SBART Luncheon: Walker, Checketts shine a light on baseball teams

Providence basketball players, from left, Judah Luberto, Caleb Jones, Matt Eaton, and coach Steve Stokes.

Providence basketball players, from left, Judah Luberto, Caleb Jones, Matt Eaton, and coach Steve Stokes.

While lights are still on the wish list for the UCSB baseball program at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, SBCC has the option to play in the evening at its home field of Pershing Park. The Vaqueros, in fact, have already done so. They played a 12-inning, 4-plus hour game against Glendale that was completed under the lights.

“Yay, there’s lights,” SBCC baseball coach Jeff Walker said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon. “We do have the ability to play a night game.”

Walker joked that Glendale was so interested in seeing Pershing Park lit up, it continually threw pickoff attempts to first base in the marathon game.

“The big thing was Glendale really, really wanted to see our lights, so they kept picking, picking and picking,” he cracked in his deadpanned delivery.

SBCC eventually won the game on a walk-off hit.

The Vaqueros (5-1) play host to East L.A. on Thursday and open Western State Conference play on Saturday against Moorpark.

UCSB baseball: With SBCC losing its first game of the season last Saturday, Gaucho coach Andrew Checketts cracked: “We’re the only undefeated baseball team in town.” He then added: “Of course we haven’t won a game yet.”

The Gauchos open their season Friday against BYU. They’ll play a four-game series with the Cougars to kick off an attractive home schedule that includes nonconference games against Kentucky, Oregon and Fresno State.

UCSB is projected to have strong team this season.

“We have an older, experienced team this year,” Checketts said. “We’re currently ranked in the top 20, and we’re 16th in one poll. Seventeen must not be very good because I just watched 16 practice, and we were horrible. We got some work to do to get off the paper and onto the field, and make sure we play well.

“It should be an exciting season,” Checketts added. “Hope to see you at the ballpark. It’s still at 2 o’clock.

“We’re still working on those lights.”

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

UCSB Men: Assistant coach Brandon Veltri said the Gauchos have a favorable schedule as they enter the second half of the Big West campaign.

“The top three teams in league are coming to our place in the second round,” he said.

Veltri added that injured Alan Williams is expected back during the second half of conference play. The Gauchos are 3-5 without him in the lineup.

Westmont men: Coach John Moore gave props to assistant coach Zac Zepponi.

“We’re very fortunate to have him in our program,” he said. “One of the things we depend on these days in college coaching is scouting. Zach is one of the greatest scouts we’ve had in our program in all my 22 years.”

The Warriors are on roll right now, having won nine of their last 11 games.

Westmomt women: Coach Kirsten Moore is ecstatic how her team is playing. The Warriors recently knocked off the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in conference on the road after losing to both at home.

“My team has really grown,” she said. “It was an absolute joy to see how much we’ve improved over the year.”

She called the wins at Concordia and Master’s “two of the most memorable games of my career.

“I tell the players, ‘You go to the highest academic school in the NAIA. We’re smarter than everyone we play. We need to show that on the court.’ So we break it down to nth degree. The first time we played them we learned and we got in with a game plan. We’re mixing things up and our girls are playing really good basketball.”

BOYS BASKETBALL
Santa Barbara High:
Coach David Bregante expressed his thanks and appreciation for his assistant coaches: his son Joseph Bregante, Corey Adams and Will Gonzalez.

“They’ve been instrumental in our success,” he said.

Max Henderson  is a clutch shooter for Santa Barbara High.

Max Henderson is a clutch shooter for Santa Barbara High.

The Dons won their third straight Channel League title and are 23-4 on the season.

Bregante introduced guard Max Henderson, the Athlete of the Week, and raved about his clutch shooting.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a kid hit so many key shots at key times in games,” he said. “I bet you it’s been a half dozen to 10 times in a game where he just hit big shots at big moments.”

