June 26, 2008
Roots keeping it light at Optimist practice

Former Rio Linda and Hiram Johnson standout Houston Roots, who will play in Saturday's 52nd annual Optimist All-Star Football Game at American River College, says there has been plenty of good-natured trash talk going on between the players from the North and South teams.

"I'm been hearing from guys from Johnson, Christian Brothers and Franklin," said Roots, who will play at Sierra College in the fall. "MySpace, text-messaging, e-mail, cell phone. It's going back and forth. But it's all in fun."

There's much talk that the Roots and his defensive mates will have their hands full against South quarterbacks Cary Grossart of Folsom and Dominic Carmazzi of Jesuit, who are headed for Northern Arizona and Sacramento State, respectively, on scholarships.

"(North) Coach (Mike) Dimino said he heard someone say the South should spot us 21 points, that they are that much better because they have scholarship quarterbacks," Roots said. "But we'll be all right. We'll have some surprises of our own."


Inderkum's Greg Grimes is one of the most high-profile players on the North team.

But even though he already has a scholarship to Boise State, the 6-foot-1, 290-pound Grimes has been acting like a guy trying to battle his way into the starting lineup at North practices, according to coach Mike Dimino.

"He has been a terrific leader, a great teammate," Dimino said. "He's one of small group who hasn't missed a practice. He works hard, has a great attitude, and he's a force on the field."

While Grimes has wowed Dimino, South coach Kris Richardson has been impressed with 5-foot-11, 170-pound running back Greg Turner from River City.

"He has completely blown me away," Richardson said. "Most of the players I've either seen them or heard about them. But I didn't know anything about him, probably because he comes from a small school. But he's as good an athlete as we have out here."


North wide receiver Peyton Thompson of Granite Bay will report to San Jose State on Sunday, where he will play on scholarship this fall.

While a number of area players with college football scholarships have again bypassed the charity game, Thompson thinks they have made a mistake.

"It's my last high school game and a chance to compete against some of the best players in the area, guys you don't normally get to play against," Thompson said. "I don't see why you'd pass it up. Most people are going to red-shirt anyway when they get to college, so why not have some fun."

Kato Serwanga, whose younger brother Isaac is playing wide receiver and defensive back for the South team, seconds Thompson's comments.

The former Sacramento High standout who played at Cal and in the NFL said competing in the 1994 Optimist game remains one of the highlights of his football career.

He really doesn't like the thought of college coaches discouraging participation.

"Sadly I think that is a case of kids being outsourced more and more," Kato said. "Time goes so fast but as you get older you appreciate those moments more: It was a chance to play against the best in the city.

"(The Optimist Game) is a moment for the athletes to celebrate themselves and their accomplishments."

-Bill Paterson

June 24, 2008
Sports is a family affair for Jesuit's Isaac Serwanga

In addition to his mother Robina, Jesuit High School football and track star Isaac Serwanga had plenty of family role models while growing up Sacramento.

Brother James, 37, who played football at Sacramento High School and at Sierra College, works in corrections and spent countless hours helping to train Isaac.

"He was the loyal big brother," Robina said. "You might as well call him Isaac's counselor."

Identical twins Kato and Wasswa, 31, both played football in the Pac-10 and in the NFL, accomplishments Isaac came to appreciate later in life. Wasswa is now in banking; Kato just earned his master's degree in education from Cal.

"I started to understand that they were doing something special, and that it took a lot of hard work to get to where they were," said Isaac, who will play football and run track for Princeton. "I looked at their accomplishments, both in football and education, as inspiration and motivation."

Annette, 27, a soccer standout who plays in the Women's Premier Soccer League, is a teacher, trainer and soccer coach in the Bay Area and Irene, 20, a Christian Brothers graduate and outstanding soccer player in her own right, is a junior at St. Mary's College who is leaning toward social work.

"Soccer was a passion of mine when I was younger and I think (Annette) had something to do with that," Isaac said. "Growing up, I was very close to her."

Although Isaac eventually gravitated to football and track, Robina thought her youngest son was best suited for soccer and basketball. She thought Isaac might follow Wasswa to UCLA, but to play basketball.

She said that even though three or her older boys played football, she could barely watch Isaac play the sport as a first-time player his sophomore season at Jesuit.

