Alex Pingree’s superb pitching efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the Big West Conference.
Pingree earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors this past week after throwing three consecutive shutout victories.
The Santa Catalina High alum said she didn’t know the conference had such an honor until Monday, when her coach called to let her know about the award.
“It’s really rare to get something like this,” Pingree said. “It shows that my hard work is paying off.”
There was no breathing room in any of her three wins, as all three contests ended 1-0 in favor of the Gauchos.
Pingree started her run eight day ago against Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She was perfect through four innings in her first 1-0 victory. She didn’t allow a Cal Poly batter to reach second base.
She returned to action on Saturday, getting a win over UC Davis. She allowed two bunt hits and struck out two in a complete-game victory. Her teammates gave her the lead after a run in the fourth inning.
The two teams met up later in the day, and Pingree blanked the Mustangs again. She allowed five hits and one walk while striking out three. And much like the first encounter, the Gauchos got their run in the fourth inning.
Pingree said the first win against Davis was the most memorable of the three 1-0 wins.
“We got (10-) run ruled against them and didn’t want to let that happen again,” she said. “Coming back to win the series is going to help us in the future. We’re hitting our stride.”
She said she approached all three games as if it was just another game. Although she’s pitched some big-time games at Santa Catalina, she said there’s a slightly different atmosphere pitching on the Division I level.
With the games decided by a hit here or a mistake there, Pingree said that helped her stay focused.
“Everything had to go our way,” she said. “Whether it was Davis or Cal Poly, we had to focus on the little things. That’s why I think we’re winning.”
Santa Cruz Warriors
The Warriors just needed one home game to finish off the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. On Saturday, the Warriors led by as many as 23 in their 110-92 victory in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
Six players scored in double figures, including Jeremy Tyler, who led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Two others had double-doubles; Hilton Armstrong had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Taylor Griffin had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Stefhon Hannah had 16 points and six assists.
On Wednesday, the team began its second-round series against the Austin Toros, and they picked up the Game 1 win, defeating the Toros 106-101.
As it has been for much of the season, the Warriors had six players score in double figures. Hannah put in a team-high 19 points to go along with six assists. Tyler had 17 points and six rebounds, and Travis Leslie put in 16 points and six rebounds.
Santa Cruz led 56-49 at the half and held that lead for the majority of the second half.
It’s only the second time the two teams have met this season; the Toros defeated Santa Cruz during the D-League Showcase Series earlier this month in Reno, Nev.
The series shifts to Kaiser Permanente Arena. Game 2 is Friday. If needed, Game 3 will be on Monday.
CCS Top 8
One of the more exclusive track and field meets is scheduled to take place Friday at San Jose City College. It’s the annual Central Coast Section Top 8 meet, where only the top student-athletes in each event compete for medals.
In most cases, each event has just eight participants, the eight student-athletes who have posted the best marks in the CCS leading up to Friday.
Monterey County will be well represented with more than a dozen participants scheduled to compete.
On the girls side, this includes King City’s Jessica Davis, the defending CCS champion in the girls 300-meter hurdles.
Davis has posted the fifth-best time in the 300-meter hurdles this year at 47.07 seconds. Leading the field is Notre Dame of San Jose sophomore Juliana Mount, who has clocked in at 45.51 seconds.
Several county competitors will take part in two events. Greenfield’s Jorge Sosa is slated to be in both distance events. Alisal’s Orlando Sanchez is scheduled to be in the boys 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs. Omar Guzman and Lorenzo Vasquez, fellow Trojans, also are scheduled to be in multiple events.
Palma High’s Marcus Washington, the defending long jump champion, will go into the event as the No. 2 seed behind Mitty’s Matthew Wong. Washington is also set to compete in the 100-meter run.
Villalobos in Virginia
Earlier this month, Alisal High’s Jovan Villalobos battled for two days in what he called one of the toughest wrestling events of the year, finishing 13th in the NHSCA Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.
The annual wrestling tournament pits student-athletes who won or placed in state championships against other champions from around the nation.
Villalobos went 3-2 in the tournament, besting his record from a year ago, when he went 2-2.
He had back-to-back close matches, winning 3-1 and 3-2. With a chance to get into the top eight, he lost to Dan McDevitt of New York, 5-2.
“It’s the toughest tournament in the nation,” Villalobos said. “I started off rough, but I finished strong.”
Villalobos said there were no easy matches, as all 40 competitors in the 170-pound division had the ability to win it all.
“Every single match goes down to the wire,” he said. “All five of my matches went all three periods, very close and tight-knit. By the end, you’re spent.”
With the national tournament out of the way, Villalobos turns his attention to graduating and moving on to the next level. His destination is nearly set, as he is on the brink of signing a letter of intent to go to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix this fall.
The school will move up to Division I status in July. It is the home to current NCAA Division II Wrestler of the Year Tyrell Fortune, who won a national championship in his division and finished with a 37-1 record.
“It’s going to be the place where I can get to the next level,” Villalobos said.
To check out more of what Villalobos had to say about his senior season, head to thecalifornian.com.
* Glenn Cravens is a sports reporter for The Salinas Californian. You can reach him at email@example.com or 754-4267. Follow him on Twitter at @glenn_salnews.