After a season filled with injuries and a disappointing 15-12-1 record in 2017, the San Luis Obispo High School baseball team is healthy in 2018 and looking to make a run at another league title. SLO High (3-1) handed Clovis North (7-1) its first loss of the season Friday with a 6-0 win. Junior lefty and Arizona State commit Cooper Benson struck out 14 batters and gave up just two hits in seven innings for the win.
Benson, who missed a chunk of last season with rib injury, and senior pitcher Ollie Hicks are expected to be one of the best pitching duos in the county this season.
SLO High junior Brooks Lee, who missed most of 2017 season with a back injury, is also healthy and playing out of his mind. The switch-hitting Cal Poly commit and son of Mustangs head coach Larry Lee had a three home-run game in the preseason and a two home-run game in a win over Nipomo in the second game of the season.
Clovis East handed SLO High its first loss of the season Saturday, 3-0, but the Tigers have still outscored opponents 32-4 this season. And with the addition of senior Will Compton, SLO’s best hitter from a year ago, and Emilio Cornoa, a talented sophomore transfer from Mission Prep, both of whom were playing basketball until last week, the Tigers best baseball could be ahead of them.
Paso Robles had its best season in 39 years in 2017 with a co-PAC 8 title and a run to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. Paso Robles is 3-1 to start the 2018 season on the strength of the offense. Four players are hitting better than .400, including senior Dylan Lewis and junior Dylan Griewank, who are each batting .556 with a combined nine RBI.
The rest of the teams in the PAC 8 have barely played at all, but league season is right around the corner with play beginning March 20.
Templeton undefeated on the diamond
The Templeton baseball and softball teams are off to undefeated starts in 2018.
The baseball team has won four straight to start the Los Padres League season and has outscored its opponents 29-4. Senior Jared Money has been living up to his last name at the plate, hitting .467, while senior pitcher Cole Garcia is 2-0 with a 1.68 ERA and 11 strikeouts in two appearances.
The Templeton softball team is 4-0 in non-league play in a stretch that includes a 9-3 win over Paso Robles and a 10-0 win over SLO High. Junior and 2016 Tribune County Player of the Year Ashley Daughtery has been doing what she does best, striking out batters with 26 strikeouts and only two hits in 11 innings of work. And she has help from senior Shaylin Coy, who has 21 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. Senior Ashley Ingle is leading the way from the plate with a .500 batting average.
Both teams will be back in action Tuesday, softball against Arroyo Grande and baseball against Lompoc.
Arroyo Grande and Atascadero, two softball teams expected to battle for a PAC 8 league title, are off to strong starts. Arroyo Grande (3-0) has yet to allow a run this season, and Atascadero (4-0) is putting up some impressive offensive numbers. With a strong group of teams in the PAC 8, it should be an interesting league season. Play begins March 20.
Track season off and running
▪ SLO High junior and reigning County Track and Field Athlete of the Year Anneke Moersdorf set a school record in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet 6.25 inches at a tri meet with Righetti and Paso Robles on Wednesday. She also won the long jump, 200-meter race and was part of the winning 4x100 relay team.
▪ The Arroyo Grande girls and Paso Robles boys track and field teams each got wins last Saturday at 26th Annual Bob McKie Bearcat Relays hosted by Paso Robles High School. The Arroyo Grande girls team beat out a host of SLO County teams, including second-place SLO High and third-place Paso Robles. Senior Amber Martin won the discus event (115-09), junior Karley Pinkerton won the high jump (4-10) and junior Kaylee Dillard won the pole vault (9-08) to help Arroyo Grande to the win.
The Paso Robles boys team was led by a triple-jump win by senior Cade England (42-06) and a discus win by junior Corban Payne (133-11).
▪ The Morro Bay High boys golf team is undefeated to start league play. Mac Dougherty shot 83 at La Purisima in Lompoc on Thursday to claim medalist honors and give Morro Bay a 12-stroke win over seven Los Padres League teams.
-SLO High senior Neil Solorio will play Division 3 football at Coe College Cedar in Rapids, Iowa, after signing last week. The tight end/linebacker had 12 catches for 166 yards and 51 tackles his senior season.
Beach Volleyball Ranked
On the strength of an 8-2 start, the Cal Poly women’s beach volleyball team is ranked No. 6 in the nation in the latest AVCA Collegiate Beach Volleyball Coaches Poll. The Mustangs beat Arizona State, No. 14 TCU and No. 18 Tulane all by scores of 4-1 at a tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, last week. It’s the highest the Cal Poly has been ranked since the poll started in 2013.
Cal Poly had a road trip it would like to forget this week in Lincoln, Nebraska. After winning the series opener 14-8 on Thursday, the bats went cold for the Mustangs. Cal Poly was shut out Friday (4-0) and blown out in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday 22-3 despite 15 hits in the game. The second game of the doubleheader was another lopsided loss, 13-2.
Cal Poly (6-10) will return to San Luis Obispo four a seven-game homestand starting with a Monday game against New Mexico followed by a three-game series against San Diego State.
Softball’s first homestand
Senior Lindsey Chalmers threw a complete-game two hitter to lead the Cal Poly softball team to its fifth straight win Saturday against Marist at the ShareSLO Mustang Classic, 4-1.
Cal Poly (12-9) will go on the road for the next seven games before opening the Big West season at home against UC Riverside on March 30.
▪ Former Cal Poly linebacker Nick Dzubnar became the highest paid special teams player in the NFL after signing a contract with the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday, according to a tweet from Off-Tackle Sports Management, Dzubnar's representation.
Dzubnar was cut before the start of the 2017 season by the Chargers but eventually resigned and led the NFL in special teams tackles with 21. The terms of the new contract were not immediately available.
▪ 2013 SLO High Female Athlete of the Year Micayla Rennick helped Tennessee Tech University win its first-ever team title at the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships two weeks ago. The senior, who was named OVC Female Indoor Track Athlete of the Year in 2017, had three first-place finishes in the mile, 800-meter and 3000-meter events. She also broke the OVC championship mile record with a time of 4:48.11.
▪ Templeton native and Paso Robles High graduate Joseph Brown set a Drexel University record in the 200 breast stroke at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships last month. He also finished 11th (4:31.18) in the 500 freestyle and second in the 100 breast stroke.
▪ Jordan Hasay finished second at the 15k USATF Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida, Saturday with a time of 48:40. Hasay, who won the event last year, was upbeat in an Instagram post Saturday despite coming in second place. “50 seconds faster than last year’s win!” Hasay wrote. Hasay plans to compete in the IAAF World Half Marathon on March 24 in Spain in preparation for another run at the Boston Marathon on April 16.