Around the TRAC: Kendall Milton offers pile up, TRAC baseball heats up, CW golf coach honored

Kendall Milton offers keep on piling up

Buchanan running back sensation Kendall Milton has been offered scholarships from powerhouse schools such as Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma. The sophomore recently took an unofficial visit to Florida State (shown here). (Photo contributed)

First, it was linebacker Caleb Kelly and then it was quarterback Adrian Martinez, both from Clovis West and both nation level recruits. Now let’s add Buchanan running back Kendall Milton to this exclusive club. Milton, only a sophomore representing the class of 2020, is receiving offers from the best of the best, cementing himself in the Mount Rushmore of Clovis area top national recruits.

Both Kelly (5 stars) and Martinez (4 stars) had offers from Power Five schools such as Alabama and Oklahoma and also most of all the Pac-12 schools. While Kelly eventually chose Oklahoma and played in this year’s Rose Bowl, Martinez ended up at Nebraska, joining new head coach Scott Frost.

However, Milton may end up with the most offers of them all – impressive for a student-athlete who just finished his sophomore season. The following are schools who finished the 2017-18 season in the AP top 20 who have offered the five-star recruit: Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Washington, Notre Dame, USC, Michigan State. Fresno State has also offered as has every single school in the Pac-12. In short, by his senior year he’ll have his pick of virtually any school in the nation.

Recently Milton took an unofficial trip to Florida State where the Seminoles are coming off a season that saw them go 7-6, firing head coach Jimbo Fisher with two games remaining and hiring Willie Taggart, who spent one season at Oregon. Milton came away impressed.

“I was impressed on how energetic the coaching staff was and also the practices,” Milton said about the trip to Florida State. “It excited me to be able to sit down with the coaching staff and hear what they have to say about how they plan to turn the program around.”

Milton led Buchanan (10-3) to the 2017 D-I Central Section title game, a 29-7 loss to Central. The 6-foot-2, 207 pounder finished with 1,514 yards on the ground and 23 touchdowns, averaging 8.7 yards per carry. He also had 113 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Milton and his Buchanan teammates will get a big test next year as the Bears added national power De La Salle to their non-league schedule with a home game on Sept. 21 at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Bears will travel to Concord in 2020, Milton’s senior year. De La Salle is most famous for its national record 151-game winning streak spanning from 1992 to 2004. Last season, the Spartans beat Central 49-30 in Concord.

On another note, 4-star recruit and skill position player Jalen Cropper has transferred to Buchanan from Sanger, forming one of the state’s most dynamic offensive duos.


TRAC Baseball heats up

Clovis West’s Kohl Simas is having an MVP type season for the Golden Eagles (15-3, 2-1), batting .406 with 24 RBI and 4-1 with a 1.22 ERA on the mound. (Photo courtesy of Tim Kent)

Now that Easter break and baseball tournaments are over, it’s time to unpause league and pick up where we left off. As of April 5, Clovis North is sitting atop at 3-0 (15-2 overall) followed by Clovis West 2-1 (15-3), Buchanan 2-1 (10-4-1), Clovis 1-2 (10-7), Clovis East 1-2 (10-5) and Central 0-3 (10-5). However, Clovis North has a big first week back with two huge away games at Clovis West and Buchanan. Clovis East, behind a one-hit complete game from Jared Aguilar, upset Clovis West 5-0 on March 24.

After perusing through the stats on MaxPreps (so valuable for us sports writer guys), there are some eye-popping numbers to be sure. For example: Chase Prieto of Clovis West is leading the TRAC in batting average at .465 with nine doubles, two HRs and 21 runs. Teammate and first baseman Kohl Simas is hitting .404 with six doubles, two triples, four HRs and 24 RBI. Senior Rodney Wright III has scored 19 runs batting leadoff. Simas is 4-1 on the mound with a 1.22 ERA and 38 Ks in 28 ⅓ innings, Nick Castro is 5-2 with a 0.55 ERA and Dusty Schramm has 32 strikeouts in only 19 innings.

Clovis North senior catcher James Bell is one of of the league’s most feared hitters, sporting a .431 batting average, four doubles, two home runs, 18 runs and 17 RBI. Senior shortstop Garrett Cooper is hitting .377 from the second spot in the lineup with 18 runs. On the mound, the Broncos are dangerous with sophomore lefty Riley Cooper’s 1.40 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 5-1 record pairing with senior righty Mikell Chavez and his 0.40 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 4-0 record.

Buchanan junior shortstop Brady Hormel is hitting a cool .400 with 14 runs and 15 RBI and center fielder Brock Jones has scored a league-leading 25 runs with an incredible on base percentage of .623, but most remarkable to me is his 22:4 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Junior outfielder J.D. Ortiz is hitting .381 with 12 runs and 12 RBI.

