Sierra's Chang Looks To Carry Success To Chico State

 April Chang (Left) and Sierra College Head Coach Kim Silva at Whitney Oaks Golf Course in Rocklin ( Jeremy McDonald- 65 Sports)

April Chang (Left) and Sierra College Head Coach Kim Silva at Whitney Oaks Golf Course in Rocklin (Jeremy McDonald- 65 Sports)

By Jeremy McDonald

Legends are written on the pages of history.

Sitting next to Sierra College Head Women’s Golf Coach Kim Silva on the outside patio at Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin, ear buds in her ears and looking at her phone is sophomore April Chang.

Chang’s dominating career started in 2013 when she received the All-Conference MVP while breaking the Wolverine individual score record with a 67 on a Par 72 course during her freshman year with the Wolverines.

In 2014, Chang made the All-Conference, All-State and All-NorCal Teams and despite missing out on the Conference Most Valuable Player award by a quarter-of-a-stroke, Chang finished second in the two-day state tournament with a 151 score on the Par 72 course.

Chang believed her time at Sierra has made her more confident out on the green.

“Before I joined Sierra, I was not very confident.  I was always second guessing my shots,” described Chang on her game.  “But once I join the team I became a different person and it has improved my golf game so much from first year to second year.”

Coming in from Highlands High School where she picked up several accolades like Player of the Year, Chang’s first year competing in 2013 was plagued by non-serious injuries.

“I was in the training room a lot,” Chang said with a laugh. “I think it was all from tension from the golf game and getting into little accidents on the golf course.”

During the All-Conference MVP campaign for Chang, Silva said there was some strategy behind keeping Chang healthy while keeping her in the MVP race.

 “There were a few times her first year that we pulled her out,” said Silva.  “We were trying to be strategic and made sure she had enough room to stay MVP and to make sure she was physically ready to go for NorCal’s and State.”

The injuries didn’t affect Chang too much between the start of the season and October 3, as she tallied  four first place finishes in her first month of playing collegiate golf.

Then, on October 4, 2013, Chang made history at the Wildhawk Golf Course in Sacramento.

On the Par 72 course, Chang shot a five-under-par to finish with a score of 67; breaking the old Sierra individual score by two strokes that day.

“It meant a lot,It boosted my confidence level,” said Chang on setting the record.  “Before that I shot in the 80s and then I got to that score and my confidence level just boosted.  After that 67 people started recognizing me, it was pretty cool.”

That day too, the Wolverines golf team recorded the lowest score as a team with a combined score of 309.

Chang would pick up one more first-place finish in 2013, but missed the All-State Individual Team off a card off, finishing sixth at the State Championship November 18 and 19.

Chang’s sophomore campaign proved to be her break out year at Sierra.

In eight different events, Chang either shared or outright finished number one in tournaments, capped by a 69 score to start the 2014 season at the Desert Classic Invitational at Indian Canyon Golf Resort in Palm Springs.

In the NorCal Championships at Castle Oaks Golf Club in Ione, Chang finished in a three-way tie for second as she was named to the All-NorCal Team. 

At Morro Bay for the State Championship, Chang finished second with a 151 combined score in the two-day tournament, four strokes off the leader.  But she was named to the All-State Team in the process.

Her philosophy in 2014 was to focus on the here and now and not focus on something like a bogey.  Something she credits with her time at Sierra.

“Before I would put myself down and after Sierra, now I think of a bogey as something that I can make up in the next couple of holes,” Chang said.  “Which is what I definitely wanted to take over to Chico (State) because no one should ever get upset over a bogey.”

Silva looks at her work ethic and used the NorCals in 2013 as an example of what she can do as a golfer.

“At NorCals last year,” Silva started.  “She was in the 80s after the first day in NorCals and usually that means you’re probably not going to state.

“But she buckled down on the second day and she shot in the 70s and barely made it, but she made it and then almost made All-State because of that. 

The Criminal Justice major credits Chico State’s program as really good and points to the girls on the team and how Head Coach Nick Green recruited her.

“Most of the girls are all shooting in the low- to mid-70s,” said Chang.  “The coach has done a lot to help get me into the program.  He was the coach that was trying to get me on the team. 

“So I felt like I wanted to be on the team and everyone on the team is nice so I like it.”

