San Pedro, Banning prepare for dogfight

first_imgAs the San Pedro and Banning softball teams prepared for their highly anticipated L.A. City Section final this past week, two vastly different but equally effective practice methods were on display.On one side, there’s the polished San Pedro program.The Pirates, making their seventh straight trip to the City title game, are remarkably proficient and focused, going through drills with extraordinary efficiency.Then there’s the upstart Banning softball program, playing in its first City title game since 1993 and in the school’s first championship game in any sport since 2000. It’s San Pedro freshman Holly Stevens versus Banning’s Brianna Moeai, both of whom have delivered in the clutch in their team’s biggest games.It’s two proud programs not holding anything back.“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Banning coach Jesse Espinoza said. “Our girls honestly believe we can win. I know we can win. I’m not saying we’re going to win, but I know that our girls can win this game.“They want to do it for themselves for sure, but honestly, I think they want to do it for me because I’ve never been here either, and I’m touched by that.” San Pedro and Banning played in the 1992 and 1993 finals, with San Pedro winning both times. On paper, San Pedro would be considered the favorite, but the teams split during the regular season and shared the Marine League title.Plus, Banning has proved it knows how to win big games.“At first, we were living in the moment, just happy to be here,” Banning first baseman Jackie Reyes said.“But as the game gets closer, it’s getting more serious. We’re going there to win, to give them a fight.” Since San Pedro beat Banning in the 1993 final, the Pirates have won seven City titles, including five straight from 2000 to 2004. Banning has won just one City title, in 1978.But only three Pirates starters — Cecelia Orozco, Vanessa Sphychaj and Kayleigh Raciak — have won City titles. El Camino Real stopped San Pedro, 2-0, in eight innings last year.“Everyone said Pedro would not make it to the championship game this year, and that made us work harder,” Cuico said. “El Camino took it from us last year, and we feel it belongs to us. Now, if we win the City title, we take back our Marine League title.” Orozco, the Pirates’ only four-year varsity letter-winner, said San Pedro’s culture of winning has shaped the Pirates’ youngsters.“There has always been confidence with this team from the beginning,” Orozco said. “We always have someone different come through for us, too. Taylor is always Taylor on the mound, but we have her back offensively and defensively.”Banning, meanwhile, builds off the energy of Espinoza as it tries to build its own tradition.“Jesse’s pumped, and that gets us pumped, too,” Banning outfielder Priscilla Satete said with “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. “We’re ready for this game. This is big for us and big for the program.”Espindola, who usually wears black eye makeup for big games, said she will be ready for the biggest game of her career. “We’re going there to win, to take what’s ours,” Espindola said. “Everything is revolving around this game. We can’t wait to get out of school to practice.“If we’re feeling this good right now, I can only imagine the celebration if we win. We’ll have to party all weekend, get a parade or something.”Cameo: Three-time Daily Breeze Player of the Year Ashley Esparza returned to San Pedro to throw live batting practice Wednesday, giving the young Pirates squad a chance to see one of the greatest Pirates ever. The biggest matchup seemed to be when Esparza faced Koria, San Pedro’s most feared slugger. Dobra told Esparza not to hold back and she got Koria on a great offspeed pitch. “That was great to have Ashley come back, especially with the success she’s had,” Dobra said. “She volunteered, and am I going to say no to that? No way. I think our girls will be a little more relaxed against anyone else now after facing her.”Role reversal: San Pedro shortstop Brittney Banania, who was granted a hardship waiver to transfer from Banning in October, said it won’t feel weird to compete against her former coach and teammates. Banania got the jitters out of the way in the first meeting, when she made two of her four errors on the season in a 6-2 loss to Banning. She was much more relaxed in the rematch, won by San Pedro, 6-0. She said there won’t be any issues this time around. “I’m going to be nothing but smiles,” Banania said. “I’m excited and pumped for this game. I know I’m going to be fine. It’s not going to bother me. My teammates helped me relax after that first game with their words of encouragement. I have to approach it like any other game, but I do want this game more than ever.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champInspirational music from the movie Rocky IV is blaring from a car parked next to the Jaycee Complex, providing a soundtrack for an intense workout.All eyes in the Harbor area will be on this matchup Wednesday at UCLA at 4:15 p.m., a game that is sure to go down for the ages.“I’m sure both towns will close down for this game,” San Pedro coach Tony Dobra said. “The longshoremen will certainly have bets on this one.” It will be San Pedro ace Taylor Petty, coming off a no-hitter in a semifinal against top-seeded El Camino Real, versus Banning pitcher Wendy Espindola, a gamer who has made some big-time pitches in big-time games.It’s San Pedro sluggers Perelini Koria, Korin Cuico and Katelyn Oro against Banning sluggers Ui Judd, Maritza Mejia and Mika Cruz, providing some serious firepower for two of the top offenses in the South Bay.last_img read more

