One year after a disastrous season where the Amador Valley baseball team went 6-18 overall and 1-12 in East Bay Athletic League, the Dons ended the current season with a trip to the North Coast Section playoffs.
Before the season started, I wrote both in this space and in the Tri-Valley Preps Playbook that the Dons had too much talent and too strong of a coaching staff to be bad for a second straight campaign.
And there they were at the end of this regular season standing on top of the EBAL Valley Division. A five-game win streak gave the Dons the Valley title and a spot in the EBAL playoffs.
A 4-3 loss to San Ramon Valley in extra innings didn't keep the team from making NCS. A tough 2-0 loss to Freedom ended the season, but the final records of 18-6 overall and 9-4 in EBAL was a testament to the turnaround.
The team finished with a .313 batting average, with the pitching staff recording a 2.12 earned run average.
Seven players earned All-EBAL honors, with the team also excelling in the classroom, as the Dons earned the NCS Division I Baseball Scholastic Championship Team Award with a combined 3.65 GPA.
Players earning All-League honors were: first team Ross Kobayashi (infield) and Tyler Kubo (utility); second team Matthew Foley (pitcher) and Mitchell Kreider (outfield); and honorable mention Oliver de la Torre (pitcher), Evan Berry (catcher) and Riley Borges (infield).
In addition to the NCS Division I Scholastic Champions team award, individual academic honors included NCS President's Scholar Award (3.8-4.0 unweighted) to Jason Alonso, Kyle Barbera, Kobayashi, Kreider and Alekh Shah; and NCS Honor Roll Award (3.5-3.79 unweighted): Berry, Tyler Candland, de la Torre, Kubo, Brady Lederer and Braden Whitworth.
Panthers finally recognized
Back in 2019 before the world was effectively shut down by COVID, the Pleasanton Middle School eighth grade boys' basketball team went out and captured the Tri-Valley Athletic League title.
Then came the pandemic and everything changed.
Tradition, at least in this area, calls for championship teams to be celebrated with a banner that hangs in the gymnasium. Lost in the confusion of what was going on in the world, there was never any banner created nor hung in the gym.
Thanks to a group of parents of the players keeping the dream alive, Pleasanton Middle School administration confirmed last week that the banner will be made over the summer and hung in the gym.
The players will be entering their senior years in high school and will get a chance to see the banner with their names, recognizing their accomplishments back in 2019.
Coached by Matt Smith, the champion Panthers included Colin Braga, Jake Goldsworthy, Noah Johns, Arjun Kaul, Ranvir Rajoura, Sid Swarup, Ayden Magaro, Noah Mitzenmacher, Braden Nakken, Erik Olsen, Gus Shiblaq, Caden Stedman, DJ Wang and Graham Zander.
Amador swimmer honored
Lilli Chau, a member of the Livermore Aquacowboys and a senior at Amador Valley, was awarded the initial Amerie Nordberg Scholarship from Pacific Swimming.
Nordberg was a Pacific Swimming athlete from Santa Rosa who went on to set records in breaststroke at UC Irvine. The award is given to someone who shows integrity and grit through their academic, athletic and leadership roles.