"I thought he hadn't gained the weight to survive out there, and he was so good at soccer - he had such beautiful footwork," Robina said. "He also loved basketball so much and was such a graceful player. I was hoping he withdraw from football every time he played. I prayed for him so many times. I was the most excited when the season ended."

Although he still loves playing soccer and basketball, Isaac dropped soccer at Jesuit after his freshman year and didn't play basketball as a senior after being a member of the 2006-07 team that won the D-II section title and reached the CIF Northern California championship game.

"It was hard decision," Isaac said. "I love basketball and a couple of weeks ago I had a blast playing pick-up soccer with my brother (Kato) and sister (Annette) in Berkeley.

"But it just came down to the fact that I needed to focus on what is best for my future, and that's football and track."

-- Bill Paterson

June 24, 2008
Small roster brings big results for Bear River softball team

Coach Duane Zauner's Bear River High School girls softball teams have won 58 games and two Sac-Joaquin Section championships in the past two seasons.

So you'd figure that Zauner would have to break the news to a lot of girls early each spring that their isn't a spot on the team.

"We don't cut anybody," Zauner said. "Keeping kids involved in the program is a big challenge these days."

Zauner had 11 players on his varsity and just 12 on the junior varsity this season.

He says that there is plenty of competition from other spring sports at the school of 1,100 students, including swimming now that the campus has a new pool.

It hasn't helped that the area's youth recreation softball program has seen a steep decline in participation numbers.

"There are a lot skills involved in softball, so it's a tough sport to coach at the younger levels," Zauner said. "And if you haven't played entering high school, it's really a hard sport to pick up and have success with.

"Fortunately the players we have had have really been dedicated," he added. "We've built our program around those kids playing ASA ball."

Still, he said he lost a couple of juniors from last year's championship team because of other commitments as seniors.

"You tend to see a lot of younger kids playing at the varsity level in softball," said Zauner, who had five seniors on his team. "The girls don't tend to stay around unless they really love it."

- Bill Paterson

June 23, 2008
North coach has been big part of Optimist tradition

If there is someone who understands how big the Optimist All-Star Football Game used to be, it's Mike Dimino of Del Campo.

Dimino is the North coach for the 52nd annual game to be played Saturday at American River College.

Dimino, a 1977 Mira Loma graduate who played football for the Matadors, attended many of the games through the years.

He was a ballboy for the 1970 game at Hughes Stadium that featured the Sacramento Valley stars against the San Joaquin Valley Stars. Dimino's father, Jim, along with Hal Athon, were the coaches for the Sacramento team that won 28-15 in front of a crowd of more than 15,000.

"It used to be huge," Dimino said. "Back then I remember, the players would practice at UC Davis and were housed in the dorms."

Dimino said one of the most memorable games was in 1975 when future NFL tight end Joe Rose from Marysville set a still-standing Optimist record 183 receiving yards in the Northern California team's 42-8 win over the Sacramento County stars.

"I thought that was an incredible accomplishment," Dimino said.

This is Dimino's third time coaching in the game. He was the North coach in 2001 when he was at Hiram Johnson and was the defensive coordinator the next season for North coach and longtime friend and former Mira Loma teammate Terry Stark, who was at Natomas at the time.

That game ended tied 29-29.

That contest also produced the last 10,000-plus crowd in the history of the charity event that has seen a steady decline in attendance as more and more of the top graduated seniors have bowed out of the game.

"It's an honor to coach in this game because it's such a Sacramento tradition," Dimino said. "I'm just hoping that we can keep it going because it's extra special."

- Bill Paterson

June 20, 2008
Coach boasts of strong Optimist roster

Despite several four-year scholarship players passing on the 52nd annual Optimist All-Star Football Game June 28 at American River College, South coach Kris Richardson of Folsom said the level of talent on his roster remains mind-boggling.

"There is plenty of D-I talent out here," Richardson said. "It's just that for whatever reason, primarily grades, a lot of those kids are going the JC route."

Richardson points to 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle Marquis Taylor from Florin as a player with major-college talent who will make Sacramento City College his next stop.

Richardson said Taylor gave his Bulldogs fits when they played the Panthers in the Delta River League.

"He's as good a defensive lineman as there is out there," Richardson said. "He's huge, strong and lightning quick. Granted, we've only practiced two days and without pads but we haven't been able to block him yet.

"We have a lot of players like Marquis who are looking for an opportunity to show what they can do and to have some fun."

