Major League Baseball teams open Spring Training this weekend.
All pitchers and catchers of the Oakland A’s will arrive Sunday for their first workout of the 2010 season.
This past week Brad Kilby moved to Phoenix, spring home of the A’s, from his Elk Grove residence hopeful he’ll be on the A’s roster when Oakland throws out the first pitch in April.
“Obviously, my goal is to break (spring training) with the big club and start the season with the A’s and be up there all year,” Kilby said. “That’s my plan. It’s been my dream to spend 10 years in the big leagues.”
Kilby, a left-handed reliever, has been with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats for most of the past two seasons and was called up to Oakland last September for his major league debut.
Kilby says he wouldn’t mind pitching in Sacramento again as an alternative.
“This should be the best River Cats team in the 10-year history of them being (in Sacramento),” the former Laguna Creek High School graduate said. “That’s saying something since they won eight divisional championships and four (Pacific Coast League) championships.”
- Local baseball teams are scrimmaging this weekend, just slightly more than a week after official practices began.
Elk Grove’s Jake Rodriguez is one of the premier high school players around and the senior, already signed to attend Oregon State next season, will be the Thundering Herd’s catcher. In his first three varsity seasons, Rodriguez started at either third base or shortstop and only on occasion has played catcher.
“He’s the kind of player that has the physical tools that he’ll be great at any position he plays,” Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson said. “We’ve been kind of a catcher factory here and we’ve had some great catchers, but Jake might be the best catcher we’ve ever had here.”
That’s quite a statement considering Joey Pilatti played college baseball at Missouri Western, Dwight Childs is now in the Cleveland Indians organization, David Freitas is the starting catcher at the University of Hawaii, Zach Miller is playing at Sacramento City College and Jared Deacon is now at Cal State-Fullerton.
Carlson has had 14 different pitchers taking bullpen the past week. He thinks pitching may be one of Elk Grove’s deepest areas.
- Sheldon returned to the baseball playoffs last season, though they were buried by Elk Grove in the opening game, but head coach John Misplay has many reasons to be optimistic in 2010.
“I have as good a group as I’ve ever had here,” said Misplay, now in his third season. “I have a good group of core players. Most of them have been around this program for three years and know the way we want to run things.”
Misplay may have the best left-handed pitcher in the area, Fresno State-bound Tyler Linehan.
“I’m looking forward to making a run at the league title and make the playoffs,” Misplay added.
- On the adjoining softball diamond, Mary Jo Truesdale is wearing her Lady Huskies’ parka for the 13th season. Her nationally ranked team was upset by Pleasant Grove in the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game last spring.
Truesdale admitted she has put the sting of that loss out of her mind.
“I’m excited and the girls are excited,” Truesdale said. “I think we’re going to be a tough team to handle.”
Alexis Cooper will do most of the pitching with All-American Jolene Henderson now gone. Also graduated is All-American catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt, leaving Dejanae Moore as the primary catcher.
Moore will also pitch this season.
Truesdale says Dejanae, a junior, and her sister Meshalon, a sophomore, have made verbal commitments to play college softball at UC-Santa Barbara.
- The past three years the Sheldon softball team has had memorable games against Elk Grove in the Division I section playoffs.
Sheldon eliminated Elk Grove in the playoffs last season, 13-1, after losing to Elk Grove in the second round.
Elk Grove head coach Jeff Alexander believes his team can return to the section playoffs again this season.
“We’ve got some young pups and several of them will play (for the varsity),” Alexander said. “We lost a center fielder and a catcher and (replacing) the catcher is going to be a tough one. I’ve got a sophomore and a freshman that will compete at that spot.”
His pitcher, Shelby Wisdom, will be one of the best in the section, and with seniors Alex Basquez and Chelsea Suitos, the Lady Herd will have a solid infield, according to Alexander.
- All 14 of Elk Grove’s wrestlers won the Delta Valley Conference championship in their respective weight groups. Tylar Clarke, at 160 pounds, and 140-pounder Shawn Porter each won their fourth DVC wrestling title.
Lefi Letuligasenoa, Elk Grove’s 285-pounder, pulled off an upset by defeating Franklin’s Peter Anguiano, who also reached the state meet along with Letuligasenoa last season and was the top ranked heavyweight in the section by the California Wrestler Web site.
- Pleasant Grove’s Kashae Knox, the section’s defending 200-meter champion, and Jalen Saunders placed third and fourth, respectfully, in the 55-meter dash at California’s first state high school indoor track and field championship at Fresno’s Save Mart Center.