Baseball Bounces Back in League
Pitching and Clutch Hitting Lead the Dolphins Past Venice and Fairfax
After a disappointing 6-4 loss to Venice in their Western League opener, players on the Palisades High varsity baseball team made a vow not to let their frustration carry over to the next game.
Indeed, the Dolphins looked like a different team – and a much better one – in last Wednesday’s home opener against Taft and escaped with a 3-2 victory thanks to the hustle of junior second baseman Tyler Yeh.
Behind by a run in the seventh inning, the Toreadors put runners on second and third with one out. Justin Thomas stepped to the plate looking to give Taft the lead, butt fouled off a pitch down the right field line. Running at full speed, Yeh dove to make an over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory, got to his knees and fired a bullet to the plate where catcher Joseph Fasano tagged out Toreadors runner Kyle Weiner to complete the double play.
“We practice that situation a lot actually,” Yeh said. “I saw [first baseman Henry Coquillard wasn’t going to get there so I just went all-out for it. I figured the guy at third might go and he did.”
Harrison Hart got the save after Coquillard’s sacrifice fly tied it and Leo Bucksbaum’s single scored Jed Moscot to give the Dolphins a 3-2 lead in the sixth.
After relieving starter Roben Sieling, Will Bucksbaum pitched out of a jam in the sixth to keep Palisades within a run after Taft had taken a 2-1 lead on a two-out single by Max Mehlbaum in the fifth.
Hart singled with the bases loaded to get the Dolphins on the board in the third inning.
On Thursday, Moscot took the hill to try to avenge Palisades’ loss to Venice and the Dolphins’ senior pitched a gem, allowing just four hits with seven strikeouts in a 3-0 victory.
The Dolphins capitalized on two dropped balls in the outfield to score three runs in the first inning and that was all the offense Moscot would need. The shutout upped his season totals to 28 innings pitched with 32 strikeouts and only two earned runs allowed.
“Jed’s been nothing short of awesome,” Pali High Coach Mike Voelkel said. “He’s proven he can go late into games with his best stuff.”
Palisades lost its league opener at Westchester last season before reeling off 11 straight wins to finish in first place. The Dolphins hope to duplicate that feat this spring. On Monday they beat Fairfax 15-0 in five innings.
The Dolphins swung the bats early and with great effect against Fairfax.
Cameron Schiffer led the way, going three-for-three with three RBIs. Hart hit two doubles, Aidan Wirshing had two hits and two RBIs and Charlie Carr threw a one-hitter with seven strikeouts.
“It felt good to get through the fifth inning,” Carr said. “I kept pounding the fastball because they weren’t hitting it. Whenever you pitch you want to finish the game. If you get in trouble you want to get out of trouble. In games like this it’s important to make sure you’re doing the little things like hustling back to bases and sprinting all the way to first.”
On Saturday, the Dolphins hosted Camarillo in Redondo Tournament play and lost 2-0 on back-to-back first-inning home runs by Camarillo’s Frankie Tostado and Nico Lima.
Leo Bucksbaum pitched the first five innings and Will Bucksbaum pitched the final two against the Scorpions. The Dolphins were held to six hits.
Palisades travels south next week to play in the Premier Division of the San Diego Lions Tournament. On Monday, the Dolphins open against Chula Vista Eastlake. On Tuesday they face Ramona and on Wednesday they take on Lakeside El Capitan.
Freshman Softball Twins Coming of Age
It is often said that success can be contagious and that is certainly true in the case of Palisades High varsity softball players Calia and Talia Hunter.
The twins are always trying to outdo each other, in a sisterly sort of way, and when one does something good, the other is likely to follow. An example was last Thursday’s Western League opener against LACES, when the freshmen both contributed to the Dolphins’ 2-1 victory on their 15th birthday.
“ I kind of knew I had to catch it,” Calia said after snaring a line drive at second base for the final out. “We’re really motivated to work hard in practice and make less mental mistakes. My sister and I always play on the same team so we’re used to it. I know how to play everywhere around the infield and shes gravitates more towards pitching.”
While Calia came through with perhaps the biggest catch of the game, Talia delivered one of the key hits – an RBI double that scored Sasha Vanley to tie the game 1-1 in the fourth inning.
“I really wanted a hit so we could get started,” said Talia, who the older sister by one minute. “We’re both good at different things but we do critique each other and we do try to one-up each other. If I get a hit, she has to get one too.”
Palisades went ahead 2-1 on a single by Monika Swanson that scored Talia Hunter and Paulette Ely made the lead stand, tossing a two-hitter with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Calia began playing tee-ball at the age of 7 and her sister took up the sport shortly thereafter. Both played at Paul Revere Middle School and have started practicing with the Santa Monica Patriots, a U14 fastpitch club squad.