Of Richardson's 38-player roster announced last weekend, he said only Cordova's Joaquin Orejel, a defensive back, has bowed out. Orejel, a New Mexico Highlands recruit, is being replaced by Union Mine defensive back Chris Kordakis.

- Bill Paterson

June 19, 2008
Mira Loma fills basketball coaching vacancies

Mira Loma High School has chosen two longtime assistants to lead its varsity basketball teams, hiring Marcus Bray to coach boys and Don Moser for the girls.

Athletic director Doug Friedman announced the hirings today.

Bray began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Christian Brothers. He then went to Rio Americano for three years as an assistant and most recently was junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach at Franklin High in Elk Grove.

Moser has coached for four years at Natomas as an assistant under Derek Swafford, currently Sacramento High's boys coach, and has been an assistant for the Sacramento City College women's team since 1996.

"We're very excited about both the hires," Friedman said. "We think they're two guys that can move us forward in both our programs."

- Joe LaBriola

June 18, 2008
Capital Christian's AD steps down

Scott Sorgea, who helped turn Capital Christian into more than a basketball school, stepped down as athletic director earlier this week.

Sorgea said the long hours spent building a formidable small-school program during the past eight years have taken a huge amount of time and a toll on his family that includes children ages 8, 7 and 4.

"As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision for me," Sorgea said in an e-mail. "I never thought I would leave Capital Christian. I graduated from CCHS in '82 and have worked here off and on since my first assistant coaching job in 1983. My dad was AD here for a good part of the '80s and '90s.

He said Suzanne Baker, the girls AD and girls basketball coach, has been hired to take his place.

"I couldn't be happier," he said. "She will do a magnificent job as AD."

Sorgea has a new job as program director at a Rocklin sports facility called Hardwood Palace.

- Bill Paterson

June 17, 2008
Clayton Jack, first Bee honoree, gets worldwide wrestling workout

Clayton Jack, The Bee's inaugural Male Athlete of the Year in 2006-2007, is about to get a worldly view of his considerable athletic skills.

The Vacaville High School graduate, who in 2006-2007 helped the Bulldogs to their first state championship in wrestling and first section title in football as a senior, will represent the United States in the Junior World Freestyle Wrestling Championships July 29-Aug. 3 in Istanbul, Turkey.

The tournament brings together the globe's best wrestlers, ages 18 to 20.

"This is where my eyes will be opened up," said Jack, who will be a sophomore this fall at Oregon State. "I'm going to the best of my abilities ... represent the USA."

Jack qualified in the 120-kilogram weight class (264 pounds) by beating Ben Berhow of the University Minnesota in two out of three matches at the Junior World Freestyle trials in May at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Jack said he thinks the experience in Turkey will be invaluable in his bid to one day represent the U.S. at the Olympics.

Before heading to Turkey, he will train for several days at the Olympic Training Center and expects to get some mat time against Steve Mocco, the U.S. Olympic Team heavyweight, and Nebraska-Kearney's Tervel Dlagnev, the NCAA Division II national champion and U.S. representative for the World University Championships (age 26 and under) July 9-13 in Greece.

Jack redshirted this season at Oregon State and watched the Beavers finish a mediocre 10-8 after going 17-2 and winning the Pac-10 the season before.

"I think I was good enough to compete at that level, but I really liked red-shirting," he said. "I think it gave me a chance to understand what it's like to be a college wrestler."

His goals are to win an NCAA individual national title and to be part of a national championship team.

"We had a really good class of freshmen last year, and our upcoming recruiting class is good, too," Jack said. "So the future is bright, so long as we do our work."

Jack was selected for The Bee's All-Metro first-team as a Vacaville senior and was named Monticello Empire League Lineman of the Year in football.

But the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Jack said he didn't yearn to step onto the football field while watching the Beavers last fall in Corvallis, although he hasn't ruled out returning to the sport once his wrestling career winds down.

"Football was a real fun sport," Jack said. "But I'm happy where I'm at with my wrestling and proud of the choice I made."

- Bill Paterson

June 13, 2008
State poll likes D-III Yuba City over D-I Jesuit

Unlike The Bee's final baseball poll where Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion Jesuit overtook D-III titlist Yuba City for the No. 1 spot, the Honkers finished ahead of the Marauders in the final Cal-Hi Sports' Top 50 state rankings.

Yuba City (29-3) placed No. 11 and Jesuit (27-7) No. 12. Bella Vista (25-3) was 42nd.

Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (27-4), the CIF Southern Section D-IV champion, finished No. 1.

In Cal-Hi's divisional rankings, Jesuit was No. 9 in Division I; Yuba City No. 3, Bella Vista No. 11 and Ponderosa No. 20 in D-II; Capital Christian No. 7 in D-IV; and Valley Christian Academy of Roseville No. 4 and Delta No. 6 in D-V.

- Bill Paterson

June 12, 2008
Good-natured chatter isn't always endearing

Suavae Cook's flamboyant personality and overall baseball talent has made him one of Yolo Post 77 Senior American Legion's most popular players this spring.

But Dennis Huitt, who coached Cook in baseball at Esparto High School, said the Spartans' three-sport standout probably was one of the most misunderstood athletes in the Mid-Valley League South the past two seasons.

"Suavae is a great, great individual with a lot of charisma," Huitt said.

But Suavae's boisterous personality rubbed some people the wrong way in the small-town North Section league.

"He didn't trash talk," Huitt said. "But he liked to chatter all the time. He'd be running up the court during a basketball game and talk to the other player all the way up.

"There were some people who thought he was arrogant and didn't like him. I think he got a bad shake."

Huitt remembers one baseball game with his team leading a league rival 3-1 when Cook unsuccessfully tried to steal home.

"The coach came up to me afterwards and accused us of being bad sports," Huitt said. "He thought we shouldn't try to do something like that with a two-run lead."

Huitt isn't sure if the coach would have said anything if it wasn't the aggressive Cook trying to pull off the deed.

"There was a lot of jealousy (about Suavae) among some of the coaches," he said.

Read more about Suavae Cook in The Bee on Friday.

- Bill Paterson

June 10, 2008
Massari picked to coach Sac High girls basketball

Michelle Massari has been named the new girls basketball coach at Sacramento High School, athletic director Justin Gatlin announced this afternoon.

Massari emerged from a pool of 16 candidates and inherits a program that has enjoyed its best success in recent years. The Dragons went 26-3 last season under coach Pam McGee, who resigned after one season to help her son, JaVale McGee, prepare for the NBA draft.

"I'm so excited," Massari said.

Massari was a point guard for championship teams at Nevada Union in the mid-1990s. She was an assistant coach for five seasons - 2002 to 2007 - at UC Davis and an assistant at El Camino last season.

Sacramento will return key players Erica Barnes and Quanisha Turner next season. Some area coaches deem the Dragons a program on the verge of national prominence, similar to St. Mary's of Stockton and Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco, teams that beat Sacramento in the playoffs.

- Joe Davidson

June 10, 2008
Area softball teams crowd state Top 50

The Sacramento area has a rich history in baseball. But it is building a solid reputation in girls' high school softball. The local area has seven teams ranked in Cal-Hi Sports Final State Top 50.

Headlining the list is top-ranked Sheldon (32-2), also ranked fourth nationally by USA Today. Elk Grove, which lost to Sheldon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game, is 10th. Fairfield (24-7) is 25th, Napa (26-6) 30th and Franklin (24-5) 31st. Bear River (29-3), which won the D-IV section title, is 34th, followed by D-II section champion Oak Ridge (24-6-1), 41st.

So what's the point? Girls softball no longer is dominated by Southern California schools. Northern California has a bunch off top-notch teams, too.

- Quwan Spears

June 9, 2008
Golden West doesn't match state meet intensity

The Golden West Invitation remains a quality track and field event.

Saturday's 49th edition of the event drew some of the top athletes from throughout the country, including three-time 3,200 girls California state meet champion Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep High School in San Luis Obispo, and D'Angelo Cherry of Mt. Zion in Jonesboro, Ga., who set a meet record with a national-best time (10:16) in the boys 100. He has a scholarship to Mississippi State.

Still, the event lacked the intensity and emotion displayed at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Cerritos.

That leads to a question: Is the GWI anticlimactic after the state meet?

"It's just a different atmosphere," said Granite Bay's Aaron Burney, who earned second in the boys 110 hurdles (13.95) at the GWI and finished seventh at the state meet. (14.40). "I guess I was more relaxed and that helped me to just run my race. At the state meet, it's more people there and people are really into it. Here (talking about the GWI), the crowd is more laid back, the athletes are laid back, making everything laid back."