Clovis pitcher Blake Sodersten is having a great year as the 6-foot-2, 215 pound senior is 5-1 on the season with a sparkling ERA of 0.92 and a TRAC leading 50 strikeouts in only 38 innings. Junior catcher Darien Miller is batting .371.

Clovis East senior pitcher Jared Aguilar is as good as them come, evidenced by his complete game one-hitter in the Timberwolves’ 5-0 win over Clovis West. He is 4-0 on the mound and was named one of three Fresno Easter Classic MVPs, hitting .500 with two HR, three doubles, six RBI and seven runs scored.


TRAC soccer all-league teams announced

Buchanan goalie Alexa Marchini was named the TRAC Player of the Year. Marchini recorded 15 shutouts in 26 games for the TRAC and Valley champion Bears. (Photo courtesy of Eye For It All Photography)

The all-league teams for boys and girls soccer were recently announced and TRAC boys champion Clovis North landed the Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.

Cooper Wenzel, a sophomore goalie, was named Defensive Player of the Year and was instrumental in Clovis North’s run to a league title and the D-I Valley title game, a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Sunnyside.

Wenzel allowed only 13 goals on the season and recorded 106 saves with 11 shutouts for the Broncos (20-4-2, 9-1). 

“Cooper was a consistent leader for us in the back,” Clovis North head coach Cameron Shahrokhi said. “From organizing his team, to making big time saves, he did it all for us. I’m most impressed with his foot skills as a goalkeeper. We were very confident playing the ball back to Cooper.”

Player of the Year: Oscar Rubalcava – Clovis; Offensive Player of the Year: Isaiah Cummins – Buchanan; Defensive Player of the Year: Cooper Wenzel – Clovis North; Coach of the Year: Cameron Shahrokhi – Clovis North.

First Team All-League: Christian Silva, Josh Tyburski, Raul Jazo – Clovis North; Evan Ghimenti, Tyler Hensel, Carlos Osuna – Clovis; Tyron Cargin – Clovis West; Joseph Damian – Clovis East; Michael Arrington, Salvador Aguirre – Central.

On the girls side, Buchanan had a fantastic year winning the TRAC and D-I Valley title, a dramatic win in penalty kicks at Liberty. The Bears lost their first round CIF State playoff home game to La Mirada in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.

Buchanan goalkeeper Alexa Marchini was name the league’s Player of the Year. Marchini, who is attending Northern Arizona next season, recorded over 150 saves and 15 shutouts in 26 games this season.

“Not only was Alexa the linchpin of our team this season but she is the best high school goalkeeper I have seen in the Central Section over the past 20 years,” said Buchanan coach Tim Carroll, the Coach of the Year. “What impressed me most about her this season is how humble, hardworking, selfless focused and responsible she was off the field and how she can take all those characteristics and seamlessly apply them on the field.”

Player of the Year: Alexa Marchini – Buchanan; Offensive Player of the Year: Kylie Lucero – Clovis; Co-Defensive Player of the Year: Emma Brown – Clovis, Maicee Espinoza – Central; Coach of the Year: Tim Carroll – Buchanan.

First Team All-League: Kyndel Borman, Taylor Phillips, Erika Montano, Madilyn Hernandez, Kiara Gaines – Buchanan; Callie Thiesen, Hannah Martin – Clovis; Keska Turner, Cat Villegas – Clovis East; Hannah Hall – Clovis North; Lauren Hudec – Clovis West.


Clovis West girls golf coach receives state honor

Clovis West girls golf coach Ken Shipley has a most stellar reputation around the golfing community and is known for his warmth and gracious spirit. Now, the retired Fresno State professor who holds a Ph.D in speech language pathology, can add a most well-deserved award – The CIF Model Coach Award.

Now in its 17th year, the CIF Model Coach Award program is designed to recognize coaches who have served as positive role models in their schools and communities, and who have exhibited the traits apparent in the 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor.

“I am tremendously honored by such an award,” said Shipley, whose daughter, Jennifer, starred in golf at Clovis High, graduating in 2005. “It is very special and it’s also a great tribute to all the ladies who have played here at Clovis West.”

The CIF website had this to say about Shipley: “Over his 11 years at Clovis West, Shipley has built an elite level girls golf program. His teams have experienced great success a he continues to challenge his student-athletes and set high expectations every year. A patient and an outstanding teacher of golf, Shipley is a person of strong moral character and his teams’ success is a direct reflection of his talent as a coach and person.”

This year, the 2017 Clovis West team won the Valley Championship by an unprecedented 64 strokes and has won nine out of the last eleven Valley titles under Shipley’s tutelage.