Aleman a favorite in Special Olympics and at Bishop

Juan Aleman’s enthusiasm filled the Ranchero Room at Harry’s during this week’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Luncheon.

Aleman, who was honored as Special Olympian of the Month, is not only a standout basketball and softball player but also an important member of the Bishop Diego athletic community.

“He comes out and shags balls for us and helps with the equipment. He’s a great kid, and everyone really likes him,” said Cardinals baseball coach Brian Moulton.

Volleyball coach Joe Reiken also read a statement from Bishop Athletic Director Dan Peeters regarding Aleman.

“He has served as a volunteer with the football program for the last three years, assisting with game-day preparations, water and ball-boy duties. His involvement is invaluable, and we’re grateful for all of his service,” wrote Peeters.

Aleman, known for his “teardrop” shot on the basketball court, was beaming throughout the luncheon.

Moulton’s baseball team had quite a day Saturday down at Compton Centennial High School, defeating the Apaches 12-10 and 11-7 to sweep a doubleheader.

Male Athlete of the Week AJ Fling had a monster day, hitting a bases-clearing triple to go along with a double and homer. He racked up eight RBIs and also picked up the win in the second game, pitching five innings of 3-hit ball.

“Our bats were kind of sleepy to start, but AJ really woke us up,” said Moulton. “Balls were flying all over the park.”

Moulton also introduced Dez Vanderfin, whom he said could be the best outfielder to ever play at Bishop.

This week’s female honoree also came from the ballpark.

Like Fling, Carpinteria’s Nicole Pearce had a jaw-dropping stat line over a pair of victories for the Warrior softball team.

The mercy-rule wins over Bishop and Santa Ynez provided only 12 innings of play, but Pearce racked up a month’s worth of numbers. She went 5-for-7 at the plate with two singles, a double, two homers and 10 RBIs as well as two sacrifice flies. In the circle, she pitched seven innings, striking out 12 while allowing only three hits and a run.

“She just had two perfect, amazing games,” said coach Devany Bechler.

Teammate Coco Crowfoot has also been turning in great performances, especially a recent 3-for-3 day at the plate with two doubles, and RBI and a run scored. She’s also a top pitcher for the Warriors.

One swing of the bat was all San Marcos baseball player Andy McCumber needed to earn honorable mention for Athlete of the Week. He hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the fourth inning of a 14-8 comeback win against Taft. The Royals trailed 6-1 at one point in the game. Coach Rob Crawford described McCumber as an emotional leader for the team.

“When he hit that home run, he was on cloud nine for about four innings and it really pumped everybody up,” said Crawford.

Also representing the Royals was junior reliever Shane Wieland, who has allowed just two runs and five hits in seven-plus innings of work.

The San Marcos softball team is speedy on the bases this year, and now all the Royals need to do is get more of those runners on base. Coach Alex Sheldon pointed to last week’s loss at Fillmore as an example.

“We had some at-bats that we wish we could have had back and then we had some real good at-bats where we hit balls hard but they were always right at somebody,” he said.

The team did, however, score 12 runs in a win over Channel Islands last week.

Freshman catcher Jocelyn Flattery has been one of the stronger hitters on the team thus far and has taken on plenty of responsibility behind the dish in her first year. Junior outfielder Becky Estrada has shown terrific speed in her first varsity season, and LeAnne Fretz has been a do-it-all utility player.

Out at UCSB, the women’s softball finally returned home after a 22-game road trip. The Gauchos went 11-11 on their journey, then came back and swept a doubleheader against the visiting University of San Diego Toreros. Assistant coach Caitlin Benyi said that the group has a lot of talent and veteran leadership this season. The Gauchos are off until traveling to play UCLA on March 24th.

UCSB’s baseball team has continued its stellar play early in the season, moving up to No. 22 in the country after producing a whipping 41 runs in its past three games, all wins against St. Mary’s. Robby Cummings has hit five homers in the past five games, while Eric Oliver had two homers, a double and eight RBIs in Sunday’s 25-11 win. Shortstop Ryan Cavan is also have a great campaign, hitting nearly .500.

