SBART Luncheon: Irish eyes smile on spring coaches, athletes

On the eve of St. Partick’s Day, Carpinteria High baseball coach Pat Cooney shared a local story spiced with Irish lore.

Cooney recalled playing a baseball game against a Dos Pueblos team coached by the late Scott O’Leary on St. Patrick’s Day.

Veronika Gulvin

Veronika Gulvin

Chad Visser

Chad Visser

“We had two Patricks on our team,” he said. “We were playing coach O’Leary’s team on St. Patrick’s Day, and that week a snake made its way past our Patrick Crooks at shortstop.”

In Irish folklore, St. Patrick banished all the snakes off Ireland.

Cooney didn’t say if all snakes were banished from Carpinteria’s diamond. But he was looking forward to seeing Patrick Crooks and Patrick McElearney return to John Calderwood Field for Saturday’s alumni game.

As for his team, Cooney said he’s seen development in the preseason games. “We’re headed in the right direction.”

Cooney introduced senior leaders Javier Jasso and Nick Walker.


San Marcos:
coach Jon Newton was a middle blocker when he played for the Royals. He introduced middles Jake Castanha and Ian McLain and said both players are hitting at a high percentage, blocking well and working hard in practice. They were joined by Connor Everman, who has become the Royals’ go-to hitter on the outside.

After taking fifth at the Dos Pueblos Invitational, the Royals open Channel League play Tuesday at Santa Barbara.

San Marcos
: Coach Jeff Swann called this year’s team, “the greatest group of kids I’ve had” in the five years he’s been coaching the Royals. “They’re really gelling as a team; they’re all friends, they get a long really well, they do a lot of activities outside of softball; no cliquey things going on. As a coach, that’s what you want to see: kids having fun and clicking together socially. That’s been a big part of our success.”

The Royals are 6-1 going into Channel League play this week. They went 4-0 at the Santa Ynez Tournament.

Swann introduced senior captain and second baseman Veronica Villarreal and junior outfielder Sarah Douglas. A four-year varsity player, Villarreal’s leadership is a big reason the team has come together, said Swann.

On Douglas, he said she had a big game in a win over Pioneer Valley, going 4-for-4 with two RBIS. This weekend, she’ll be competing for the San Marcos Mock Trial team at the state championships.

Swann said his coaching staff has had a great impact on the team. The staff includes local softball icon Gordy Ortiz, former University of Hawaii player Bryn Buchanan and former San Marcos standouts and recent grads Emily Dietz and Stephanie Swann, the coach’s daughter.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Jon Uyesaka introduced seniors Maddy Buie and Sirena Perez. Buie is a four-year player and the team’s lead-off hitter. Perez is a transfer from Bakersfield and has blended right in with everyone on the team, Uyesaka said.

The Chargers play Rio Mesa in a non-league game on Wednesday before taking on Buena in a Channel League game on Friday.

With the students in final exams, assistant coach Cullen Irons said he and head coach Rick McLaughlin are going to spend the week on the recruiting trail. The Gauchos are coming off a four-set win over UCLA.

“The guys look like they’re figuring their stuff out and are looking to make a final push before playoffs,” said Irons.

Coach Brie Galicinao said the Gauchos signed DP pitcher Veronika Gulvin, the Athlete of the Week. The UCSB coaching staff watched her pitch a perfect game against Pacifica last week.

“We were sitting there talking to her parents and none of us knew she was throwing a perfect game,” Galicinao said with a laugh. “We were talking about the team meals they were going to cook the following year. One of the team parents said something on the last batter, which is bad luck, anyway. Afterward, her parents were like, ‘OK, cool.’” The conversation then returned to cooking.

The Gauchos returned to the field the following day and swept a twin bill.

“That was good. We’re on our way up,” said Galicinao.

The Warriors (22-7) hit the road for their next four GSAC series.

“We’re on the road for a month,” coach Robert Ruiz said. “Hopefully, we can sustain momentum and continue to play well.”

UCSB: Andrew Checketts was in good spirits after arriving back in Santa Barbara at 3 a.m., from a road trip to Wichita State, where the Gauchos took two of three games.

“We’re dealing with a couple of injuries,” he said. “We lost our closer (James Carter) for the year. He’s going to have Tommy John surgery. We’re holding tryouts in the parking lot after this.”

After losing the opener at Wichita State, the Gauchos took the next two games, getting help from players off the bench.

Ryan Clark hit his first career homer in Sunday’s 8-0 win.

“It’s actually the first homer I’ve ever seen him hit, including batting practice,” quipped Checketts.

“Scott Quinlan had a great day filling in for an injured right fielder. He had a great day offensively to carry us,” Checketts said. Quinlan went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

The Gauchos will take a few days off for final exams before returning to the diamond this weekend for games against Texas-Arlington and Dartmouth.

“We’re home for the next three weekends, so if you’re a Westmont baseball fan, come watch us play while they’re gone,” cracked Checketts.

San Marcos: Coach Aaron Solis pointed out that Chad Visser is off to a strong start. “He’s shooting 7-over par for the entire season, when most of regular golfers are 7-over after nine holes.”

But Visser, the Athlete of the Week, still has some work to do to accomplish what his father did this winter. While playing golf in South Africa, Visser’s father sank two holes in one in the same round, Solis reported.

Solis introduced Niels Andersen and Chris Wong and said both golfers have improved their mental games. Andersen, a senior captain, has been especially good on the back nine. Wong’s improvement in course management has resulted in a better scoring average.

The Royals (3-0, 2-0) host Dos Pueblos at Rancho San Marcos on Thursday.

Solis said the team has scheduled home matches against powerhouse teams Woodbridge, Mater Dei, Long Beach Wilson and Robert Louis Stevenson of Pebble Beach. The Royals also will be play in the Champions Invitational in Indio.