Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Sarah Fukushima Watch: 13 Home Runs and counting

She’s stands only about five-foot, six-inches tall. But, when she swings a softball bat you swear you can feel the breeze coming off the aluminum.

And, when Sarah Fukushima makes contact you hear it. It’s that thud that is different, plus the result is evident. It goes a long way and in a hurry.

She is softball’s current-day equivalent to baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. When the Puck hit the ball it flew off his bat. That’s what it is like when Sarah strikes a pitch.

Fukushima has hit four homers in Sheldon High School’s last two games, both quality opponents Davis and Oak Ridge. And, with the pair of dingers Friday she’s tied the school record of 13 in a single season set in 2011 by another girl who had a lively bat, Danielle Henderson.

Add to the power numbers, included in that a 1.333 slugging percentage, a .524 batting average and 39 RBIs in Sheldon’s 21 games. What is a bit surprising to most observers is that even with runners on base, Fukushima continues to be pitched to.

“I’m not surprise,” Fukushima claimed. “I would actually try to go for me. I would try anything because anything can happen in a game.”

Her humility not withstanding, the results have been torturous to the rest of Delta League. Sheldon is now 9-0 in league action and 19-2 overall. The only local club they’ve lost to was Del Campo, a 6-5 defeat on March 22. 
The stern look of Sarah Fukushima ....

quickly turns to smiles circling the bases 13 times in Sheldon's 21 games this season.

The successes of Fukushima is rubbing off on her teammates. The Huskies are batting .405 as a club and Fukushima thinks the real reason is what was developed in the off-season away from Mary Jo Truesdale Field.

“I think we’re more as a family,” she reasoned. “We’re more like a family, focused, we’re on the right track and I think that’s just bleeding into the games.”

It helps, too, that Fukushima has great hitters in front of her in the Fines sisters, leadoff batter Maci and second-place batter Jordan, both hitting over .450. And if the opposing coach wants to try to pitch around Fukushima there’s sophomore clean-up batter Shea Moreno. She’s having quite a year batting .455 with a pair of home runs, three triples and four doubles. 
Shea Moreno

“Personally, I stepped it up mentally,” Moreno said. “Last year I struggled offensively but held it down defensively. But, this year I took a different mentality. I got this ‘I’m good’ mentality so it helps me in the batters’ box, and I’ve taken the approach, ‘This pitcher’s not going to beat me today and if she does she’s not going to do it on the same pitch.’”

At this rate, averaging almost nine runs a game along with quality pitching from freshmen Grace Owen and Taliyah Miles, the Huskies could easily run the table all the way to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, which would be its second consecutive banner.

“I think our goals are the gray hats, which are the Section (championship) hats,” Fukushima said. “Our main goal is to get there and to win it all.”

“Yes, it’s pretty realistic as long as we keep up mentalities and our work ethics we’re going to be okay,” Moreno said.

An interesting game still on the Huskies’ schedule is their regular season finale on May 13. They’ll host the two-time defending Division II champion Benicia in a non-league contest.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

PG Tennis/Thursday's Scoreboard

By Mighty Chen
Citizen Sports Intern

It all down to this last tiebreaker: 4-4. 4-5. 5-5. As they rallied against each other, Pleasant Groves Ken Nguyen and Sheldons Michael Voong were neck to neck in their singles tennis match on Mon, Apr. 18.
Nice shot, Nguyen said, every time his opponent scored.
The two battled in the 90-degree heat as Pleasant Grove coach Adam Harris commented about the season.
Its a very strange season this year, he stated. Davis and Jesuit at the top, and have beaten us 9-0 each time. Then we have Pleasant Grove and Franklin in the middle.” 
Michael Voong

