Clovis West wins tight TRAC baseball title race
Clovis West clinched its TRAC title in a rather unorthodox way – after a loss.
The Golden Eagles lost to Clovis 3-1 in the final league game, finishing with a 10-5 record and then had to play the waiting game. Just a 10 minute drive away from Stan Bledsoe Field, Buchanan was at Clovis North where the Bears needed a win to create a co-TRAC title. However, the Broncos won 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning on a wild pitch, securing Clovis West’s first outright league title since 2012.
“We weren’t bummed, we knew we at least had a share of the TRAC championship,” Clovis West coach Kevin Patrick said after the game. “I told the team to walk out of there with their heads up, most likely we were going to be the No. 1 or 2 [playoff seed] so we were happy about that.”
The Buchanan loss along with the Clovis North win and Clovis East’s 7-6 comeback victory over Central created a three-way tie for second place at 9-6. Clovis, the defending D-I Valley champ, finished at 7-8. The parity throughout league was uncanny.
Clovis West received the No. 1 seed in the D-I Central Section playoffs, gaining home field advantage. Clovis North earned the No. 3, Clovis East No. 4, Buchanan No. 5 and Clovis No. 7.
On Tuesday, May 8, the Golden Eagles clinched at least a tie for the TRAC title with an 8-2 win over Clovis behind the solid pitching of Kohl Simas (5 innings, 7 Ks) and the bats of senior center fielder Rodney Wright III (3B, 3 RBIs) and junior shortstop Karson Simas (2-3, 2 RBI).
“Honestly it is an amazing feeling – my teammates and I have worked really hard for this moment,” said Wright, the Fresno State football signee. “It’s something that none of us have done here and something Clovis West hasn’t done in awhile so I’m glad we could pull it out for Coach Patrick and the rest of the staff.”
Clovis West’s pitching has been a strong point for a team that went 23-7 on the season, led by seniors Kohl Simas, Nick Castro and Dusty Schramm. The pitching staff finished the regular season with a 1.57 ERA.
The surprise team this year in the TRAC was Clovis East (19-9, 9-6) under first-year coach Ryan Smith. Last year the Timberwolves went 3-12 in league and 4-11 in 2016. This year they won their last four games, including a two-game sweep of Buchanan, both one-run games; 6-5 and then 4-3 in nine innings.
“We had a great group of seniors who really took leadership to a level that this program hasn’t seen in a long time,” Smith said. “From the start in the summer our seniors kept everyone accountable to our team goals. Without solid, consistent senior leadership we don’t put ourselves in a position to win every ball game.”
Smith lofts heavy praise upon senior Jared Aguilar: “His teammates would tell you from game 1 through 28 that if we needed a hit, a strike out or a play to made, they would want Aguilar to be the guy.” The Fresno Pacific University signee hit .368, 24 runs, 3 HR, 18 RBIs playing three different positions and was 6-1, with 86 Ks, 16 BB, and a 1.02 ERA on the mound.
Leading hitters on the season include Danny Gamez (.367, 16 RBIs) and Casey Durham (.324, 17 runs).
Smith also points to the May 10 game against Clovis North when the Timberwolves scored 12 runs combined in the 5th and 6th innings for a 12-8 win as a major turning point in the season.
The playoffs begin May 15 with the championship game scheduled for May 26 at 8 p.m. at Rawhide Stadium in Visalia.
Samansky leads Clovis West girls to Valley swim title, CN boys win too
Clovis West’s Abby Samansky had herself a mighty fine day in the water, breaking four Valley records and leading her team to a streak of 22 consecutive Valley titles at the CIF Central Section D-I swimming championships at Clovis West on May 12.
Samansky won the 100 free (49.90) and 200 free (1:47.79) and was the opening leg of the record-breaking relay team in the 200 free (1:35.75) and 400 free (3:29.57).
“Going into the meet it was all about confidence,” Samansky said. “You have to know you’re going to perform well, it’s not a question.”
The CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships will be held at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex from May 18-19.
