, Coalinga, Granite Hills and Dinuba all sport team GPAs of 3.6 or higher, and 28 schools have at least a collective 3.1.

Tough choice looms for D-I girls soccer seeding

Bullard’s Erin Banda, right, tries to skirt by Sanger’s Amber Rodriguez in their girls soccer match at Sanger High on Jan. 31, 2013. (CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE)

Interesting decisions loom Saturday when Central Section soccer playoff seedings are announced, particularly in Division I for the girls.

I’m curious to see which school is anointed the top seed by section commissioner Jim Crichlow and his crew, at least as things stand at this moment.

Bullard (16-3-1) and Central (20-4) appear to be the top two contenders. The Knights and Grizzlies have split two head-to-head showdowns, with Central winning the last matchup 2-1. Bullard won the first 2-0.

The Knights have already secured no worse than a tie for the County/Metro Athletic Conference title. Central will at least win a share of the Tri-River Athletic Conference crown if it beats Clovis North and Clovis East this week.


Read more →

Bold move for Fresno Unified in football: No offseason full contact

Bullard’s head coach Donnie Arax, center, greets the Central High coaching staff midfield after a scrimmage game against Central High at Central High on Friday night, August 17, 2012, in Fresno. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

In the most progressive move yet in the north Valley to reduce football injuries — specifically concussions — the Fresno Unified School District on Tuesday adopted a policy to prohibit full contact in the offseason.

That means no tackle in pads will be allowed outside of August, when practice begins, through the teams’ final games of the season, in November or December.

Offseason tackle in gear is commonplace at the high school level in summer camps and scrimmages.

“It’s tough for me to make this concession because I’m a dinosaur, we hit more than any team in the area and I’m going to miss it,” Bullard coach Donnie Arax says. “But I think it’s a smart move because this concussion issue isn’t going away. This is a great sport and we’ve got to establish measures to keep it so we don’t start losing kids. Parents in suburban schools are not going to let their kids play football if we don’t make changes.” Read more →

EYL girls, WYL boys capture all-star water polo games

The East Yosemite girls and West Yosemite boys won all-star water polo games matching top seniors from the two leagues Saturday at Redwood High.

Both scores were 11-8.

In the girls game, Porterville’s Marnie Kavern was the EYL team’s MVP while El Diamante’s Faith Silveria was the MVP for the WYL. Lemoore’s Clayton Paul (WYL) and Monache’s Trevor Kroutil (EYL) were MVPs of the boys game.

It was the fifth straight year that the Kiwanis Clubs of Exeter and Visalia put on the all-star games.