The Sacramento State baseball coach was resigned to reality, however. The Hornets bowed out with a 1-2 showing in their first NCAA Division I Regional. Players were disappointed but encouraged. Christiansen was still stewing after a six-hour bus ride home from San Luis Obispo, and he spent a restless Sunday night tossing and turning.
“I need to try and find a way to enjoy it more,” Christiansen said Monday morning. “I am not very good at that. I’m already focused on recruiting and making sure next year’s team advances to a Super Regional.”
The Hornets may have to keep winning the Western Athletic Conference to reach the postseason. The WAC isn’t deep enough to advance more than the conference champion, unlike the Big West, which sent four teams, including Cal Poly. Christiansen embraces the challenge. He knows the Hornets were called “WAC State” as member schools were pulling for the green over the weekend.
Sac State seems primed to repeat its 40-victory season with a wealth of pitching returning, including starters Brennan Leitao, Sam Long, Justin Dillon and Jared Paderez, and school-record setting closer Sutter McLoughlin. Six mainstays in the lineup will be back in catcher Dane Fujinaka, infielders Brandon Hunley and Scotty Burcham, outfielders Nathan Lukes and Kyle Moses and designated hitter Chris Lewis. WAC Player of the Year Rhys Hoskins is eligible to return, though he could be drafted this week and face a tough decision. Add all of this with incoming freshmen recruited from the area and the Hornets have the makings of a budding powerhouse, with an endorsement from Cal Poly coach Larry Lee: “That program is going to take off.”
The All-City Preps Girls Coach of the Year is Pleasant Grove basketball coach James McKeever, who won the NorCal D-I championship. The Boys Coach of the Year is Christian Brothers soccer coach Jacob Hunley, who won a section title last fall (and with the girls last month). The All-City Preps Female Athlete of the Year is Roseville’s Lindsay Anderson, a three-sport star. The Male Athlete of the Year is Cosumnes Oaks’ Alex Van Dyke, a Bee All-Metro wide receiver and basketball forward and the school-record holder in the 400 meters.
The last Sac-Joaquin Section athlete to earn the Cal-Hi award was Matt Barnes of Del Campo, who in 1997-98 caught 27 touchdown passes and dominated in basketball. Reggie Rogers of since-closed Norte Del Rio was the winner in 1981-82. His older brother, Don, also from Norte Del Rio, was Cal-Hi’s first Grid-Hoops winner in 1979-80.
Former area stars who will compete include: Phillip Ricci of Galt, Zach Andrews of Cordova (both playing professionally in Japan) and graduated high school seniors.