She hopes that the experience at Chico will help her become a better golfer heading into the future.

“Most like play on the traveling team, which I will be and to hopefully take that on for the future golfer.  But I’m still deciding since it’s such a tough sport,” said Chang.

Looking back to her time at Sierra College, Chang looked back at some memorial moments as she  prepares to be a Wildcat.  From the car rides to shooting a 67 she’s enjoyed being a part of a Sierra team.

“I’ve really enjoyed being at Sierra my last two years, It’s just been beyond amazing,” said Chang.  “I’m really going to miss being on a Sierra team.

As she and Silva walked out to the carts at Whitney Oaks for practice, one thing is for certain; the future is bright for this up-and-coming golf star. 

 

 

 

"Eye of the Tiger": The Bryce Reichmann Story

 Bryce  Reichmann's 2015 Sierra College Baseball Picture.  Photo Credit-    David Blanchard

Bryce Reichmann's 2015 Sierra College Baseball Picture.  Photo Credit-  David Blanchard

By Jeremy McDonald

When you hear Survivors ‘Eye of The Tiger’, images may run of iconic scenes from the movie Rocky and the underdog Rocky Balboa overcoming adversity for a chance to live his dream boxing.

 Bryce Reichmann, the Roseville High School graduate and former Sierra College baseball pitcher, is living his version of Rocky through the ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

Let’s back track three years, to Reichmann’s junior year of high school when he was playing on a travel ball squad, playing in front of collegiate recruits.

This is when this college sophomore got discouraged of the sport he had played his whole life.

 “When I was out there,” said Reichmann.  “No one was really interested in me because I couldn’t hit 80 miles an hour and I got discouraged.  I remember coming back into the dugout one time and a coach told me, ‘Can you hit 80 miles an hour on the gun so I can try to sell you to a school’. 

“No one really wanted me there and I got discouraged with the sport and I just got burnt out.  So I took a year off and decided that baseball wasn’t going to be for me.

His senior year he worked at Baskin Robbins off of Foothill Blvd in Roseville and played water polo.

But during this time, he realized his passion was still there with baseball.

“While I was at Baskin Robbins, I really missed it and I wanted to get back into it,” said Reichmann.  “I went to a Crossfit gym got into really good shape. I played water polo that year, so I honestly say my senior year I was in the best shape of my life.”

He met up with pitching coach Dan Greenhalgh to get his pitching mechanics back to par, and Reichmann hit a ‘growth spurt’ of sorts in his pitching.

“When I got back into it, I started working with my pitching coach again, my velocity had jumped tremendously.”

Two months after he started throwing again, Reichmann was throwing 86, 88 and eventually hit the 90 miles an hour mark.

“It was just fun getting back into it,” he said.  “I didn’t realize what it was like to go without it until you experience it.  It gave me a better appreciation for the game.”

That’s when he arrived at Sierra College in Rocklin.

The preparation for the four year tested one’s senses at the junior college level.

“At the college level it’s a little different than the high school level,” said Reichmann.  “They can talk to you with a little bit more intensity at the college level, and really prepare you for the intense situation.

“When you’re out there it’s not just the coaches, it’s your peers, it’s everyone out there.  Everyone at Sierra wanted it more than anyone wanted it at high school.”

But the hard work would pay off.

By Reichmann’s sophomore season, he was 4-6 in 11 starts with 46 strikeouts and a 3.46 earn-run-average.

“He has gone from sort of a nobody his first semester to our ace by his sophomore season,” said Wolverines Head Coach Robert Willson.  “He did this by working hard and listening and learning our pitching philosophy. We have a very unique philosophy which is different from other teams.

“Sierra was just a great program out there and the coaches made me understand it more,” said Reichmann.  “Every level higher, I imagine people want it more, they’re all more dedicated to the sport.”

His hard work paid off, receiving an offer at NCAA Division-I St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

“When I gone to visit, the campus was really nice,” “It’s a smaller campus.  To be honest I might be going to a campus that’s smaller than Sierra.  It’s going to be different.”

St. Mary’s student body this year is 3,055.  Sierra College is at 18, 635 for their student body.

But that’s no big deal as Reichmann focuses on the task at hand to help out a Gaels team that went 28-27 in 2015.

“When I talked to the coaches, how they broke it down their program for me,” he said.  “They video tape your bullpen, they watch everything.  They have their weight room on the side; they have you run a lot. 