Samansky broke Tristin Baxter‘s 2010 record of 1:48.92 and Buchanan’s Stephanie Bartel‘s 2016 record of 50.60. Samansky’s Clovis West teammate Caitlyn Snyder (50.86) was the runner-up in the 100.
The Clovis West record setting 200 and 400 freestyle relay squad consisted of Samansky, Jordan Gruce, Lexie Voice, and Snyder.
Snyder, a senior, blistered the field in the 50 free with a time of 23.27 to break a 20-year-old record by Kristie Begin (23.55). Clovis North’s Brooke Costella, who also took 3rd in the 100 free, finished 2nd in 23.56.
“I didn’t think I was going to be even close to a 23.27 at the end of the year,” Snyder said. “I was hoping to go fast but I had no idea that was going to happen.”
Clovis also had a great day as senior Shelby Vidmar and junior Averee Preble were double winners individually. Vidmar won the 200 IM (2:10.49) and 100 breast (1:05.99). Abby Mammen won the 100 backstroke (57.73) and Preble in the 100 fly (55.24) and 500 free (4:48.72). Mammen, Vidmar and Preble along with Taylor Anderson won the 200 medley relay (1:47.51).
Clovis West dominated in its 22nd straight Valley title with 476 points. Buchanan was second at 315 followed by Clovis 255.
On the boys side, Clovis North won its second consecutive D-I title, winning eight of 11 events on the program. Benjamin Forbes, a junior, came away with four wins – two individual and two relay, like Samansky.
Forbes won both the 100 (45.66) and 200 free (1:38.73) and led off the Clovis North 200 (1:24.87, Fobes, Bodhi Bowden, Cole Fleming, Michael Jia) and then anchored their 400 free relay (3:07.71, Samuel Taylor, Parker Bell, Bowden, Forbes).
Jia won the 50 free in 21.05 and the 100 fly in 48.93 and Bronco teammate Theo Tuggle the 500 free in 4:34.44.
Clovis North’s Ethan DePry won the 200 IM (1:53.99), Clovis West freshman Austin Lane won the 100 back (51.19), and his teammate Joaquin Jamieson in the 100 breast (58.14). The team of Lane, Jamieson, Parker Fife and Mason Harris of Clovis West won the 200 medley relay in 1:35.47.
Clovis North scored 533, Buchanan 486.5, Clovis West 226.5, Clovis East, 156.5.
While Samansky and Forbes had amazing days in the water, there is always a sense of comradery among the swim athletes, especially those involved in club swimming.
“It’s the most amazing thing in the world to watch the people you train with, who you know work so hard, be able to do so well,” Samansky said.
Clovis softball dominates TRAC, earns No. 1 playoff seed
Led by a remarkable senior class, the Clovis softball team dominated the TRAC this year with a perfect 10-0 record, outscoring opponents 68-6 and earning the No. 1 seed in the CIF Central Section D-I playoffs.
Cal-Hi Sports’ No. 9 team closed out TRAC play with a 9-0 win over Clovis West, finishing the regular season with a 27-2 record as senior Danielle Lung improved to 22-0 on the season with 15 strikeouts, allowing only one hit.
Emily Puente and Jordyn Martinez each hit a home run, continuing their back and forth battle for the school’s career home run record of 19.
“Danielle has put together one of the best careers in section history,” Clovis coach Mike Noel said. “For every game she’s pitched in, she’s given her team a really good chance to win.”
Consider the facts: Lung, a Fresno State signee, has a 89-9 career record, 1.00 ERA, and 917 Ks in 626 innings according to Central Section historian Bob Barnett. This season she has four no-hitters and 237 strikeouts. She has won two Central Section D-I championships, in 2015 and 2017, and was the winning pitcher in both, throwing a 2-0 no-hitter against Central her freshman year.
“Go out and score a few runs, maybe just one, and you probably win,” Noel said about Lung on the mound. “It’s a wonderful gift she’s given us all.”
The Cougars have one of the most balanced teams in recent Central Section memory; pitching, solid defense and a mix of power of situational hitting.