- Quwan Spears

June 9, 2008
Sac talent represents in showdown with the Bay

At about the time people were mumbling that maybe the Bay Area basketball talent pool was too deep and too good for those up north, the Sacramento boys altered the thinking in the third annual gathering of prep all-stars.

In the nightcap of the Sacramento vs. Bay Area Showdown, the Sacramento Upper-class team rallied to stun the Bay graduated seniors 115-114, stopping a four-game Bay sweep at Newark Memorial High School.

Swingman Julian Welch of Franklin scored 27 of his 29 points in the second half and had two three-pointers, a long two and two free throws down the stretch to lead the way and earn MVP honors in front of an overflow crowd. The Bay team built a 72-49 lead with just under 18 minutes to play (20 minute halves) before Welch led the comeback.

Sac had balanced scoring with Milos Milosevic of Oakmont scoring 13, Rio Americano's Drake Uu 12 (with six rebounds), El Camino's Kyle Baxter 12 (and seven rebounds), Natomas' Jovan Daniels 12 and Marysville's Keenan Prince 11. The Bay was too athletic early then tuckered out as a group. Welch certainly seemed to help his recruiting status here. College coaches were not allowed to watch the game, per NCAA rules, but has anyone heard of YouTube? Coaches know it well.

The Bay rolled in the Sac-Bay Under-class game 114-84 in showing that it was more athletic and more accurate from the start. Former Kings coach Eric Musselman coached the Bay - his first coaching experience with high school students.

"Great experience, great kids - all eager to learn," Musselman said.

Chase Tapley - The Bee's2007 Player of the Year from Sacramento - had 14 points for Sac. Teammates included Marcus Jackson of Sheldon, Adam Eackles of Woodland, Kyle Odister of Rio Americano, Ra'Shaun Brooks and Xavier Thames of Pleasant Grove and Cody Kale of Rocklin.

The Bay Under-class girls beat Sac 90-67 despite 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots from Sacramento's Kyra Dunn and 12 points from Oak Ridge's Sara James.

The Bay Upper-class girls beat Sac 75-68. Bee Player of the Year Brittany Woodard of Christian Brothers had 12 points and eight rebounds.

- Joe Davidson

June 9, 2008
Little time off in Stassi's summer

Max Stassi will have another busy summer vacation.

The Yuba City High School star, The Bee's Baseball Player of the Year, will spend much of June, July and August far from home.

It all begins this weekend with the Perfect Game USA National Showcase, which brings together 100 of the nation's leading high school players, at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Stassi will go from Minnesota to USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars, running Monday through June 23 at the National Training Complex in Cary, Ga. About 160 players will be involved, looking to make the 40-member USA Under-18 National Team trials squad that will compete July 10-17 in Phoenix, Ariz.

At the trials, a 20-man team will be selected to compete for the United States in the International Baseball Federation's World AAA Junior Championships July 24-Aug. 3 in Edmonton, Alberta.

While there are no guarantees Stassi will make that team, his experience as a two-time U-16 national team member no doubt will help his cause.

Last summer, Stassi, Elk Grove's Justin Charles and Vanden's Andrew Alpin, were members of the USA's World Youth Games gold-medal winning team that competed in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

"To be one of 18 guys to represent my country was an amazing experience," Stassi said. "So I'm going to be working real hard to make this year's team."

Although selections won't be announced until June 30, Stassi is believed to be among the 36 players who will be invited to play in the Aflac All-America Baseball Classic in mid-August at Dodger Stadium.

Stassi also will play in the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game on Aug. 17 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Stassi says all the travel is worth it.

"It's a great experience," he said. "I like the level of competition. Playing at home is fun, but you are pretty much playing the same guys over and over. This is a chance to see a lot of different guys, different pitching."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Stassi said the national exposure is important, especially for someone who lacks the prototypical size scouts generally seek.

"I know I need to make the most out of my ability because of my size," Stassi said. "The genetics aren't in my favor. I'm probably going to be no taller than 6-feet or 6-1. So I'm constantly working on quickness and strength."

- Bill Paterson

June 9, 2008
Girls make state track stage their own

The CIF State Track and Field championships at Cerritos College on May 30-31 featured stellar performances by a couple of girls.

First, senior Christine Babcock of Woodbridge in Irvine set a new National Federation High School record in the girls 1,600. Babcock's 4:33.82 smashed the previous national mark of 4:38.15 set by Alex Kosinski of Oak Ridge last year. Babcock also won her third straight title in the event.

