Cambrian: Sports

Rain clears briefly, but Coast Union High baseball continues struggles

Junior hurler Spencer Magnuson pitched five-plus innings for Coast Union against Valley Christian Academy on March 22.
Junior hurler Spencer Magnuson pitched five-plus innings for Coast Union against Valley Christian Academy on March 22. Courtesy photo

The rain pushed the pause button long enough for Coast Union to play a home baseball game Friday, March 22, but hopes for staying in contention in the Coast Valley League were dashed by a great pitching performance from Valley Christian Academy’s talented lefty Andrew Sparlin.

Twelve Bronco hitters bit the strikeout dust as Sparlin controlled the game and sent Coast Union packing, 11-2.

Sparlin — a 6-4 senior and a three-sport leading light at VCA — overwhelmed the Broncos with his off-speed stuff, curves and control. Bronco pitchers Magnus Marthaler (who started but didn’t last through two innings) and Spencer Magnuson (who gave up several runs but gained confidence as the game wore on) couldn’t tame the hot bats of the Lions.

Coming into this season, the Broncos (1-2) hadn’t lost a Coast Valley League baseball game in 18 years; indeed, they conquered the league title every year since 2011. In many of those years, VCA came in second, a game or two behind Coast Union. But the tables have turned on the Broncos.

With their defeats at the hands of Dunn School (new to the CVL this season) on March 12, and Friday’s loss to the Lions, Coast may well be looking at a third-place finish.

Coast Union collected just four hits — singles by Zack Stephenson, Cristian Castillo, Spencer Magnuson, and a double by Emi Pena.

Coach head coach Brian Machado said the Broncos need to fine tune defense, offense and all the nuances associated with high school baseball.

“All the time. We need to emphasize the positive stuff,” he said.

He praised Magnuson’s mound work: “He threw good in relief and is getting better every time, and that’s what we want.”

The Lions had “good pitching and good hitting and they were simply better that day,” said Machado.

In the meantime, a game against Fresno Christian scheduled for Saturday, March 23, was scrubbed when rainfall Friday night and Saturday morning created several small ponds around the infield.

Coast was set to play at Dunn on Tuesday (late for publication). The next home game for Coast Union is Saturday, March 30, a noon make-up vs. Orcutt Academy. The game will be broadcast on KTEA-FM (103.5) and streams on

Freshman pitcher Lizette Mireles pitched five no-hit innings in the Lady Broncos’ 12-0 win over Valley Christian Academy on March 22. Debbie Markham Courtesy photo

Softball stays hot

Coast Union freshman Lizette Mirales allowed no hits in her five-inning outing against Valley Christian Academy on Friday, March 22. She struck out seven — and walked just two batters — in Coast Union’s 12-0 victory, a game shortened by the 10-run rule.

“She just threw strikes and let them hit it,” said Coast head coach Steve Kniffen. “The few hard-hit balls were fielded flawlessly, and that took away VCA’s energy early.”

Freshman Brianna Ellis had two hits and drove in two runs; senior Ailyn Casas had one hit, a home run, and drove in three runs. “Ailyn hit a ball farther than I have seen any of our girls hit one,” said Kniffen. “She was just timing the pitcher — she hit about five foul balls until she two-hopped the outfield fence.”

Senior Melody Robertson and Mirales each knocked in a pair of runs for Coast.

Kniffen has been missing some players during his practices due to the “Mary Poppins” production — and the necessary rehearsals — the Drama Club is putting on this coming weekend.

He also sees student athletes and other teenagers at Coast locked into their digital technologies — as opposed to joining a team or exercising.

“The league is suffering from the ‘phone fatigue’ that is plaguing our civilization as fewer and fewer children are actually using their physical bodies to participate in activities,” Kniffen wrote in an email interview. “It looks like most of the league has never participated in any form of youth sports.”

Coming into this week, the Broncos (3-0) hold down first place in the Coast Valley League, a game ahead of Shandon (2-1); Coast hosts Shandon at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 29. The softball team has the longest streak of winning the CVL — dating back to 2011 — of any sports team at Coast Union.

Boy’s volleyball continues to struggle

There will always be a sizeable learning curve for players participating in a new high school sport, and the Coast Union boy’s volleyball team – 1-8 coming into this week – is a perfect example of that reality.

Indeed, the first ever Coast Union boy’s volleyball team — notwithstanding that they are hustling, enthusiastic and are coached by the venerable Pam Kenyon — lost another match on Saturday, March 23.

The Broncos won the first game against Midland High School (played at Santa Lucia Middle School), 25-23, but they lost the subsequent games, 13-25, 20-25 and 14-25. In that last game, the Broncos were down 4-20, but they rallied to make it a closer game, giving the team some confidence.

“We have so much to learn!” Kenyon said “This is only our first year playing, and the boys are very focused on getting better. Many of them have never watched a full game of volleyball before, much less played a game or a match.”

Kenyon used the Saturday game as a hands-on teaching moment, as both coaches agreed to stop play occasionally so Kenyon could point out players’ positives and negatives of the game in progress.

The team has two tough away games (Dunn School and Mission Prep) before returning home to face Morro Bay on April 5.