“That seems like a program that really would help me.”

 Eric Valenzuela and his coaching staff explained that every spot on the chart is open and that you have to come back and work hard for your spot every year.

“You got to come back and earn if you were a starter last year,” said Reichmann.  “Work hard at it and they see it in you, I could be a starter, I could fill in as a reliever…but if you give it all, only good can come out of it.”

But as any good athlete knows, the classroom is just as important as athletics.  For Reichmann, the business major reiterates the idea of being a Student-Athlete, knowing that athletics isn’t forever.

“Academics is basically everything,” “That’s what you’re going to school for. That’s your priority, school and I’m trying to do my hardest to get the best grades that I can. 

“When you get out of school, you don’t have anything to your name.  I could put down I play baseball and worked at Baskin Robbins my senior year, but the first thing they’ll see is where you came from and what your GPA is.  The higher GPA is, (it) shows your work ethic.”

Reichmann also added onto his belief that hard work in the classroom pays off in the real world and that A’s and B’s have a higher weight than C’s and D’s.

As finals wind down at Sierra College, the hopes are high for Reichmann as he reports for the prospect league in Illinois on Saturday, May 23 to play for the Danville Dans for two and a half months.

“The prospect league, St. Mary hooked me up with that,” “They provide such great learning experiences.  It’s going to be different going out there.”

Someone Reichmann was speaking with said that average attendance to games were about 1,800 people.

“I mean I never played in front of that,” said Reichmann with a laugh.  “It’s going to be a different experience.  You’re going to learn to be around that, you’re going to learn to make your pitches under that kind of pressure.”

It is something that Reichmann is ready to tackle.

In a matter of three years, Reichmann went from feeling discouraged about playing the sport he loved to working his way up to a Division-I College team.

Bryce Reichmann, a modern day Rocky Balboa.  A modern day ‘Eye of The Tiger’.

 

 

Sierra College's 'Signing Day' Festivities

 64 Student-Athlete's flood the Board Room in the Sierra College Library for Wednesday Event ( Jeremy McDonald-65 Sports)

64 Student-Athlete's flood the Board Room in the Sierra College Library for Wednesday Event (Jeremy McDonald-65 Sports)

By Jeremy McDonald

For 64 athletes that gathered in the Library Board Room at Sierra College Wednesday to being recognized for their commitments to four-year universities, first-year athletic Director Lucas Moosman said the message is clear about their student-athletes.

To see them succeed as individuals. 

“We’re here because we believe in the system," said Moosman. "That the college and what Sierra College provides for those student athletes and helping them building their lives athletically and academically.

“To see all those folks from our programs move on, that’s a special thing and it’s nice to see them all in one room.  We meet them individually, but to see them all together in one group, it puts it into focus on how special it is.”

For coaches, it's exciting to see their players going on to the next level.

“it feels really good,” said Wolverine head coach Ben Noonan.  “That’s the goal, it’s what Junior College is all about, it’s a stepping stone to move these guys on to the next level.”

Of 22 sophomores that Noonan had in the program last year, 19 received scholarships for the next level.

One of them is Austin Wyatt-Thayer, a San Diego State commit to play Linebacker for the Aztecs, had 80 tackles and one sack in eight games for Sierra during his sophomore campaign.

“It’s been something I’ve been looking forward to my whole life,” said Wyatt-Thayer.  “It’s been something I’ve been working towards putting in a lot of hard work.  It’s really exciting.”

As for Taylor Donnot, a Del Oro graduate, overcame some hurdles to get a scholarship to NCAA Division-II Dominican University in San Rafael crediting those around her for her success at Sierra.

“It’s more surreal than anything,” said Donnot.  “Now looking back, literally four years ago I never would’ve had thought 60 pounds heavier, 18 years old.  This has been an opportunity of a life time.

“The support from my coach and Matt (Folsom) and Nancy, the support team here is given me the faith in myself that it’s made me who I am.  It made me fight 100-percent, it’s just one thing after another that not just broke me down, but built me up.”

Donnot said her motivation for 2015 was former Wolverine basketball player Sasha Brown, who’s fight on the court motivated Donnot to play with a fiery passion that helped her get where she is today.

“It was not one thing that really brought it in for me,” she said.  “It was everything added up, that has made this experience the best experience of my life.”

