Cal spring sports heating up

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Cal spring sports heating up

LV Viswanathan, Staff Writer

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The Grizzlies softball team is back in the running for an NCS championship, led by the exceptional pitching and high-caliber defense.

Cal has a great group of athletes on the team, who are determined and passionate about the game.

The team is second in the EBAL with a league record of 10-1, 17-4 overall. Cal traveled to  first place Foothill (20-0) on Tuesday. Results were not available before The Californian went to press.

Cal wraps up its season today at home against Carondelet. The game starts at 4 p.m.

The Grizzlies entered the first place showdown with Foothill on a 10-game win streak dating back to April 9. During the streak, Cal has outscored its opponents 80-21. Cal’s only games within two runs were a 6-5 win over Amador Valley on April 17 and a 4-2 victory over Granada on April 11.

The team hopes to finish first in the standings this year and are confident that they will do so.

“I mean we’re having a great season and we have a great team that works really hard,” Coach Tony Bari said. “We have nine seniors this year and most of them are committed to play in college and it’s nice to see them continue.”

Cal had high expectations coming into the season after finishing second in EBAL last year.

“We have a lot of potential to be the top team,” said senior center fielder Sydney Frankenberger, who’s one of the all time leaders for many different categories. 

Added senior first basemen Alexis Burt, who is also in the Cal record books for home runs,“We are doing pretty good and picking up our slack, because we lost couple of games and we are working on it to get better.” 

Cal has been practicing everyday and players have been giving their all in each game.

Senior right-handed pitcher Lainey Hanehan has both captained and been the ace of the pitching staff all season. She’s continuing her softball career at University of Northern Colorado once she wraps up at Cal.

“Even if the individuals do good in a game, it all comes down to the team because working together as a team is crucial to winning,” Hanehan said.

Boys Lacrosse

The Grizzlies lacrosse team is making a statement this year as they boys have put themselves in prime position for the NCS playoffs.

Sitting on an exceptional 16-3 overall record, 6-2 in league, there’s no doubt Cal is poised to make some noise come postseason time.

The Grizzlies were ranked 32nd in the state heading into Friday’s season finale at De La Salle (12-6). The game starts at 7 p.m.

Coach Andrew Ertola has done wonders with a very young roster featuring nine underclassmen and just five seniors.

The season was somewhat pedestrian until the Grizzlies hit their stride and went on their current 11-game winning streak. Cal last lost was back on March 15, a 6-2 defeat at the hands of San Ramon Valley.

“We have been playing great as a team and everyone is fitting into their role to help benefit each other,” said senior Ben Kasenchak following a 9-7 win over Clayton Valley Charter on April 23 that extended the win streak to 10 games.

Kasenchak came up big for the Grizzlies in the triumph as his hat trick and late game heroics led them to victory.

In addition to striking pay dirt over Clayton Valley, big wins include an early league victory over Monte Vista where the Grizzlies edged their rival 9-8. A non-league, 9-6 win over Bishop O’Dowd was a momentum boost that sparked the winning streak they went on in the middle to latter portion of the season.

Senior Ethan Barnard credits the outstanding regular season performance to the brotherhood that’s been formed between all the guys.

“Whether it’s a senior captain or a first year freshman, we’ve been playing with a sense of camaraderie that is just unmatched,” Barnard said. “I 100 percent believe we can keep it going into NCS.”

Despite the long winning streak, the Grizzlies have room for improvement. They sit in a tie for third place in the EBAL behind San Ramon Valley and Monte Vista.

Senior Nick Barberi thinks this can be the year that Cal takes their game to the next level, but he knows there’s work to be done.

“We need to play better in the first half of games,” Barberi said of upcoming NCS games. 

First round NCS games begin next Tuesday. Seedings and first round matchups will be announced this weekend.

This season and what becomes of it looms large for seniors looking to make a lasting impact on the program.