The twins were at it again in Monday’s 4-2 win at Hamilton. Talia pitched a four-hitter with three strikeouts while Calia went two- for-three with two singles and again recorded the final out, this time on a lazy fly ball to left field.
“We knew Hamilton was going to be a tough game – especially playing them on their field,” Pali High Coach Tori Dario said. “We played those two games [against King Drew and Santa Clara] on Saturday and I like playing strong teams because the girls learn from them. We stole a lot of bases today because the girls saw what those teams were doing to us. They put the ball in play and it worked.”
Daisy Jones went two-for-three and scored two runs, Vanley had two hits and two RBIs and Jenny Talbot added a single and two runs scored for the Dolphins, who host Venice at 3 p.m. today at Stadium by the Sea. The winner moves into sole possession of first place in the league standings.
On Saturday, Palisades traveled to Garvey Park for a pair of Lincoln Classic games. With only nine players, the Dolphins gave up eight runs in the third inning of a 9-3 loss to King Drew, then took a 3-1 lead in the first inning before falling to Santa Clara 10-3.
Linebacker Alec Simpson Commits to Nevada
Palisades High linebacker Alec Simpson plays every down like it’s his last. On the field he’s a bundle of energy and emotion, but off it he’ll rest a little easier next season knowing football is in his future.
On Monday, Simpson announced that he has committed to the University of Nevada and he was excited to share the news with his family, friends and teammates.
“I called Coach [Brian] Polian to tell him,” said Simpson, who led the Dolphins with 115 tackles as a junior last fall. “Nevada felt like home ever since I visited and I know I’m wanted there. I love that it’s a brotherhood and a family and we’ll play big-time competition. We open against Notre Dame my freshman year on NBC! They also have a great broadcasting program which is what I plan on studying.”
Simpson wanted to commit before his senior season so he can concentrate on football and the Wolf Pack’s coach is the primary reason No. 52 is headed to Reno in 2016.
“When I first met Coach Polian I knew he’d make me not only a better player but a better man,” Simpson said. “He’s an awesome guy who is always there for his players no matter what. He wants to start something great and I can’t wait to be apart of it.”
Simpson was named to Cal-Hi Sports’ all-state squad in January after earning first-team All-Western League and first-team All-City Division I honors. Nevada offered him a full scholarship in August.
Lacrosse Teams Rout Huntington Park
The Palisades High boys and girls lacrosse teams traveled east to play Huntington Park last Thursday and both returned home with resounding victories.
Andrew Davidson scored four goals, Joey Hamwi had three and Macchio Rissone added two as the boys blanked the Hunters 17-0 to stay undefeated against City Section teams.
The girls triumphed 19-2 and two days later they were in Lake Balboa for the Birmingham Bash. The Lady Dolphins lost their first tournament game to Thacher 7-6, then fell to host Birmingham 5-3. The teams had a rematch in league play Wednesday at Stadium by the Sea and will meet again April 24 at Birmingham.
Palisades’ boys added an intersectional game Tuesday, April 7 against Brentwood. The Dolphins will host City rival Hawkins on April 13.
ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Courtney O’Brien
A senior striker on the Harvard-Westlake High girls varsity soccer squad, Courtney was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I team after leading the Wolverines to a 15-3-1 record and their fourth straight Mission League title. The Princeton signee led Harvard-Westlake in scoring and netted two goals against Mater Dei in the Wolverines’ shootout loss in the second round of the playoffs. To nominate your favorite Palisadian for Athlete of the Week, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Swimmers Top Mira Costa
In the first official meet of the season, Palisades High’s boys and girls swim teams showed why they are favored to repeat as City Sections champions.
The Dolphins dominated last Tuesday’s intersectional dual at Mira Costa, sweeping the varsity, junior varsity and frosh/soph divisions. The varsity boys won 115-55, the varsity girls won 101-69, the JV boys won 108-45, the JV girls won 109-45, the frosh/soph boys won 97-45 and the frosh/soph girls prevailed 119-35.
Pali High’s varsity boys ‘A’ 200 medley relay of Michael Cutidioc, Aaron Buell, Kian Brouwer and Kian Lotfi took first place in one minute, 45.14 seconds, the ‘A’ 200 freestyle relay of Cutidioc, Roy Yoo, Greg Vitous and Zach Senator was first in 1:33.73 and the ‘A’ 400 freestyle relay of Brouwer, Yoo, Senator and Hunter Loncar won in 3:21.43.
Brouwer won the varsity 100 butterfly in 54.82 seconds and the 200 freestyle in 1:48.62 and fellow sophomore Tomo Sato won the varsity 100 backstroke in 1:00.36. Michael Zabrucky was second.
Loncar (4:49.54) and Senator (4:53.68) finished first and second in the varsity 500 freestyle and Loncar won the varsity 200 individual medley in 2:02.28.