All in all, the confidence that these young student-athletes will succeed at the next level. 

Below is the list of Sierra College student-athletes who are playing at the next level.  If you like to submit any corrections, let 65 Sports know at pc65sports@gmail.com!

Sierra College 2015 Scholarship Celebration Athlete List

Baseball High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  Stevin Cisneros Rocklin/Rocklin, CA Oklahoma Wesleyan

2.  Jake Cobb-Adams Kailua/Kailua, HI Lewis & Clark St.

3.  Kyle Colombini Galena/Reno, NV CSU Chico

4.  Kyle Dixon Woodcreek/Roseville, CA New Mexico St.

5.  Jake Faulkner Rocklin/Rocklin, CA Central Arkansas

6.  Michael Lawn Servite/Anaheim Hills, CA Nevada-Reno

7.  Kyle Lewis Bishop Manogue/Kings Beach, CA Long Beach St.

8.  Ethan Liddle Lincoln/Lincoln, CA Cal Poly SLO

9.  Tanner McVey Rocklin/ Rocklin, CA CSU Northridge

10.  Tyler Milani Woodcreek/Roseville, CA Central Arkansas

11.  Michael Moore Colfax/Colfax, CA Texas A&M, Texarkana

12.  Michael Phelan Bella Vista/Citrus Heights, CA Nevada-Reno

13.  Roland Pussich Nevada Union/Grass Valley, CA Sonoma St.

14.  Evan Ramirez Kahuku/ Punaluu, HI Texas A&M, Texarkana

15.  Bryce Reichmann Roseville/Roseville, CA St. Mary’s College

16.  Steve Rossi Alhambra/Martinez, CA Sonoma St.

17.  Bret Sundberg Del Campo/Carmichael, CA CSU Chico

Football High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  Dedric Allen Inderkum/Sacramento, CA Missouri Valley College

2.  Larry Baker-Bruce Jackson/Everett, WA Undecided (4 offers)

3.  Eddie Brown Inderkum/Sacramento, CA Undecided (2 offers)

4.  Anthony Beasley Franklin/Sacramento, CA Minnesota-Duluth

5.  Durant Foote Spanish Springs/Sparks, NV Sioux Falls (SD)

6.  Zack Graves Whitney/Rocklin, CA Univ. of Mary (ND)

7.  Conor Gray Placer/Auburn, CA Humboldt St.

8.  Leonard Hazewood Antelope/Antelope, CA Idaho

9.  Zachary Kuzens Douglas/Portland, OR Lynfield College (OR)

10.  Trevon Lampley Franklin/Elk Grove, CA Mayville St. (ND)

11. Nesly Ovincy Leonard/W. Palm Beach, FL Undecided (5 offers)

12.  Rickie Reynolds Grant/Vallejo, CA Glennville St. (OH)

13.  Conrad Tanyi Spanish Springs/Sparks, NV Undecided (6 offers)

14.  Austin Wyatt-Thayer Paradise/Paradise, CA San Diego St.

15.  Darian Thomas Coral Gables/Miami, FL Undecided (3 offers)

16.  Javon Tillman San Leandro/Oakland, CA Southeastern Louisiana

17.  Ernesto Torres Center/Antelope, CA Glennville St. (OH)

18.  Isaiah Walters McClymonds/Oakland, CA Undecided

19.  Jason Whitfield Pioneer/Woodland, CA Glennville St. (OH)

Men’s Basketball High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.     Isaiah Piniero Placer/Auburn, CA University of Portland

2.     Devin Moss Rocklin/Rocklin, CA  Cornell

 

Soccer High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1. Molly McConnell Whitney/Rocklin, CA Sacramento St.

