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Powerful young group leads way for All-Journal baseball and softball teams

Powerful young group leads way for All-Journal baseball and softball teams

Treven Crowley of Hilmar was one of five underclassmen who made this year’s All-Journal team.


POSTED June 2, 2017 7:46 p.m.

Turlock has long been known for its outstanding softball and baseball programs, and the 2017 season has its fair share of standout teams and players. The area’s top players for this season have been selected to receive All-Journal first and second team honors.

This season saw the Turlock High, Pitman High and Turlock Christian High baseball teams all make the playoffs. While Hilmar High barely missed the postseason and Denair and Delhi high programs battled through rough seasons, all of the small schools had notable standout players.

Many of this year’s All-Journal team selections are underclassmen, as younger players dominated the field.

A total of 28 make up both the first and second teams with the top first-team selections in Jack Wheeland (Pitman) and Tate Soderstrom (Turlock), who each helped pave the way for strong seasons that led to each team receiving a piece of the Central California Conference title.

Turlock led the way with eight selections. Pitman had six. Hilmar and TC each added five while Denair had three and Delhi one.

“I was really happy with what we were able to accomplish,” said Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte. “We struggled at times and the season didn't end how we wanted it to, but I did think us and Pitman were top teams and I can see it being like that down the road, both have young good players coming back.”

Turlock returns five of its players for the following season, while Pitman brings back four of the six chosen for All-Journal honors.

Some of those who were selected and return next year for Turlock were among the top contributors on the bats after hitting well above the .300 mark: Kayleb Becerra (.412), Case Pacheco (.338), Justin Hines (.324) and Tyler Soderstrom (.324).

“We are really fortunate, we have had a lot of good players and they work hard and I’m happy to see them recognized for their work. They have good things ahead of them,” said de la Motte.

Pitman will bring back its top hitter from this past season in Mac Cabero (.429), along with freshman standout Cole Carrigg (.294) and pitchers Tyler Stout (.292) and Brett Hagen (.274), who were difference makers on both sides.

Hilmar posted an overall record of 14-12 and 6-6 in the Trans-Valley League, just missing the postseason despite standout individual play primarily from three-year shortstop Preston Costa who batted .370 in his final year at varsity.

“There are a lot of positives to take from this year,” said Hilmar head coach Bobby Swedberg. “We hope to change the one-run deficits and turn them into wins and the kids coming back, not just all-league but kids spoken highly of and hopefully back ready to get to work and show more leadership.”

Costa was joined by senior Zach Berberia and freshman Treven Crowley on the first-team. Chris Flores and Auston Sutton made the second team.

“A big compliment to have five of our kids be listed among with some of the best within the area,” said Swedberg. “When talking about other schools, it’s a compliment for our athletes for sure. Tremendously proud of the kids that got recognized; now we hope to get more kids on the list for years to come.”

The TC Eagles made it 3-for-3 when it came to varsity high school baseball teams from the town of Turlock to reach the postseason after they came out and boasted a Central California Athletic Alliance record of 11-4, placing them in second.

There is no doubt that the leader for TC was freshman sensation Ryan Leonesio, who batted .441 for the year and never struck out in 84 plate appearances and added a team-high 23 RBI. Liam Jones (.431) and Jakob Skinner (.373) round off the first team. Markie Delgadillo and Caleb Heppner rounded the second team.

“Ryan was phenomenal and Jakob is the true leader of the team and he is solid behind the plate and killed it hitting wise,” said TC head coach James Burbank. “Then Markie, first solid play at second base and solid bat and best reliever. Liam played everywhere and was our ace. To think we have them all coming back is great.”

This earned them a semifinal spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VII tournament before they fell to No.1 Valley Christian, but the future looks bright for TC.

“Really the season stamped legitimacy,” said Burbank. “We knew we would come in a good year and had a lot of talent coming in and this year validated us as a program.  When we beat the big programs, we have to come with our ‘A’ game and can’t wait to see what happens.”

Delhi struggled with a winless 0-14 record in the Southern Athletic League, while Denair went 2-12 in league.

