Davis High School baseball coach Dan Ariola greeted a visitor in his dugout before last Friday afternoon's game against Elk Grove, his team's biggest outing of the spring.
Ariola asked, "Guess who stopped by last week for a pep talk? Greatest athlete in school history."
It couldn't have been Marc Hicks, the nation's top recruit at tailback in 1984, since he's at every Davis game to watch his son, C.K. Hicks, run the bases.
The answer was Denise Curry, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer who played girls basketball at Davis in the mid-1970s. She is UCLA's all-time scoring leader for men and women and won Olympic gold in 1984 before being named the French Player of the Decade for the 1980s.
Recently inducted into the Northern California Hall of Fame, Curry regularly visits Ariola, a former neighbor who played basketball at Davis in the late 1970s when Curry's father was the boys coach.
"Such a great experience," Ariola said of Curry's pep talk and visit.
He's also praising his resurgent Blue Devils.
Davis (12-5) lost four of five games in March, prompting Ariola to tweak his lineup and implore better defense.
It's working. The No. 4 Blue Devils are 5-0 in the Delta Valley Conference, including Friday's 2-1 home victory over previous No. 1 Elk Grove.
Starting pitcher Matt Trask shut down a prolific lineup, and his infield hit in the seventh inning scored Joe Murray to prompt a mob scene.
The Blue Devils are led by seniors Murray (a team-high .400 batting average), one of the region's top second basemen; catcher Hayden Duer (.310); and reliever Jake Miille, who in 10 appearances has struck out 17, walked one and allowed one run.
Junior contributors include pinch-running ace Hicks, Trask (4-1, 0.68 ERA) and outfielder John Ariola (.340), the coach's son. Freshman shortstop Ryan Kreidler leads Davis with 13 RBIs.
Rankings shuffle So, how to sort the rankings?
It's Granite Bay's turn at the top, having won five consecutive games, including a three-game sweep of previous No. 18 Roseville to open defense of its Sierra Foothill League championship.
The Grizzlies also have nonleague victories over No. 11 Franklin (5-2), No. 5 Pleasant Grove (2-0) and No. 10 Oak Ridge (8-1).
Elk Grove drops to No. 2, and previous No. 2 Jesuit slips a spot after losing to Oak Ridge 7-2, then beating the Trojans twice and falling to once-beaten Lincoln of Stockton 5-4. Jesuit remains ahead of Davis by virtue of its 8-2 win over the Blue Devils.
Fifth-ranked Pleasant Grove went 3-0 in Delta River League play before falling to national No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana 8-0 in the final of the Boras Baseball Classic.
The Eagles began Delta River League play with a three-game sweep of Sheldon.
Pleasant Grove beat Elk Grove 11-1 in the Boras North final with an eight-run seventh inning, but dropping the Thundering Herd below the Eagles seems extreme, given the schedule.
Golden ace Keith Heyer has tossed three shutouts for Del Oro this season, topping himself with each effort.
The Golden Eagles senior no-hit Colfax, now ranked No. 17, with a 2-0, nine-strikeout effort in his season opener. He beat Valley Christian 1-0 (eight strikeouts) and last Saturday defeated No. 8 Woodcreek 3-0 on a seven-strikeout one-hitter.
Heyer and his teammates believed it was a no-hitter, but a short hop that could not be gloved was changed from an error to a hit.
Nogo time Woodcreek's Stephen Nogosek (3-0, 1.45 ERA) starts today against Roseville, a week after he beat Del Oro 3-0 with a 12-strikeout, one-hit effort. He struck out 15 to beat River Valley 3-0 with a one-hitter March 19.