Another senior, shortstop Tori Mueller, has been a catalyst at the top of the order. In the win over Clovis West, she went 3-5 with two runs and two RBIs.
“Tori has really done a fantastic job at the top of the order,” said Noel, who is seeking his 10th overall D-I Valley title. “She’s been on base all year for the middle of the order and her play at shortstop should not go overlooked. She’s turned a lot of tough plays into outs and in crucial times.”
In addition to Mueller, the team has received significant contributions from junior Grace Henson, sophomore Allie Puente and seniors Jenna Scarborough and Ashley Kincaid.
“We’ve all been playing together for so long that we create a special bond,” said Mueller, who is attending the University of Massachusetts-Lowell next year. “There’s a lot of love there.”
“This senior class is special because the amount of talent there is,” said Lung, who verbally committed to Fresno State her sophomore year. “Most of us have played together for a long time in travel ball. We work very well together.”
TRAC track and field championship gold medalists
The Clovis North boys track and field team was on a mission this season after coming so close in last year’s TRAC championships. This year, however, they were not to be denied, winning the team title.
“It was just a great feeling to see the boys finally earn a team title,” Clovis North coach Rich Brazil said. “Last year we were close and the kids were fired up as soon as we got back to school this fall for this season.”
The Broncos Caleb Foster and Kurtis Kobzeff were both triple winners, each part of the 4×100 relay team that ran 41.70. Foster won the 100 (10.80) and the triple jump (23-01), while Kobzeff took home the 200 (21.70) and 400 (49.73).
“They really just bought in and rolled up their sleeves and just put the work in every day,” Brazil said “It has been a collective effort from each area of the team.”
Buchanan’s Christian Johnson won the shot put (54-11.25) and the discus (174), and Clovis High’s Jake Woods took home gold in the 110 hurdles (14.53) and 300 hurdles (38.28).
The Buchanan girls took home their fifth consecutive TRAC title in dominating fashion, taking home 11 golds out of 16 events with Lauren Fowler and Meagen Lowe both earning doubles. Fowler won the 100 (12.34) and 200 (25.16) while Lowe won the 800 (2:15.43) and 1600 (5:08.65).
100m: Lauren Fowler, Buchanan, 12.34
200m: Lauren Fowler, Buchanan, 25.16
400m: Elleyse Wheaton, Clovis North, 58.89
800m: Meagen Lowe, Buchanan, 2:15.43
1600m: Meagen Lowe, Buchanan, 5:08.65
3200m: Sydney Fox, Buchanan, 11:22.09
100m hurdles: Monea Jennings, Central, 15.33
300m hurdles: Monea Jennings, Central, 45.83
400m relay: Buchanan, 48.66
1600m relay: Central, 3:59.86
Shot put: Maren Butler, Buchanan, 42-06
Discus throw: McKenna Chaney, Buchanan, 128-04
High jump: Lauren Card, Buchanan, 5-04
Pole vault: Elizabeth Funk, Clovis West, 12-00
Long Jump: Lauren Fowler, Buchanan, 18-07
Triple jump: Anaya Sperling, Buchanan, 38-03.50
100m: Caleb Foster, Clovis North, 10.80
200m: Kurtis Kobzeff, Clovis North, 21.70
400m: Kurtis Kobzeff, Clovis North, 49.63
800m: Andrew Scherf, Clovis, 1:59.09
1600m: Isaiah Galindo, Clovis North, 4:30.66
3200m: Jared Falcone, Clovis East, 9:53.03
110m hurdles: Jake Woods, Clovis, 14.53
300m hurdles: Jake Woods, Clovis, 38.28
400m relay: Clovis North, 41.70
1600m relay: Buchanan, 3:21.87
Shot put: Christian Johnson, Buchanan, 54-11.25
Discus throw: Christian Johnson, Buchanan, 174
High jump: Stanley Cain, Clovis West, 6-06
Pole vault: Nathan Brown, Central, 13-06
Long jump: Caleb Foster, Clovis North, 23-01
Triple jump: Jared Whitt, Clovis North, 47-00.25