Pali High’s varsity girls ‘A’ 200 freestyle relay of Nell El Souri, Caroline Connelly, Mardell Ramirez and Lilly Carthan won in 1:46.50, the ‘A’ 200 medley relay of Ramirez, Leah Timmerman, Alexus Wang and Rose Walker was second in 1:59.73 and the ‘A’ 400 freestyle relay of Timmerman, Wang, Connelly and freshman Dora Seggelke took second in 3:54.64.
Ramirez won the varsity girls 100 backstroke in 1:02.10 and the 100 freestyle in 55.13 seconds.
El Souri won the varsity 50 freestyle in 26.16, Timmerman won the varsity 100 breaststroke in 1:10.61 and the varsity 200 freestyle in 2:01.75 and Seggelke won the 500 freestyle in 5:26.29.
In a practice meet one week before, Palisades won all four divisions against Granada Hills.
Bianca King Named Western League Most Valuable Player
After leading Palisades High to the first-ever City Section Open Division girls basketball championship, senior forward Bianca King has been named Most Valuable Player in the Western League.
King averaged 17.6 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
Joining King on the first team are three Dolphin guards: freshman Sammy Spanier, sophomore Chelsey Gipson and junior Kayla Merrill-Gillett.
Spanier played in all 34 games and averaged seven points and 3.9 rebounds. Gipson averaged 19.2 points, 5.0 assists and 2.6 steals and Merrill-Gillett averaged 17.8 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Two Palisades players were named to the All-League second team: senior shooting guard Rita Herbstman and sophomore point guard Chaniya Pickett.
Herbstman provided leadership during the Dolphins’ playoff run while averaging 3.7 points per game and Pickett averaged 4.4 points and 2.9 assists.
Palisades’ boys varsity team was also well-represented in the All-League voting.
Senior guard Joseph Robinson and junior guard Will Johnson were first-team selections.
Among the second team picks were two Dolphins: junior point guard Shane Williams and senior forward Michael Fry.
Palisades finished third in the Western League and lost in the first round of the City Division I playoffs. Fairfax guard Lindsey Drew was voted MVP by the coaches. Fairfax’s Donald Gipson and Westchester’s Keith Fisher are the most outstanding players.
Brian Temple: Runner with a Cause
One of the Palisadians who participated in the 30th Los Angeles Marathon on March 15 was 48-year-old Brian Temple, who completed the 26.2-mile course from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier in two hours, 54 minutes and 55 seconds, placing 107th overall and third in his age group.
More significant than his finishing time, however, was the more than $7,000 he raised for Sojourn Services serving battered women through the Ocean Park Community Center, a non-profit organization headquartered in Santa Monica. Temple and his wife Kristi live near Will Rogers State Historic Park and are 14-year Palisadians.
Temple, who graduated from Palisades High in 1985, is a real estate developer/investor who runs three or four marathons a year. He has run for Sojourn in LA the last three years. He is training for the Boston Marathon in April and clocked a personal-best 2:47:59 in Chicago last year. Temple is hoping to break his personal record at the Berlin Marathon in Germany in September.
AYSO All-Stars Earn Sportsmanship Award
An American Youth Soccer Organization U12 girls all-star team from Region 69 won the Kachina Klassic Sportsmanship Award last weekend in Mesa, Arizona.
Coached by Palisades High alumnus and beach volleyball hall of famer Kent Steffes, the local team’s name and region will be engraved on a plaque.
The annual spring tournament began the Sportsmanship Award five years ago with the goal of honoring teams exemplifying the AYSO spirit, regardless of the scores of their games.
Teams are judged by referee crews from each game and Steffes’ squad was voted the lone Sportsmanship champion among all participating girls and boys teams.
The Pali U12 All-Stars consisted of Sofia Bates, Ona Gordonson, Kylie Prince, Maren Meier, Michaela Rodeno, Olivia Rodeno, Katharine Steffes, Tara Tehrani and Sophie Rubin.
FC Pali Wins Lancaster Tourney
FC Pali, a local AYSO U10 boys team, won the American Heroes Soccer Cup last weekend in Lancaster, defeating the Rancho Cucamonga Flames 7-2 in the championship game.
Coached by Eric Winthrop and Joe Walsh, FC Pali went undefeated, advancing to the final with 4-0, 2-1 and 6-0 victories.
Contributing to the team’s first-place finish were Barney Lanning, Blake Pecsok, Dylan Walsh, Ethan Jefferson, Evan Stokdyk, Giovanni Ferrero, Joshua Hananel, Max North, Nathan Winthrop and Sammy Sachs.
It was the second tournament triumph for FC Pali, which also won its division at the Locomotion Tournament in Riverside in February, shutting out the Culver City Extras 2-0 in the championship game.