Henderson hit 5 of 6 3-pointers in the second half to help the Dons break open a two-point game at halftime and win going away at Ventura to clinch the league title.

The Dons travel to Rio Mesa for a non-league game on Tuesday and close out the regular season at home against Buena.

Providence: The Patriots play at Laguna Blanca for the Condor League title on Wednesday.

Coach Steve Stokes introduced three key members of his squad: Matthew Eaton, Caleb Jones and Judah Luberto.

He called Eaton, consistent and efficient. He’s scored in double figures for 26 consecutive games. Jones is a tough defender. He guarded Besant Hill’s standout 6-8 player in a recent win and held him to eight points. Luberto, a freshman, has made great improvement in his decision making.

“These three are a big reason why we’re in position win a championship on Wednesday night,” said Stokes

GIRLS BASKETBALL
Santa Barbara High:
Assistant coach Jess Martinez informed the luncheon crowd that junior Amber Melgoza is the top scorer in the state and No. 3 in the country with a 34.4 points per-game average.

“She is on her way to becoming the best scorer in program history,” he said.

Martinez was quick to point out that Melgoza’s teammates play a big part in her scoring.

“She’s incredible but the supporting cast she has is incredible too,” he said.

Martinez noted that junior Jada Howard is starting to pick up her point production. “She knows she has to contribute because Amber is being double teamed.”

Howard is ranked in the top 20 in the Southern Section in steals and assists.

Hannah Rogers had a 20-20 game for Bishop Diego.

Hannah Rogers had a 20-20 game for Bishop Diego.

Santa Barbara (19-5, 5-2) plays Wednesday at home against Buena (4-3 in league). Martinez said a loss could hurt the Dons’ playoff seeding.

Bishop Diego: Coach Jeff Burich raved about the play of post player Hannah Rogers, the Athlete of the Week honoree.

“We changed our whole offense when she came to the varsity last year,” he said. “We want to set an inside presence.”

Rogers had 21 points and 20 rebounds in a game last week.

Burich also introduced Summer Soto. “She’s one of our better 3-point shooters. Watching her progress has been very encouraging.”

The Cardinals (16-8, 4-4 Tri-Valley League) plan to honor Greer Shull at halftime of Tuesday’s home game against La Reina. Shull held the all-time scoring record until it was broken last week by Jordyn Lilly. She remains the school’s all-time 3-point shooter with 121 threes in her career.

PREP SOCCER
Bishop Diego:
The Cardinals have been playing with 11-12 players for most of the season.

“They play hard and consistently battle,” said Jason Donnelly, filling in for coach Josh Rodezno. He introduced Ashlee Cordeiro, a tough defender, and Isabella Gregson, one of the best athletes on the squad.

San Marcos: Boys assistant Matt Bateson said the Royals girls are battle for a playoff spot this week. A win over either Dos Pueblos on Tuesday or Ventura on Thursday should clinch a postseason berth.

On the boys side, the Royals are playing for pride. He introduced outside backs Pablo Santiago and Sean Estabrooks and called them the heart of the team.

Carpinteria girls: Assistant coach Lucy Carleton reported that the Warriors are “solidly in second place” in league. “We have to win out and someone else has to lose to be in first place,” she said.

Carleton said Natalie Saito is the cornerstone of the team. She can play any position on the field, including goalkeeper.

The coach said Kelsie Bryant has the middle name of Manning, after the Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. And it fits.

“She’s pretty much the quarterback of the team,” said Carleton.

COLLEGE SWIMMING
UCSB:
The Gauchos are entering their postseason. The men’s went finished 6-2 in the MPSF and the women 4-6 in dual meets. The federation championships are next for the tams.

“There’s a lot of energy and lot of enthusiasm,” coach Gregg Wilson said. “The goal is to be in the top 3 with the men and women. The athletes have a different goal.”

Wilson introduced breaststroke specialist Tyler Jean and distance swimmer Andrew Barman.

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