Junior Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo ran the 3,200 in 9 minutes, 52.13 seconds and completed an unbeaten season, winning her third consecutive state title at that distance.

Not only did Hasay beat Laurynne Chetelat (9:52.51) of Davis in a thriller, but she also set a new state meet record, breaking the previous mark of 9:52.80 set by Kim Mortensen of Thousand Oaks in 1996.

Babcock and Chetelat became the 22nd and 23rd girls with three state titles and will go down in history as two of the state's all-time greats.

The Sacramento area, however, has another great one on the record. Her name is Lindsay Hyatt, and from 1996 to 1999, the Placer High standout won the girls 800 meters and is one of 15 girls athletes to win four or more consecutive state titles.

Babcock's high school career is done. She will run at Washington next season. So we will have to wait until next year to see if Hasay can join Hyatt in the four-plus championship club.

-Quwan Spears.

June 7, 2008
Ponderosa needed no motivation for success

In enjoying their best year of sports in Ponderosa High School history - 10 Sierra Valley Conference championship banners and four section title - the Bruins were sparked by the leadership of a strong senior class.

"We have good athletes up and down the classes, but this absolutely was a good senior class," said Ponderosa athletic director and wrestling coach Tyson Escobar. "It was a very focused group. The senior class had a lot of good leaders."

One thing that was encouraged, Escobar said, was sharing athletes, especially those with natural leadership abilities, encouraging them to play more than one sport.

Ponderosa male Athletes of the Year Taylor Wilkinson and Rhett Beal excelled in multiple sports. Wilkinson starred in football and baseball, Beal in soccer, basketball and golf.

"We're really pushing that playing of multiple sports," Escobar said.

Baseball co-coach Eric January said there was no need for speeches or other motivational tactics to get his section championship team, which included 11 seniors, ready to compete.

"When you coach this long (since 1997), you have teams that underachieve and you have teams that overachieve," January said. "A lot of this game is from the neck up. Sometimes you try the milk and cookies approach and sometimes you use the drill sergeant approach."

But this year's baseball group needed neither.

"They really bought into the whole team concept," January said. "I think those that played football like Wilkinson really understood the concept of team and brought that to our program."

- Bill Paterson

June 6, 2008
Guy Anderson remains baseball Optimist

Times may have changed, but veteran Cordova High School coach Guy Anderson still gets excited about participating in the annual Optimist All-Star baseball game.

One of the nation's winningest coaches will lead the South team in the large-school game that follows today's 4:30 North-South small-school opener at American River College.

Anderson is making his sixth Optimist game appearance as either a head or assistant coach.

"In all my years of coaching baseball, over 40, this has been a top classic in the Sacramento area, and players selected to play should feel honored," he wrote in an e-mail he sent to make sure we hadn't forgotten the event.

"I'm disappointed at the number of players that will miss this opportunity for reasons such as senior trips, vacations and summer-ball schedules," he wrote.

As Anderson points out, many players who have participated in the game have gone on to Major League Baseball careers.

- Bill Paterson

June 6, 2008
Former McClatchy star is drafted by Phillies

The tradition continues at McClatchy High School.

Vance Worley is on the verge of playing professional baseball now, becoming a third-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the major-league baseball draft on Wednesday.

Worley, a Long Beach State junior, was the area's highest pick this year.

The right-handed pitcher graduated from McClatchy in 2005, the same year he was chosen for The Bee's All-Metro first team after striking out 102 batters in just over 53 innings. His 95 mph fastball makes pro scouts stare and makes his ultimate destination - the big leagues - a possibility.

The right-hander is listed as 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. According to the official Long Beach State Web site, Worley in 2008 was 7-4 with a 4.27 ERA. He had three complete games and 70 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched.

McClatchy alumni who have reached varying degrees of major-league fame include Larry Bowa, Rowland Office, Dion James, Nick Johnson and most recently Giants catcher Steve Holm.

Interesting side note about Worley is he had no visions of pitching while growing up. He loved to play shortstop, and his high school coaches pleaded for him to take the mound. As a senior, he struck out 16 batters against Rocklin and 12 against Yuba City. Baseball America magazine called Worley the "premier pitching prospect in Northern California" that spring. But a sore arm scared scouts, and he was drafted in the 19th round by the Phillies.

The arm is live in every regard now.