Softball High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  Kaitlyn Garcia Casa Roble/Orangevale, CA CSU Monterey Bay

2.  Courtney Kelley Vintage/Napa, CA CSU Monterey Bay

3.  Taylor Martinez El Camino/Sacramento, CA CSU Monterey Bay

4.  Sydni Scott Vintage/Napa, CA Oregon Tech

5.  A.J. Tinoco Natomas/Natomas, CA Mayville St. (ND)

6.  Kasie Trezona Casa Roble/Orangevale, CA San Francisco St.

7.  Meghan Wantz Del Campo/Fair Oaks, CA BYU-Hawaii

Women’s Golf High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  April Chang Highlands/Antelope, CA CSU Chico

Women’s Aquatics High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  Gabrielle Avallone Ponderosa/Shingle Springs Nevada-Reno

2.  Lauren Cagle El Camino/Sacramento, CA Undecided (5 offers)

3.  Morgan Callahan Del Oro/Penryn, CA Sonoma St.

4.  Elizabeth Rodgers Bella Vista/Fair Oaks, CA San Jose St.

5.  Savannah Rose Liberty/Brentwood, CA CSU Bakersfield

Women’s Basketball High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  Aliya Davis Woodcreek/Everett, WA Undecided (3 offers)

2.  Taylor Donnot Del Oro/ Loomis, CA Dominican University

3.  Liz Gehweiler Woodcreek/Roseville, CA Undecided (2 offers)

4.  Ashley Jenkins Oroville/Oroville, CA Undecided (3 offers)

5.  Aaliyah Monroe McNair/Manteca, CA Undecided (2 offers)

6.  Megan Roberson Del Campo/Sacramento, CA Loyola Marymount

Wrestling High School/Hometown Four-Year School

1.  Oscar Flores  Cosumnes Oaks/Elk Grove, CA Southern Oregon


Sierra College Still Alive for Repeat

 Courtney Kelly (on base) preparing for the pitch.   (Jeremy McDonald- 65 Sports)

Courtney Kelly (on base) preparing for the pitch.  (Jeremy McDonald- 65 Sports)

By Jeremy McDonald

It's getting down to crunch time in the CCCAA NorCal Super Regional Playoffs.

Faced with elimination after dropping their first game, Sierra College softball proved why they were tough as Del Campo graduate Halie Howell's RBI single was the difference maker in the 1-0 victory Saturday evening .

"I was excited, I was so pumped," she said.  "I was so happy that Courtney scored.  I saw her score and I started clapping and I was really excited.

The game was a defensive sluggfest capped by strikeouts and amazing plays on defense by both teams.

Sierra's Howell had an inning killer from her center field position with a leaning forward catch in the top of the fourth.

But that was outdone by Cabrillo's Mikal Cuellar who ran from her left field position for a stretched out catch at center field in the next half inning.

"Defense was key," said Kelley.  "It was such a close game that one swing could've changed it."

In the fifth however, that swing came for the Wolverines offense started when Kelley singled.

A catcher interference call and a connection on a swing by Howell to shallow left field that scored Kelly.

"It was really important, it's we win or we're done," said Howell.  "To get that hit, it was really exciting."

Jordan Becker (of Bella Vista) reminded tough permitting a three-hitter a game in her complete game after her throwing a no-hitter Friday.

Her defense behind her finished strong after two errors against Consumes River College earlier in the day that resulted in a 11-3 loss to start the day.

"Jordan came out and held them, they only had three hits all game," said Wolverines head coach Darci Brownell. "We played them tight. I'm proud on how they hit and field.  

"They have a lot of fast kids on that team and we held them in check, I'm proud of how Jordan performed and how our defense performed."

Up next for Sierra is the team that put them in the Loser's Bracket in the first place.  Consumes River College.

Needing two wins to make it to the State Championship Final Four in Bakersfield the weekend of May 16, the strategy is to own the moment and relax.

"We just need to forget about it,: said Kelley."As our coach (Brownell) said, 'we need to find our swag' because a lot of us question it and you just need to own it.

For coach it's more of the same.

"Relax and play softball," said Brownell. "We need to just relax.  We've played this game for years, years and year, they've played the game on this field for eight months now just play.

"Win, lose or draw.  Just relax, have fun and play the game."

Sierra Softball dropped opening Game 11-3 TO CRC

 Sierra's Kaitlyn Garcia (far) throws to first.  Syndi Scott (near) runs towards first base.  ( Jeremy McDonald-65 Sports)

Sierra's Kaitlyn Garcia (far) throws to first.  Syndi Scott (near) runs towards first base.  (Jeremy McDonald-65 Sports)

By Jeremy McDonald

Consumes River College took the bat to the ball against Sierra College to start the CCCAA Super Regionals Playoffs Saturday en route to a 11-3, eight-run rule game to advance to the final game in the bracket.