Derek Jeter RBI Singles in Last At Bat, Bernie Williams Serenades Fenway Fans

first_imgBOSTON — Derek Jeter tacked one last hit onto his remarkable career, then waved his helmet in a final farewell to the major leagues.Successful to the very end, the New York Yankees captain hit a high chop in the third inning that bounced off the right hand of leaping Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini. Jeter reached first without drawing a throw, and after a few seconds Brian McCann trotted from the dugout to pinch run.Jeter got a standing ovation as he slowly ran off the field to complete his 20th big league season, pointed to the Boston dugout and embraced pitcher Clay Buchholz.Approaching the Yankees dugout after the team’s last at-bat by a player with single-digit uniform number, the 40-year-old who has worn No. 2 since his rookie season lifted his helmet to recognize the cheers and was hugged on the warning track by Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner. Boston players stood in their dugout and applauded.The ovation continued as others in his dugout congratulated their leader. Jeter’s parents watched from the stands.In the middle of the seventh inning, Jeter’s former teammate Bernie Williams, who is also a classical guitarist, played a moving rendition of “Take me out to the ballgame,” to the delight of the Fenway faithful. The final hit, Jeter’s 3,465th, left him with a .310 career batting average, raising it from 30945 to .30951. And it came at Fenway Park, the same field where Mickey Mantle played his finale exactly 46 years earlier.Jeter had lined out to shortstop Jemile Weeks in the first inning.The last active member of the Core Four that included Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, Jeter led the Yankees to 13 AL East titles, seven AL pennants and five World Series championships. He broke an ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener and was limited to 17 games the following season. He dropped off this year to a .256 average with four homers and 50 RBIs.Before the game, Jeter was congratulated by former captains of local pro teams. During a half-hour ceremony, Carl Yastrzemski and Jason Varitek of the Red Sox, Bobby Orr of the Bruins, Troy Brown of the New England Patriots and Paul Pierce of the Celtics came out of the Boston dugout, one after the other.They shook hands with Jeter, standing on the grass just behind the dirt at shortstop.At the start of the ceremony, the date “SEPTEMBER 28 2014” was removed, one character at a time, from the hand-operated scoreboard on the left-field wall and replaced by “WITH RESPECT 2 DEREK JETER.” Then the “S” in “RESPECT” was replaced by the No. 2.Jeter waved his cap as he left the dugout for his 153rd game at Fenway, including the playoffs, breaking a tie with Lou Gehrig and Mantle for most by a Yankee.Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia presented a base with a No. 2 and blue pinstripes on it to Jeter. He also received a green sign with white characters like those on the Green Monster scoreboard saying “RE2PECT.”A video was shown of Jeter being doused in the Yankees clubhouse as part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” inspired by former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition Frates is afflicted with. Then Frates rode onto the infield grass in his wheelchair and Jeter came in to greet him.Michelle Brooks Thompson, a Massachusetts native from the Voice TV show, sang “Respect” on the infield dirt then Jeter shook hands and hugged her.Jeter sat out Friday’s series opener to recover from his emotionally draining final home game when his single in the ninth inning gave the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles and unleashed a wild celebration as teammates poured from the dugout to embrace him between first and second base.The 14-time All-Star returned to the lineup as designated hitter on Saturday and went 1 for 2.“The hard thing for me about this game is the relationships and how you get used to seeing people every day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “and how abruptly it ends.“Since (he was) a young man signing, really a teenager, it’s really what he’s known. It’s what we’ve known him to be, the Yankees’ shortstop, and it’s hard to believe that it’s coming to an end.”Before the game, Boston manager John Farrell praised Jeter for “a grace and a dignity, an integrity that probably is unmatched by others.”Girardi had expected Jeter to receive a warm reception in enemy territory.“Boston understands what Derek has meant to the Yankees playing him all these times,” Girardi said. “I think it will be done right.”Jeter was cheered when he took batting practice and when he ran into his dugout when it was over.HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Ireland’s moment in the sun comes just as it is setting on Test cricket