Franklin beat Pleasant Grove 7-2 on March 28, and Harris is waiting for his chance repay the favor, lest there be consequences.
If we dont beat Franklin 7-2 like they beat us, then were going to be in fourth place, Harris explained.
He also added that the team needed to improve their movement on the court after hitting or returning a ball.
Many of us just sit there watching as if were a spectator, instead of getting back and ready for our opponent to return the ball, Harris pointed out. He noted that his players lose precious seconds when theyre not ready.
Its one of the biggest things plaguing the team, he added.
Harris also described this seasons struggle to try to bond the team together. The top twelve boys on the team rarely communicate with the ten lower-tier players, creating a division in the team.
They dont really see eye to eye, or even talk, he said. The top players need to take someone underneath their wing and start teaching them tennis.
Harris tries to encourage a team-oriented attitude in the boys. When he gets the chance, Harris plays doubles with one of the boys, exemplifying how to be a team sport.
He particularly mentioned Kenneth Xiong and Jack Gallagher who come in on time to help the coach set up for practices and matches.
[Jack] always thanks me after every practice and every match, and nobody else really does that, Harris explained.
Ken Nguyen and Michael Voong switched positions one last time. These last swings determined the winner. It was Voong who took the match.
Ken Nguyen
Sheldon took the team win against Pleasant Grove 5-4, but Nguyen wasnt upset. He shook Voongs hand, smiled, and said sincerely, Great game, man.
Nguyen shared his thoughts through the last few strokes of the match and advised fellow players about close matches.
Stay focused. Stay calm. Dont get distracted. If you get angry or frustrated, you cant play your best.
The Delta Leagues post-season begins on Monday, Apr. 25 with the League Singles Championships at Laguna Creek Racquet Club. The doubles league championship will be played at the same location on Wednesday, Apr. 27.
Thursday's Scoreboard
College Baseball -
Cosumnes River 8, Sierra College 1
College Softball -
Cosumnes River 2, Sierra College 1
Sierra College 2, Cosumnes River 0
Track and Field -
Boys – Davis 85, Monterey Trail 45
Girls – Davis 85, Monterey Trail 51
Jesuit 94, Pleasant Grove 37
St. Francis 100, Pleasant Grove 36

Boys Golf -
Delta League Center Match II
Jesuit 358
Davis 368
Elk Grove 393
Franklin 408
Pleasant Grove 409
Sheldon 489
Monterey Trail 594
Medalist – David Laskin (Jesuit) 66

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday's Scoreboard/ L.C. Tennis, Cervellin Wins, Carlson's homers

Having a big year this season is Laguna Creek's tennis team, under coach Carl Chapin. With a win Thursday at McClatchy, the Cardinals will take the Metro Conference regular season championship for the first time, ending the Lions' long strangle-hold on the tennis title. (Thanks to Laguna Creek journalism student Evan Danh for the photos from today's match against Florin)
Andrew Fleming


Going into Wednesday’s games, three teams were tied atop the Delta League baseball standings at 3-1.
Elk Grove is one of those clubs thanks to a 7-2 win over Pleasant Grove Monday. Dylan Carlson drilled home runs six and seven on the season. Mason Breipol also went deep for the Herd to back the pitching of Alex Zalasky.
Franklin is also 3-1 after a 9-3 win over Grant Monday. Tanner Adams had two hits, including a double and three runs batted in. Nate Thimon had three hits and knocked in a pair of runs for the Wildcats.
Sheldon handed Davis just its second loss of the year Monday, 6-5. Zachary Jedlowski came on in relief of Matt Manning with two outs in the sixth and struck out the final four outs of the game. The Huskies are now 2-2 in the Delta.

Junior Golf

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour came to the Reserve at Spanos Park last weekend for the Northern California Junior Classic. Courtney Cervellin, a freshman at Franklin High School, won the girls age 14-18 division by one stroke over Jasmine Law of Los Angeles. Cervellin’s two day total was a three-over-par 147.
Courtney Cervellin

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour is the largest golf tour of its kind in the country, hosting over 270 tournaments in 32 states every year.

Kelvin Chen


Monday, April 18

Bella Vista 8, Cosumnes Oaks 1
Laguna Creek 6, Galt 1
Elk Grove 7, Pleasant Grove 2
Sheldon 6, Davis 5
Franklin 9, Grant 3

Cosumnes Oaks 5, Ponderosa 2

Roseville 2, Cosumnes Oaks 1
Akugbe Uwaifo

Pleasant Grove 8, Monterey Trail 0
Franklin 7, Sheldon 0
Elk Grove 12, Grant 1

Boys Tennis
Franklin 8, Elk Grove 1
Sheldon 5, Pleasant Grove 4

Tuesday, April 19

LC: vs Kennedy, 4 p.m.
FL: vs Burbank, 4 p.m.
CO: vs Oakmont, 4 p.m.

College Baseball
Cosumnes River 2, Sierra Coll. 0

College Volleyball
Cosumnes River 3, American River 1

Boys Volleyball
CO: vs Del Campo, 6 p.m.
MT: at PG, 6 p.m.
SH: at FR, 6 p.m.
EG: vs Grant, 6 p.m.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

After Four Years At Basketball, Demps Returns To Football

Sure it was just the spring game for Sacramento State Hornet football, but most folks attending - and even participating in - the annual scrimmage were interested in watching the wide receiver wearing the #1 jersey, Cody Demps.