“Lacrosse has meant so much to me and I hope that I can have every player on the team have the same love and enjoyment for the sport that I have had,” said Kasenchak, who has been playing the sport for 12 years, but may not continue into college.

– Cameron McKeon

Track and Field 

Cal High’s track team is sprinting toward a strong finish and is once again on track to overcome any hurdle that stands in their way.  

Going 4-1 in meets this season,  the Grizzlies are quickly charging toward a successful playoff run. The team has a legacy to carry on, as the boys varsity team were EBAL champions last year, and the girls have claimed multiple titles. 

Despite having been plagued with injuries earlier in the season, the team has rebounded gracefully and is charging hard at opposing teams.

A very individual sport by nature, Cal track has been improving one by one and perfecting their craft. While each event is not competed in as a team, the will to win for Cal is always the primary focus and mindset.

“Even with half the team going down to injury, the rest of the squad has really stepped up and we’ve seen some great talent coming from the lower classes,” senior Charlie Schmitt said.

Cal’s team also saw a great number of withdrawals from the program this year.  But the Grizzlies have remained resilient and always knows how to adapt and overcome any hurdle thrown their way.   

“It’s been great to see everyone push through because it’s really easy to just quit in track and even with some quitting our core team has stuck together and performed very well,” Schmitt said.  

Cal track undoubtedly has the passion to become a championship team and always strives to perform at the highest level in order to get there.  

“We are a championship team because we have drive,” senior Tanner Draper said. “We have a lot of new, younger athletes who are pushing themselves to be the best, which in turn pushes the rest of the team.”

While many strong and admirable traits are displayed by the team, there is always room for improvement.  

“If we had to improve upon something it would be our mentality during races,” Schmitt said.  “Our team has the talent and sometimes we get distracted from that and it can hinder our performance.”

The Grizzlies display all the necessary and admired traits of a successful sports team and has been executing them flawlessly this season.  Only time will tell if all the hard work and dedication to be the best that they can be has paid off. But until then, the team will keep pressing on, always giving it their all.

“Our team has had a pretty good work ethic this season,” track coach Mark Karbo said.  “Some schools view track as a more individual sport but we really try to take more of the team approach to the sport and that works really well for us.”

– Ben Rettig

Baseball

The Grizzlies baseball team is a well-rounded, well-performing team that is not to be underestimated.  

Going 10-12 overall this season, the team hopes to rack a couple more wins to have a chance at the EBAL and NCS playoffs.

Starting the season off strong, the team scored often, beating some teams by 10 runs.  When league came around, though, competition got a lot tougher, but the pitching remained exceptional.  

Senior pitcher Josh Giffins highlighted that the team has never ceased to perform at the highest level regardless of the outcome of any game.

“What our team does well is pitching and playing defense,” Giffins said. “Our hitting has been coming back lately from a slump and once that is back on track we will have a solid team again”.

Senior first baseman Jack Jones echoed the call of the team’s resilience and tenacity.

“When it comes to our practices we try our best to execute whatever comes our way which is a great testament to our work ethic as a team,” Jones said.

Senior outfielder Mark Balleza said that the camaraderie of the team plays an integral role in their success. 

“We are all good friends on and off the field and this helps us to perform that much better as a team when we are playing,” Balleza said.

Coach Dan Ward noted several things that could be addressed in order to come up with a championship team next year.

“Being a championship team is a mindset,” Ward said. “Unfortunately we have not been able to accomplish all of the goals that we felt we were capable of, but there is still time left in the season to achieve these goals”. 

Ward spoke highly of the team and praised their will to never give up.  

“Our players are always trying their best, and continue daily to improve upon their skills,” Ward said.  “Our starting pitching this season has been outstanding and they always give us a chance to win every game.”

Rounding out the season by playing several league rivals, the team hopes to finish strong and make its presence in EBAL known.

Cal hosted Foothill on Wednesday. Results were not available before The Californian went to press. Cal travels to  De La Salle on Friday for the EBAL finale at 4 p.m.

– Ben Rettig