first_img Support The Guardian Share on Pinterest What county cricket can expect from ‘big dog’ Virat Kohli’s arrival It is funny to think these great men had the same daydreams as the rest of us. Joyce and Beckett are two famous members of the small band of Irish Test match fans. In the 20th century this was a fruitless pursuit. For the past 140 years the only way an Irishman would play Test cricket was if he got picked for England. Leland Hone was the first to do it, in 1879. Hone, who kept wicket in the third-ever Test, was the first of seven Irishmen to play Tests for England. But there were many more, boys and men, who would have played for Ireland if they had had the chance.Men like Tom Ross, who took nine for 28 against South Africa, and Dougie Goodwin, who took five for six against West Indies in that famous game at Sion Mills in 1969. Men like Scott Huey, who topped Wisden’s first-class averages in 1954. In those days a bowler needed to take 10 wickets to qualify for Wisden’s list. Huey played only one first-class game all summer, against MCC, but he took 14 for 97. Men like Jimmy Boucher, who took 168 wickets in first-class cricket, at 14 each, seven of them for 13 runs against New Zealand.The inaugural Irish Test XI took to the field for the first time at Malahide last Saturday, at least a hundred years later than they might have done. “Tomorrow 11 of us will represent the 688 who have gone before us,” wrote Andy Balbirnie. “Thank you for paving the way for us to fulfil our dreams.”Malahide came as a sweet relief for an Englishman, upwind from Colin Graves’ Ratner-esque blather and the ECB’s steaming pile of “fresh tactical dimensions”. Graves, 70, was at it again on Monday, pontificating on the BBC about what the “younger generation” want. There was never a better reason to switch over to Guerilla Cricket, where it was broadcasting Kevin O’Brien’s fine innings, the first Test hundred for Ireland. It almost set up an improbable victory but in the end Ireland lost by five wickets. Which means Australia are still the only team to win their first Test.Except even in Ireland, where Test cricket was only just born, there was a whiff of something terminal about it. Over the weekend Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand captain who did as much for the format as any other modern player, said in an interview: “I firmly believe Test cricket won’t be around in time, because there’s only so many teams that can afford to play it.”Ireland are not one of them. One could hear it in the words of their captain, William Porterfield, and chief executive, Warren Deutrom. “For most countries,” the latter said, “Test cricket, apart from England-Australia, which is the obvious exception, is a loss-leader.”Ireland are due to play only 16 Tests in the next five years. “It is going to be very hard to organise three- or five-game series with the cost that is involved. It would be great if we could play quite a few Tests a year but it is not financially viable as it stands,” Porterfield added. “That is what it is.” Read more Reuse this content Cricket Since you’re here… Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Imam-ul-Haq helps Pakistan dash Irish hopes of unlikely win in maiden Test Ireland Cricket Team Sportblog Read more Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp North Richmond Street, being blind, is a quiet street. There is nothing there to tell you what went on at No 17, the red-brick terrace house where James Joyce lived as a kid. Round the back there is a courtyard garden, where Joyce spent happy hours batting against his brother John. “I remember having to bowl for him for perhaps an hour at a time,” John wrote. “I did so out of pure goodness of heart since, for my part, I loathed the silly, tedious, inconclusive game.” James was a “useful bat” and “eagerly studied the feats of Ranji and Fry, Trumper and Spofforth”. Years later he threaded the four of them into the text of Finnegans Wake.It was the week for old stories about Irish cricketers. There is another about Samuel Beckett, half-true, about how, when he lived in Ussy-sur-Marne, he would drive the neighbour’s boy to school in his convertible. The kid was so big he could not fit in the bus seats. When he grew up they called him André the Giant. “I asked André what he and the famous author talked about when they were together,” wrote Cary Elwes. “‘Mostly cricket,’ André recalled.” Beckett opened the batting and bowling for Trinity College. He had a first-class batting average of 8.75 and, like Joyce, he never lost his taste for it. Share via Email … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Topics comment Share on Facebook For all our romantic blarney about what Test cricket means to the Irish, Porterfield’s blunt truth is that the chance to play the game is just a bonus that came along with full membership of the ICC, which Ireland were finally granted last year. Full membership allows their administrators to plan not just for six to 12 months but three years down the line, to know what fixtures they are going to get and what funding they are going to get.“So that is probably the biggest thing it brings from Cricket Ireland’s point of view,” Porterfield said, “and Test cricket comes along with that and we are fortunate enough to get that opportunity. But, to be honest, T20 probably has taken over.”One could see that in the scaffolding grandstands. Cricket Ireland had set up only 6,000 seats and it did not fill them. When Ireland play two T20s against India this summer, the capacity will be increased to 8,000. Outside England and Australia Test cricket is a heritage business. The Irish may as well have discovered a sudden enthusiasm for steam trains.last_img read more