It's been four years since he last wore football gear. That was as the starting quarterback for the Pleasant Grove Eagles. He led his high school team to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. But, Demps was a fine high school basketball player, too, and caught the eyes of Coach Brian Katz at Sac State.

Demps signed a National Letter-of-Intent and played on the hardcourts of the Nest the next four years, with football just a fond memory. He played in 104 straight games, starting 75 of those before a leg injury knocked him out of ten games this past season. Demps did return to lead the Hornets into the Big Sky Tournament, averaging 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game. Through his leadership and local following, Demps helped move Sac State basketball into the forefront after years of obscurity in the busy local sports scene.
Cody Demps, the likely-Hornet football player

There's a little-known NCAA rule which allows a student/athlete who has played up their four years of eligibility to have a fifth season in another sport as long as the athlete is still enrolled in classes. That's exactly Demps' situation.
Cody Demps, the basketball player

Needing a couple more classes before he can graduate, Demps needs to hang around the Sac State campus. But, before he begins to explore a possible professional basketball career Demps wanted the opportunity to see what it would be like to play Big Sky Conference football.

For Demps donning the football gear once again was, well, just like riding a bicycle.

"One thing that's different is using your hands," he explained. "In basketball you have to keep your hands off the other guy. Here, you got to use them to get separation."

He said wide receiver is new to him, but having younger brother Wyatt, a receiver at Nevada-Reno, around has helped. Wyatt has shared some game film with him.

But, there is a play now in the Hornet playbook just for Cody. It's where Demps gets the ball on a reverse and then he pulls up and passes the ball. It didn't work on Saturday.

"They tried to get it in there today, it didn't work out too well," Demps laughed.

No one is more excited to have Demps around than Hornet head coach Jody Sears.

"I think it's a credit to the gifts and talents that he's been blessed with," Sears said. "To be able to come out here and do what he does after finishing a college basketball career and then come out here and be productive at the collegiate level, it is absolutely amazing."

Sears said early in the spring there was one play during a scrimmage where he knew Demps would be a real addition to the team. Running a route in the end zone, Demps out-jumped double coverage and snatched the pass above his defenders.

"I treated it just like a rebound," Demps laughed.

Sears is glad to just have Demps around the locker room, particularly with the fact there are lots of first- and second-year players on the field for the Hornets.

"A great kid, with tremendous work ethic and a great person," Sears noted. "He's an engineering student and to come out here and do what he is doing is a testament to him. To have that maturity and leadership is extremely positive."

What Demps looks to be doing is finding a starting spot in the Hornets' spread offense, which at times, sputtered in 2015, a season in which Sac State was 2-9.

Sears said after the first couple practices this spring it was evident that Demps would join his father Chris as one who would strap it up for Hornet football. The elder Demps was a defensive lineman for the Hornets in the late 1980s.
Hornet head coach Jody Sears

"I told Chris, 'He is not a fish out of water,'" Sears said. "He has soft hands, runs good pass routes, and he's 6-4, 195 pounds. I imagine over the course of the off-season, he'll be plenty ready."

Sears already has Demps penciled in for getting plenty of playing time once the football season rolls around in late August.

Demps would love that opportunity.

"Competition breeds success and coach has made it clear that we need to be gym rats and get stronger and better," he said. "That's what breeds championships."

Demps wasn't the only local players shining during Saturday's scrimmage. Another former Eagle, Dre Terrell, came up with an interception. He's trying to nail down a starting spot in the Hornet secondary. Elk Grove's Manny Scott-Anderson started at safety as a true freshman a year ago. One of the two quarterbacks who played Saturday during the spring game was former Sheldon Huskie, Nolan Merker.

Sears credited his recruiting coordinator, Fred Kelley, with getting lots of local players to come play Hornet football.

"We don't miss on very many kids," Sears said. "Freddie does a very thorough job in the area. And, we need to get local kids. There's enough talent here to win a championship."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Delta Baseball: Franklin Hands Davis 1st Loss; Sheldon Upends EG

Wednesday beheld a couple surprise games in Delta League baseball:

*Franklin (8-7, 1-1 Delta League) knocked Davis from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 9-8 win. After the Blue Devils notched four runs in the top of the first, the Wildcats battled back with a run in their half of the opening inning and four in the second to take the lead. Davis had an 8-6 lead going into the sixth inning before Franklin took the lead for good with three in the home half of the inning.
Tanner Adams and Trevor Zschiele each had a double. Adams had a pair of RBI's along with Nate Thimjon and Nik Regino.
*Sheldon scored six times in the first inning Wednesday at Elk Grove and then held on for an 11-9 win. The Huskies rocked starter Christian Scott for six runs on six hits before an out could be recorded. Ryan Lemp led the Sheldon attack with three hits. Matt Manning had a double and two RBI's, as did Zackeria Jiles.
Dylan Carlson and Ryan Robards each homered for Elk Grove.
Sheldon pitcher Zachary Jedlowski pitched the final four-and-one-third innings to pick up the win.
*Elsewhere in the Delta, Grant defeated Monterey Trail, 13-3, and Jesuit got revenge for a loss on Monday by defeating Pleasant Grove Wednesday, 4-1.
*Bradshaw Christian remained unbeaten in the Sierra Delta League by defeating Vacaville Christian, 17-8. Zach Wackman had two hits, including a double. Morgan Clay stroked a pair of doubles and drove in three runs. 


Sarah Fukishima drilled her eighth home run of the season and drove in four runs as Sheldon romped over Monterey Trail, 16-0. Maci Fines had a triple and a double and five RBI's. Jordan Fines had a pair of hits and three RBI's as Sheldon raised its league record to 5-0.
*Elk Grove walked by Grant, 17-3, while Franklin dropped a 7-4 decision to St. Francis.
*In Metro League softball, Laguna Creek romped over Johnson, 23-0. Mazzi Davis had a single, double and triple and drove in six runs for the Cardinals.


In boys' golf Elk Grove looked strong as it defeated Monterey Trail. 192-288. Jacob Custodio was the low scorer with a 35.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Abrams Leads Revival of CRC Swimming

There was a bit of a landmark set this spring at Cosumnes River College when the women’s swim team won its first home meet in more than 35 years. The issue wasn’t because the Hawks swim club was bad, it was the fact they didn’t have a team for all these years.
No one from back then is still here now at CRC to explain why the swim program was abandoned, but a little more than a year ago athletic director Liz Belyea wanted the sport once again at her school and got the necessary approvals pushed through.
Liz Abrams
The woman she wanted to re-start the swim program, Elizabeth Abrams, was hired in late 2014 and just a little more than a year later, the Hawks were back in the water once again. To get girls interested they did just about everything including putting an ad in the school newspaper. A few girls showed up for fall workouts and then Abrams arrived in Jan.2015. A scant few weeks later the season started.
“We had five girls on the team our first year,” she said. “It was a close-knit group of girls who worked really hard. They were super dedicated. There was a lot of improvement with in the scope of their abilities.”
Their big accomplishment in year one was that they were not last in the Big 8 Conference, which says a lot because teams of five are real small for swimming, according to Abrams.
She is a Sacramento woman who grew up in Rancho Cordova, swam as a teen with the Cordova Blue Marlins and later at American River College. She’s a teacher in the San Juan Unified School District who was the swim coach at Christian Brothers High School for several years.
Now in 2016 with a team double the size of year one with ten girls she has her swimmers going through quite a regimen daily. They are in the pool at 5:30 a.m. for two hours, then dry off and get ready for their day only to return to the pool again in the evening after Abrams arrives from her classroom teaching.
The goal this year for the Hawks’ swimmers is to lower their times to get ready for the Big 8 Conference championships.
CRC Swimmers taking a break from a workout recently
Natasha Supan, the only sophomore swimmer on the team, lowered two of her personal best records, one in the 200 meter individual medley and also in the 100 meter breaststroke. She lowered her mark drastically. Before an April 1 swim meet she swam her 200 IM in 2:55.32 and leaving the meet at American River College` her new record for 200 IM was 2:46.18, a difference of more than 6 seconds. Supan  lowered her 100 Breaststroke time from 1:23.60 to 1:22.94.
Sara Krajnovic, at the same meet, lowered two of her personal bests as well. Sara competed in the 100 butterfly event and decreased her time from 1:21.04 to 1:20.29. In the 200 IM, she lowered her time from 2:49.95 to 2:45.60, a huge accomplishment for any swimmer.
Suraya Golden was able to lower her time in the 100 breaststroke  by 3.10 seconds and she also lowered her 50 meter freestyle mark from 27.59 to 27.47.
Jenna Singh had a standout moment during the April 1 event when she dropped her time in the 100 meter butterfly from a personal best of 1:27.48, to 1:22.60. Liz Padilla swam multiple events at American River but one personal record she beat by a good amount of time was in her 100 backstroke. Singh decreased her time from 1:46.06 to 1:43.74.

Morgan Lemmons contributed to this story