By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
Something curious and all-together frustrating is happening this year in regards to the D-1 Valley championship baseball playoffs – and coaches, fans and media people are left scratching their heads for a plethora of reasons (anytime I can use the word plethora in a column it makes my day). The past two seasons all six of the Central Section championships games have been held at Visalia’s Rawhide Stadium over a Friday and Saturday. Now, there’s little doubt the stadium is a great looking ball park, albeit a bit small with some kooky rules about celebrations after wins (examples: not allowing anyone besides the players and coaches on the field for pictures and shoeing players off the field a few minutes after the game).
Oh well, but there’s a deeper issue this season as the Rawhide have a weekend series planned, yep, you guessed it, exactly when the final games are supposed to be lined up to play. So, instead of the games on May 27-28, the two-day event is now on Memorial Day and Tuesday where the D-1 game would be played at 8 p.m.
Besides the logistic issues what does this mean for the baseball playoff teams? Let me explain: in the Tuesday semi-final game the question for coaches would be if a team should throw their ace pitcher, hoping to get to the championship game on Friday and then lean on their No. 2 pitcher. Now, since there is only one game (the semi-final) that week a team can pitch their No. 1 in both the semi-final AND the championship game on the following Tuesday. In short, strategy is taken away and a team can ride their ace all the way through – the No. 2 pitcher may not be needed at all which has always been the most important factor in winning a Valley baseball title.
Despite the boo-boo by the powers that be, the teams still have to play baseball and beat the team they’re matched up against. Three of our TRAC teams are seeded at the top – No. 1 Buchanan, No. 2 Clovis North, No. 3 Clovis, so there’s a good chance we are making the drive from Clovis to Visalia anyway.
Clovis North tennis rides in Valley championship match against Clovis West, wins North Area
With a TRAC title and now a North Area title on the books, the Clovis North tennis team still has their ultimate goal within grasp – a Valley tennis title.
Led by two-time defending D-1 Valley Individuals champion Daly Meinert (only a junior) the Broncos are seeking their first D-1 title in school history and will meet TRAC foe Clovis West on May 17 in the Valley championship match.
To reach the finals Clovis West (21-4) defeated Stockdale 6-3 behind the singles play of Addison Weil, Taka Shin and Robbie Ellis and the doubles play of Ellison/Shin, Weil/Ferdinandsen, and Cody Castro/Tommy Sesock.
Clovis North (18-2) destroyed Bullard 9-0 with dominant singles play from Daly Meinert, Miles Hale, Stephen Pimentel, Derek Yao, Billy Schulz, Sahib Bhatia, and doubles Miles Hale/Stephen Pimentel, Micah Pletz/Joey Yang, and Ethan Cardot/Tanner Wood.
Badminton team title for Buchanan, Clovis East’s Vang
The TRAC took two of three Central Section badminton titles as Buchanan pulled the team upset over Clovis East, then a few days later Clovis East’s Rose Vang won her own singles championship.
The Bears came in as the third seed, upsetting the No. 1 Timberwolves in the championship match 13-11 on May 5 for their third consecutive title.
Buchanan’s Lasya Gudipudi, Sravya Gudipudi, Rachel Arkelian, Komal Hombal and Alexandra Pagani won their singles matches and also received doubles wins from Lilly Moua/Krystal Nammavongsa, Avena Cheng/Nari Chang , Shaye Dubberke/Megan Mouanoutoua, Emily Braun/Kaitlin Tang and Jenna Guinn/Julia Pagani.
Vang defeated Buchanan’s Sravya Gudipudi (who also starred on the tennis team) in the finals. Clovis West’s Rosemary Vu and Clovis High’s Kendyl Ogas placed third and fourth respectively.
Clovis High’s Cassidy Crouch and Hayden Mammen took second in the doubles finals.
Clovis North golf win Nor Cal title, Hathcoat wins individual
Clovis North dominated the team competition at the Central Section North Area golf tournament, winning by whopping 17 strokes over Clovis West as Blake Hathcoat led the charge with a 3-under 69 on May 9 at Pheasant Run Golf Course in Chowchilla.
The Broncos remaining four played consistent golf: Kyle Stewart (71), Bryce Loosigian (72), Justin Lagera (74) and Peter Faragia (77). Clovis West was led by Peter Kuest (72) and Tyler Gardner (75) while Clovis placed third and led by Chast Foster (73) and Jackson Lake (75).