Following Jordan Becker's no-hitter, the Wolverines wrestled with two errors in the first inning that resulted in a 3-1 advantage for the Hawks.

"When we got down there in the first inning," "Jordan (Becker) started the game well and those errors really took the steam out of it for us.

"I think CRC had 15 hits  and we made two major errors, that was the biggest difference in the game."

Sierra got runs in the sixth from a RBI double by Courtney Kelley and a RBI single by Kasie Trezona, but Consumes River proved too much with their bats as they pulled away. 

Becker No-Hits Shasta in Super Regional Opener

 Jordan Becker of Bella Vista pitched a Complete Game, 15 Strikeout No-Hitter Friday.  She also made 17 of games 21 outs ( Jeremy McDonald-65 Sports)

Jordan Becker of Bella Vista pitched a Complete Game, 15 Strikeout No-Hitter Friday.  She also made 17 of games 21 outs (Jeremy McDonald-65 Sports)

By Jeremy McDonald

Anything is possible in the playoffs.

For Jordan Becker, the sophomore from Bella Vista High School achieved something a few players can ever say they did in sports in Sierra College's 4-0 CCCAA Softball NorCal Super Regional opener versus Shasta College Friday afternoon.

Throw a no-hitter.

“I try not to think about it,” said Becker on the feat.  “But at the end it’s pretty cool.  The first one with Sierra.”

Through the first three innings, the Wolverines pitcher had struck out seven of nine Knight batters to start the game.

Her offense slowly gave her some breathing room as by Kasie Trezona (of Casa Roble) hit a RBI single in the third inning.

Lexi Wagoner (of Napa) also had an RBI hit in the fourth to go along with two runs off an error at first in the next at-bat and Sierra led 4-0 after four.

“I just went up to the plate looking to hit the ball through, getting on base and to score some runs to help my pitcher out," said Bailey Nordquist, who went 2-3 Friday, on the offensive output.

Brownell was impressed how her offense came along.

“We were slow to start,” said Wolverines head coach Darci Brownell. “(Jordan) was pushing very well and we needed to get our bats moving because you noticed that she was getting more relaxed and really turn it on and supported her offensively.”

Nordquist was the lone Sierra player with multiple hits Friday.

Through five innings, Becker had a perfect game in tact as she pushed double figures in strikeouts.  Despite her dominance, her defense behind her was ready to go.

“It was just making sure we were ready for every pitch,” said Nordquist.  “No matter where she was pitching, though she was dominant on the mound, we had to be ready to come to the ball and get the out.”

The perfect game would be broken with the first batter in the sixth, a 3-2 walk to Shasta's Marissa Duchi.

Becker would bring herself back however  and struck out the next two batters and got a groundout to first.

“I was bummed, but it was ok, I wasn’t going to let her get to second,” said Becker.  “I wanted to keep doing what I was doing.  I walked her but it was ok.

The sophomore would get strikeouts 14 and 15 of her 15 in the seventh and a flyout sealed and preserved the no-hitter.

“I just try not to think about it honestly, just keep doing what I was doing from the beginning,” said Becker. 

Of the 21 outs, Becker accounted for 17 of the games 21 outs, having grounded a groundout and caught a fly ball.

“We didn’t have to do much (today), Jordan did most of it,” said Brownell. “The key of it was the defense had to stay awake behind her in a situation like that because it was so  easy to go to sleep. “

Sierra will play again Saturday morning against the winner of the Consumnes River College/Cabrillo College game at noon at Sierra College.

But Brownell isn’t worried about her team reflecting too much on today’s feat.

“We’ve been in these tournaments before and tomorrow’s a new day and we’re going to sit here and watch these two teams because today’s game is over, we got to bring it tomorrow.”

SCORE LINE    1   2   3   4   5   6   7  -  T  H  E

SHASTA           0 0   0   0   0  0   0  -  0  0  1

SIERRA             0 0   1   3   0   0   0   -  4  7  0


Sierra's Freshman Scores Trifecta on Diamond

By Jeremy McDonald

It was a trifecta of sorts for Lexi Wagoner.

NFCA All-American, First Team All-State, and First Team All Big Eight for the second year freshman from Napa High School was a surprising feat to say the least.

“I was pretty shocked,” said Wagoner. “It was pretty cool to get all that but I couldn’t do that without my teammates definitely because they’ve thrown me live hitting almost every week and not a lot of hitters get that.”