Steve Lass has had a bizarre season so far with his team, after his UCSB golfers went a solid 52-22-3 during its Fall season.

“I said, ‘You know, if we can perform at that level with a mediocre work ethic, what can we do if we really work hard?'” said Lass.

Well, they started working really hard and are a dismal 17-34 in the Winter season. Lass took two lessons from the experience — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and hard work pays off, just not always when you want it to.

So don’t shun hard work, kids.

Aaron Solis fancies himself as the Golf Operations Director (GOD) at San Marcos, and reported that the young Royals golf squad is just starting to round into form. The Royals have a busy week on tap, and Solis said that it is a prime opportunity for them to show what they’re made of. He brought three of the team’s leaders along with him to Harry’s.

Juniors Scott Bradford and Dodge Ward have been neck-and-neck for much of the year with regards to the top spot on the team, while senior Peter Wilson (son of SBART President Rick) has continued to improve throughout his career and is what Solis called “the epitome of a student-athlete.”

Bishop Diego’s Pete Georgi rounded out the golf contingent by speaking of his Cardinals team, which consists entirely of juniors. Georgi was classmates with Moulton and Santa Barbara News-Press sportswriter Mark Patton in high school at Bishop Diego.

“Maybe someday you kids will stay involved in the community and come back and coach and honor some athletes at the Round Table,” he said to the youngsters in the crowd.

This week, he honored captain Scott Grimes and Joon Hu.

Roger Kuntz said it right when he remarked that we’ve got some great volleyball up here in Santa Barbara. His San Marcos boys squad is no exception, and the Royals have had quite a busy start to the season, playing 11 matches in the first two weeks.

Kuntz hadn’t been back to Bishop’s Brickhouse since he coached the Cardinals in 1990, and he went back last week and emerged victorious in four sets against Reiken’s talented squad.

“We were in a dogfight over there,” said Kuntz.

The Royals went on to play in arguably the toughest pool at the weekend’s Best of the West tournament in San Diego, finishing fourth in the bronze division.

Kuntz was accompanied by Neil Greene, the team’s most consistent player thus far, and junior outside hitter/libero Caleb Ibsen.

After falling to the Royals, the Cardinals were well-prepared for Friday’s home match against a formidable Santa Ynez squad which features UCLA-bound Jon Bridgeman.

“We were a different team from the San Marcos game to the Santa Ynez game,” said Reiken.

The Cards are in the Dos Pueblos Invitational this week, but first have matches against St. Joseph, Malibu and Cathedral.

Reiken introduced senior outside hitter Martin Watts, senior libero Michael Schlesselman and sophomore Spencer Shull.

Shull, who stands at 6-7, just started playing the game.

“He’s been playing for about three weeks and is doing amazing. You’re going to see some great things out of him in the coming years,” said Reiken.

Chad Arneson’s Santa Barbara High spikers took an impressive third in the gold division of the Best of the West tourney over the weekend, and are set to play non-league nemesis Valencia at home on Tuesday. Arneson said he was pleased with how the weekend went and was looking forward to this week, which also includes matches against Ventura and Loyola, the No. 2 team in Division I.

Arneson announced that setter Sam Biscaro, who was at the luncheon, has committed to play at the University of Hawai’i next year. The coach brought along two other top college prospects from his squad, seniors Taylor Fauntleroy and Chris Pratt.

SBCC men’s volleyball head coach Melody Parker said she knows that her team is capable of big things, but the Vaqueros currently find themselves dealing with a 4-game losing streak and a record of 4-6, 0-3 in the Western State Conference. Joining Parker were two of the team’s top players, freshmen Max Acker-deOliveira and Adam Frank.

If you’re nursing a sports-related injury this coming Monday, you should probably stop by Harry’s. All of the local athletic trainers will be honored at the next luncheon.