The Valley championships were held on Monday, May 16 at Valley Oaks Golf Course in Visalia and the individual finals held later at Buena Vista Golf Course in Taft.
Buchanan volleyball continue dominant season
We’ve been saying all season that it doesn’t look like the Buchanan boys volleyball team will be challenged by a Central Section opponent this season. And if the first round of playoffs is any indication they’ll surely hold serve.
They Bears are currently ranked No. 3 in the state and the nation.
The Bears rolled their last four TRAC opponents in Clovis East 3-1, Clovis West 3-0, Clovis 3-0 and Clovis North 3-1 to finish TRAC at 10-0. They then beat Bullard 3-0 in the second round of the D-1 Central Section playoff after a first-round bye to improve to 27-3 overall.
The section finals are slated for May 20 and the SoCal Regionals start May 24.
TRAC baseball roundup
Buchanan 7 Clovis North 0
Grant Gambrell threw five shutout innings allowing only two hits and striking out four and Kyle McKenney pitched two scoreless. Jamal O’Guinn went 3-5 with two runs scored and Quentin Selma 2-3 with two runs scored.
Clovis East 5 Central 2
Jared Aguilar got the win and Aaron Woodard the save in the Timberwolves 5-2 over Central. Justin Thatcher went 3-4 with a double and 3 RBIs and Danny Ramirez went 2-4. Central’s Dylan Lewis went 2-4 in the loss.
Clovis West 5 Clovis 3
Clovis West sophomore pitcher Dusty Schramm beat Clovis ace Zac Whittaker. The Eagles’ Ian Ross went 2-3 with two RBI and Everett Gomez earned the save.
Buchanan 5 Clovis North 1
Hunter Reinke pitched a complete game with five strikeouts to improve to 10-0 on the season. Buchanan catcher Zach Presno hit a fifth inning solo home run, his fifth of the season. Grant Gambrell went 2-4 and Cory Williams 2-2 with an RBI as the Bears finished league play 14-1. Clovis North senior Matt Frazier hit a double and scored a run.
Central 6 Clovis East 5
Daiveyon Whittle of Central pitched five innings with five strikeouts and Chase Daly went 3-4 with a double, home run and two RBIs. Clovis East’s Rylan Greenlee went 2-4 and Jared Torres 3-3.
Clovis 9 Clovis West 4
Clovis’ Sid Lacy threw two scoreless innings in relief for the win as the Cougars scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for the victory. Daniel Bono went 2-3 with two RBI and Mason Grotto hit a two-run double for the Cougars. Clovis West’s Rodney Wright went 2-4 with a double.
TRAC softball roundup
Buchanan 1 Clovis 0
The Bears won at least a share of the TRAC title as Molly Millar threw a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. Faith Rousey singled in the only run of the game in the third inning, plating Katie Jackson who led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch.
Central 12 Clovis North 6
Breanna Martin got the victory and Arianna Navarrete went 3-4 with a double and two RBI. Clovis North’s Sarah Ballinger went 2-3 and senior Kristen Gaston had a triple and an RBI.
Clovis East 10 Clovis West 4
Olivia Shimmin pitched a complete game for the win and both Emily Lear and freshman Taja Felder hit home runs. Fellow freshman Syrena Garcia and Mikaela Hirsh-Ward each went 2-4 with an RBI.
Clovis East 14 Central 4
Taja Felder won on the mound and sister Mye Felder went 3-4 with a home run and three RBI. Alexis Parras went 2-5 with a double and two RBI, Camryn Monreal went 4-4 with a double and three RBI and Emilee Lear 2-2 with 2 RBI.
Buchanan 21 Clovis North 0
Sophomore Molly Millar pitched a game-shortened three-hitter with eight strikeouts as the Bears clinched a TRAC title on senior night. Sienna Swain and Faith Rousey combined to go 9-9 with two doubles, two triples, seven runs scored and an incredible 10 RBI. Katy Ridener went 2-3 with two runs and three RBI and Hunter Samsom went 2-2 with three runs.
Clovis 13 Clovis West 2
Danielle Lung pitched a complete game with ten strikeouts. Mackenzie Byrd went 2-2 with three runs, Alyssa Caballero went 3-4 with a home run and six RBI and Grace Henson 2-2 with two doubles and two RBI.
Final TRAC baseball standings
Clovis North 11-4
Clovis West 5-10
Clovis East 4-11
Final TRAC softball standings
Clovis East 6-4
Clovis North 2-8
Clovis West 1-9