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Hometown Report: Cosumnes River is polishing up a gem of a diamond

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:06 pm

The hybrid Bermuda grass is more grayish brown than the anticipated lush green.

The scoreboard numbers flicker. The obstructive planter boxes need to be removed. All in all, the new Cosumnes River College baseball field has the look and promise of a fine facility.

It sure beats the digs from last year. To be specific, the 2012 Hawks had no home. Not even a home plate.

CRC held every practice and played every game away from the South Sacramento campus yet won the state championship.

CRC's 2012 title banner hangs on its new outfield fence.

"It's so neat to have this here," CRC dean of athletics Liz Belyea said, admiring the grounds. "The scoreboard will work. Once it gets warmer, the grass will get greener. The planter boxes (next to the stands) will be taken out to add more seats. But we love it. Very happy."

There also have been discussions to add lights, all the more to showcase the baseball and similarly new softball field. Nearby, there are three new soccer fields, all courtesy of Los Rios Community College District bond money that for years was earmarked for such campus upgrades.

CRC's 49,000-square-foot gymnasium, opened in 2000, will host the California Community College State Basketball Championships for a second consecutive year next month. CRC plans to host state soccer championships as well as softball and baseball regional events and high school events.

"CRC using this isn't enough," Hawks baseball coach Tony Bloomfield said. "It needs to be used all the time. It'll be beautiful once we get it all going."

Remembering Conway

The CRC field remains named in honor of Jerry Conway, who founded the baseball program in 1972 and guided the program until health issues forced him out in 1980. His 1973 team was the first CRC program to win a conference championship. He died from cancer in 1985.

Conway's widow, Dorothy Conway-Shoemaker, threw out the first pitch to open the CRC stadium Friday. She was escorted to the mound by Mike Fischlin, a CRC Hall of Famer who played for Conway in 1975 and for four major league teams. Conway's brother Ron gave a moving acceptance speech.

"I learned more from Jerry than I did from anyone in the pros," said Fischlin, an Elk Grove High School graduate.

Remembering Sweeney

Jim Sweeney was recalled over the weekend by scores of players and coaches. The former Fresno State football coach (1980-96) died Friday night at 83.

Sweeney coached at Washington State in the 1970s, recruiting Eason Ramson out of Christian Brothers to play tight end. Sweeney told the Seattle Times in 2010 about his WSU tenure: "They gave me a lifetime contract. After that (1975 loss to Washington), they had me declared dead."

Sweeney recruited and mentored Malcolm Seabron – now Malcolm Floyd – out of McClatchy to play wide receiver in 1990. Floyd, who coached at McClatchy in recent seasons, credits Sweeney for his inspiration to give back to students.

Sweeney also formed a friendship and somewhat of a partnership with John Volek, who coached at Fresno City College in the early 1990s. Volek later headed the Sacramento State program.

When Steve Mooshagian played for Sweeney in the 1980s, he dreamed about playing in the NFL. Sweeney barked, "You'll be a coach, so start focusing on that."

Mooshagian succeeded Volek at Sac State and now heads the football program at Ventura College.

"Jim Sweeney was a great man and a great coach," Volek said.

A public memorial will be held at Fresno State on Saturday.

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