This week saw a unique treat for athletes in the Journal’s coverage area, after a total of nine student-athletes signed their letters of intent to their respective universities, including seven that signed to a Division-I University that included USC, Fresno State and UCLA among others.
Turlock and Pitman high schools saw a total of six sign to a major Division-I program., while Hughson had two and Hilmar saw one student signing.
Turlock High saw Andy Owen (USC), Tyler Soderstrom (UCLA) and Cole Carrigg (San Diego State) all sign on Wednesday.
Pitman High students Justin Hill (University of the Pacific) and Kade Morris (University of Nevada-Reno) signed on Wednesday, while Megan Johnson (Concordia University-Irvine) signed on Thursday.
“Pretty much interested in going into the Pac-12, luckily I got to see all the colleges at a younger age with my brother,” said Soderstrom. “I had options early on and I had some great visits, the campus is amazing, and great coaching staff and I had a great relationship with the guys going and I decided to commit there. Just growing up, I think it is in my blood, but growing up, my dad played baseball at an early age and I always wanted to play. Ultimate goal is to be in the big leagues, and I always wanted to outdo my dad, plus always competed with my brother and trying to keep up with him.”
Following the conclusion of this past season, Soderstrom batted .450 in 28 games played and added 12 doubles, four home-runs and had an on-base-percentage of .565, along with a slugging percentage of .775.
Owen played for Jesuit High during his junior season and had the most innings pitched for the No. 50 team in California. He was even the starting pitcher against Turlock High in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs where they beat the Bulldogs, 4-2. Owen finished the with 45 innings pitched, a team-high to go with his team-high 65 strikeouts and a 2.64 ERA. Owen transferred to Turlock this year.
"I felt most comfortable at USC and I know the coaches there will help me become the best version of myself as a pitcher and off the field,” said Owen. “USC also has a great winning tradition and the education there is great. I was originally committed to Cal and had offers from a few other schools but ended up deciding USC would be the best fit for myself. My goals for this upcoming season are to do whatever I can to help my team win. Our biggest goal as a team is to win a section championship. I am really looking forward to pitching to my cousin Tyler and playing alongside him as he is an elite hitter and catcher. Also, I would like to thank God, my family, friends, and coaches for helping me to get to the point I am at."
Carrigg was the other Bulldog who signed, opting for SDSU and finished last season with a batting average of .438 and had 19 RBI and a home-run.
Hill played for Turlock High last season, but was used sporadically during a season that saw eight collegiate players on the team. It didn’t matter as scouts saw his talent and he received multiple D-I offers, including University of Washington and UNR. In seven appearances over 29 games played with Turlock, Hill tossed 18 innings and allowed just eight earned runs and struck out 32. He finished with a save and a 3-0 record. Hill transferred to Pitman this year.
“To me UOP was the most at home feeling I received from any college,” said Hill. “The coaching staff really knows what they're doing and they take time to really take care of each and every player. Not to mention I can get a great education while I'm there. Biggest goal for me this year is to ultimately make an impact on Pitman's program and most importantly win us a league title. Personally, I hope to keep an above 4.0 GPA and keep getting better every day."
Morris is joining last year’s THS grad, Ethan Hurte on the UNR squad.
"The process was overwhelming at first because I never experienced anything like that so when I started getting noticed by these colleges it was crazy. But UNR was the right choice for me because I believe it will give me the best opportunity to grow not only as a student athlete but as a man,” said Morris.
Last season, Morris finished the year second on the team in innings pitched with 49 and ⅔ innings. He had 68 strikeouts, 32 walks and a 2.96 ERA in 10 appearances.
“I have big goals for our team and for my self being to win CCAL and go deep into the playoffs. I also want to beat Turlock," said Morris.
Pitman's Morris and Hill are expected to be arguably the best starting duo in the Central California Athletic League.
Johnson, Pitman’s softball standout, signed to Concordia University-Irvine after receiving a scholarship offer. The Pride went 9-6 in their first year in the Central California Athletic League. In 22 games played as a junior, Johnson batted .306 and was 20 for 20 on stolen base attempts and stolen bases.
In 24 games played this past spring, Gose batted .605 and had a team-high 49 hits and 35 RBI.
Thornsberry batted .477 in 24 games played, to go with 22 RBI and a home-run.
“Great examples of what Hughson High holds,” said Hughson softball head coach Paul Gose. “They exhibit the qualities that we love, team first, work hard, excel, great work ethic.”
Friday afternoon saw Hilmar High’s Treven Crowley officially sign with Fresno State after receiving a scholarship to play for the Bulldogs.
"To be honest, the goal was just grinding out and loving the sport I loved ever since I was a child. I am very excited to be a Bulldog. That was one of my dream schools ever since I was a kid. The feeling is shocking and it just hasn't hit me yet,” said Crowley.
In 22 games played in the spring, Crowley batted .588 and had a team high in runs (30), hits (40), and home-runs (2). He also had 18 RBI. On the mound he had a 1.96 ERA and tossed 53 and ⅔ innings, allowing just 15 earned runs while striking out 80. Opponents hit .187 off him.
Crowley has topped out at 94 miles per hour and throws around 91-93 heading into his senior season. He was also named the Trans Valley League Offensive Player of the Year.
The spring season starts in February.