- Joe Davidson

June 5, 2008
Low draft position belies Mooneyham's talent and character

The most impressive thing about Brett Mooneyham, chosen in the seventh round of Thursday's baseball draft, from my view last Friday night wasn't his size - he's 6-foot-5, 245 pounds - nor the left-hander's fastball the raced off the mound like a missile.

Neither was it how the Buhach Colony senior struck out 10 Jesuit batters - including five in a row - in Game 1 of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I baseball championship series; or his upside that had major-league scouts flocking to Atwater armed with radar guns all season.

Instead, it was how the senior handled himself after the game, a 5-2 loss for his team.

Mooneyham walked seven and gave up some towering extra-base hits to Jesuit's heavy hitters in Andrew Susac and Dan Hayes. But in defeat, there was no anger, no finger-pointing. It was a game, he said. He wasn't sharp, and he paid for it.

Mooneyham spoke to family and friends for a good 40 minutes after the final pitch, disappointed with his outing but not his effort, or that of his Thunder teammates. His father, Bill, was a first-round pick by the California Angels in 1980 and pitched briefly with the A's in 1986. Pops provides invaluable insight.

The younger Mooneyham sees the big picture quite clearly, too. He's a Stanford recruit, and Thursday he was picked by the San Diego Padres. The big picture includes the business side of things. Mooneyham is being advised by baseball super agent Scott Boras, the Elk Grove product who makes major-league teams flinch and frown.

One reason Mooneyham was picked so low, perhaps, is because he likes Stanford and teams don't like dealing with Boras. Mooneyham was projected by some online publications to go as high as the bottom of the first round. Regardless, expect to see him around for a long while.

- Joe Davidson

June 5, 2008
Small-school player gives big-time performance

Optimist All-Star softball game organizer Joe Duarte said a few coaches rolled their eyes when Mica Romero from tiny Woodland Christian was selected to play for the South team.

Several major college recruits played in the May 28 game at Capital Christian High School, and some coaches wondered if Romero's .624 average and 21-3 pitching record were legit, considering that the numbers accumulated largely against small-school opponents.

But the senior wound up as the South Optimist MVP. Her two-run, second-inning home run enabled the South to tie the North 3-3 in nine innings. Duarte said it was only the second game to end in a tie since the event started in 1978.

"One of the originally skeptical coaches said to me afterwards, 'Shows you what I know,' " Duarte said.

Romero, who went 2-for-2 in the game while playing second base, will play shortstop next season at Willamette University in Salem, Ore.

- Bill Paterson

June 4, 2008
Draft downer

It will not be a banner draft for the local high school baseball player this week. Far from it. The phones will be quiet.

Sacramento City College coach Andy McKay said a local prep might not get drafted at all. Greg Orr, longtime Yankees scout from Sacramento, said it's a down year for Northern California in general, and he said it has been a particularly down decade for the Sacramento city schools such as McClatchy, Sacramento, Johnson. Same with the city schools in Stockton and San Francisco, Orr said.

"A lot of that has to do with economics, and it costs to play this sport - bats, gloves, equipment - and a lot of city kids just don't have that sort of money," Orr said. "And you can see that baseball is doing fine in the suburbs."

Looking ahead, the 2009 draft could be memorable for this area. Some of the region's top players are underclassmen, including catcher Max Stassi of Yuba City (verbal commitment to UCLA) and the Jesuit duo of infielder Dan Hayes (Oregon State) and catcher Andrew Susac (Oregon State).

- Joe Davidson

June 3, 2008
A season of many delights for Jesuit

It was a memorable spring fling for Jesuit High School.

The Marauders stormed through the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason by land and by sea - OK, by water, at least.

For good measure, Jesuit won the single-school U.S. High School National Championship Rugby Championships on Saturday. It accomplished that feat at about the same time the baseball team headed by anchors Jimmy Bosco, Andrew Susac, Dan Hayes, Brock Simon and Martin Agosta won the baseball title.

Jon Leopold led the swimming team to the championship as a warm-up to his scholarship water polo career at USC. Nick Andrews overcame a slow start to the season with an injury to win his fourth consecutive singles section title in tennis - while also powering the Marauders to another team title. Golf reached the NorCal tournament. Track fielded some ace sprinters to go with a deep team.

And most impressive? Theses Jesuit teams return a wealth of talent. More titles loom.

- Joe Davidson

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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