In 2015, Wagoner is hitting .432, five homeruns, 38 RBIs and five stolen bases and has been playing out of position by playing in the outfield outside of her traditional third base and catcher positions.

“It was hard at first but I think it helped being athletic being able to make that change,” said Wagoner. “Getting a lot of practice out there because it is a big difference reading the ball off the bat than it is in the infield.

Despite all that, Sierra head coach Darci Brownell is impressed with her being successful in her new role in the outfield and being able to hit well; but most importantly, be an leader to her teammates.

“She’s definitely a leader,” said Brownell.  “Because she redshirted last year, she’s older than some of the kids.  She’s been through a lot, she’s been to state with us and she knows what it takes.”

Wagoner points to hard work, her coaches and practice that got her to be as successful this season.

 “I come early out a lot every day, just swinging in the cage,” said Wagoner.  “Getting reps out in the outfield, have coaches hit me fly balls.  So that is very important, getting a lot of extra practice in”

The goals for the rest of this season is simple as her Wolverines prepared for a big playoff weekend:  Win State.

“All of our team has been working hard,” said Wagoner.  “Just getting extra practice in, some people are coming out early.  It’s just nice to see that everyone’s coming out ready to step on some necks and go after it.”

On duplicating 2015 success for the future, Wagoner said the recipe is to stay calm, collective and playing relaxed.

“I’m not done, I have a lot more room that I can improve at,” she said.

But there is one thing you may not know about Lexi Wagoner.

Her love for The Little Mermaid.

“I love Disney movies,” Wagoner said. “I guess I’m a little kid at heart and most people don’t know about me.”

Just keep swimming Lexi, just keep swimming.

 

Sierra's Garcia Named to Academic All-American Team

 Casa Roble graduate and current Sierra College Softball Kaitlyn Garcia was named to the Academic All-American team this week.

Casa Roble graduate and current Sierra College Softball Kaitlyn Garcia was named to the Academic All-American team this week.

By Jeremy McDonald

Receiving an All-American award is an amazing feat by definition, but an Academic All-American? That's something else.

Current Sierra College student-athlete and Casa Roble graduate Kaitlyn Garcia has done just that by being named by the California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association to the Academic All-American team.

“I’m really excited for that and it shows that I worked so hard and that I’m able to accomplish something big like this,” said Garcia.  “I don’t know, it’s just nice to hear that I got that.”

Bolstering a 3.49 GPA and majoring in Kinesiology, Garcia defines the term ‘student-athlete’ in her opinion as being able to succeed off and on the field.

“Just someone who is very dedicated, hard working and that can show it in the classroom but also on the field,” described Garcia.

Head coach Darci Brownell says it’s what they are all about at Sierra

 “We really hope that they’re all Academic All-Americans,” said Brownell.    “That’s what we focus on the most, what they can do in the seats not as much as they do in the cleats.

“So it’s good that we got Kaitlyn as a Academic All-American, that’s what they all should strive for.”

Brownell also added that the message it sends is that academics are just as important as athletics.

“Kaitlyn is going to get a scholarship, and with her being an Academic All-American, she’s going to get more academic money and that’s going to help her family out,” said Brownell.

“That’s really going to set the bar high and that’s what it’s about academically.”

Like the classroom, Garcia has also succeeded on the softball field.

In 2014, Garcia received the California Community College Athletic Association Most Valuable Player award after going 2-3 and batting in three RBIs as part of the Wolverines rally to capture the State Championship title.

 “That was a big accomplishment right there,” Garcia said.  “The weekend before I got hit in the face at the Super Regionals and then coming back and saying ‘I’m not going to let this injury take the best of me, I want to come and finish'."

The injury itself, described Garcia, was just soft tissue damage.

In 2015, Garcia is a 4-2 pitcher with one save and holds a 1.75 ERA in 11 appearances on the mound.  From her third base position, the sophomore is batting .319 with 35 runs batted in for Sierra.

“Just keep with the same game plan,” said Garcia on her success. “Work hard give it my all during games and put everything out there.  Just act as a team and rely on everybody.”

The sophomore who plays like she’s six-feet-tall is still uncertain where she’ll be in the fall, but one thing is for certain.

She’ll give it her all.