The Hawks of Delhi were represented by the team’s captain and leader in Daniel Saucedo.

“I think that he certainly earned it and showed the kind of person he is to have caught nearly every inning of every single game,” said Delhi head coach Kevin. “He never showed signs of fatigue and gave me 100 percent effort and that is all I ask for… he was the spark and to say he was the leader is an understatement.”

The Denair Coyotes rounded off the Journal's team with three selections including first-team Brenden Curnow to go with second team Trevor Lovelace and Blake Davis.

“As far as the season goes, we improved in the win column from the previous year, but we didn't do very well in league,” said Denair head coach Anthony Armas. “I think we progressed from the year before and took another small step along the long path of getting our baseball program back to what it used to be.”

 

All-Journal softball teams

The Turlock Bulldogs lead the way with seven selections for the All-Journal softball teams. Hilmar followed with six and Pitman added four strong players, which include three returners for next season.

“Coach Tribble and I are very proud of the team and their success,” said Turlock head coach Jill Ogden. “We met all of our team expectations, such as improved hitting statistics and making playoffs. Everyone on our team works very hard at practice and in the classroom. An area we are very proud of is that we had 10 out of 13 on the Academic All-Conference team, which requires a 3.5 or above G.P.A.”

Turlock finished its year with the best record in over half a decade and won its first postseason game in over a decade after defeating Gregori in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I bracket.

The Bulldogs won 16 games for the first time since 2009, and sophomore Shelby Frutoz was a big reason for their success.

She also headlines this year's All-Journal team after standing out in every game, including pitching and picking up 16 victories and also batting a team-high .443 in 28 games played that included seven home-runs. Sophie Mayol was also on the list after batting a second-best .429, including four homers.

Turlock returns four of its six players for next year including Mayol and Frutoz, who was the Central California Conference Pitcher of the Year and the team's Most Valuable Player.

“Shelby is a catalyst for our team both pitching and hitting,” said Ogden. “She is a gifted athlete and we would not have achieved the success we had this year without Shelby. Sophie is a team captain who has a vast knowledge of the game and helps her teammates become better players.”

Pitman ended its year with a record of 11-11-1 and 6-6 in the CCC, just missing the postseason after falling to Turlock in the regular season finale for the last playoff spot. That didn't overshadow the talent on their infield in particular with four of five making it on the All-Journal list.

“It just shows how hard the girls worked since coming into the program to get to where they are at,” said Pitman head coach Joe Lewis. “Each of them actually played multiple positions for me, they had their primary position but didn't miss a beat all year long.”

Morgan Aguiniga (.320), Lehua Deleon (.306) and Claire Fountain (.338) all return while Alanah Laupua (second team) is heading to Stanislaus State to play for the Warriors.

“I'm excited to return the three,” said Lewis. “I have watched them grow since freshman year and it will be exciting to see them be leaders and hopefully take us to a league title.”

The Denair Coyotes and Delhi Hawks each finished Southern Athletic League play with a record of 2-12, but a few standouts did emerge from both and were rewarded by making the list for best in the area.

Denair's Jessica Aguilar saw a great season after batting .389 with 34 RBI and a home-run, while teammate Kelsey Park batted .392 with 22 RBI and pitched almost every game for Denair according to head coach Sean Smiley.

The star for Delhi was sophomore Valerie Mercado, who pitched in all 25 games earning first-team SAL honors after batting .275 on the offensive side.

“She is a hard worker,” said Delhi head coach Mike Andam. “She is improving and hopefully by senior year will dominate. Our record... has been a long season but she never gave up and went out on the mound every game. She didn't have the defense this year, but she did her job and was recognized.”

The Yellowjackets of Hilmar are boasting half a dozen selections for this year's All-Journal team that includes three seniors making the first team in Kassidy Mendes, Miranda Gray and Sarah Hughes.

Hilmar clinched a playoff berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs after posting a 6-6 Trans-Valley League record and finishing fourth in league, but was ousted after their first contest.

However, head coach Kara Olesen likes the positive direction the team is headed in the future.

The selections for baseball and softball All-Journal teams were based off individual performances and coaches’ votes.

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