The Minarets Mustangs baseball team (16-8-1, 8-2 West Sequoia League) entered the final week of league play last week clinging to the hope that Caruthers could knock off league leader Fowler.
The Mustangs did their part by beating Fresno Christian (7-17, 1-9 WSL) 15-0 last week with the help of a Christian Conti grand slam. The Eagles were no match for the Mustangs riding a current eight-game winning streak.
Coach Jesse Darrah called on Riley Hillerman to put the exclamation point on a very successful league season for the first-year coach. Hillerman surrendered one hit in five innings of work before being relieved by freshman Aaron Hall. Hillerman helped his own cause, driving in the first Mustangs run of the game on a single with runners at the corners.
The senior has anchored the pitching staff from day one and helped guide the Mustangs to within a game of another league title. Darrah has enjoyed a team flush with seniors including Hillerman, Brendon Bourdet, Michael Warnert, Hayden Alford, Andrew Carrick, Christian Low, Mason Ellis, and Drew LaSpada.
All seniors started the game and played through five innings.
Third baseman Hunter Thompson hit a blooper over first base with bases loaded to score two more runs for the Mustangs. Matt Painter hit a fielders choice to drive in the third run of the third inning.
Painter also contributed some outstanding defensive play at second base.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Fowler (17-8-1, 9-1 WSL) beat the Caruthers Blue Raiders (14-10-1, 6-4 WSL) 3-0 to win the WSL title May 13, with only one loss in league play at the hands of the Mustangs. Minarets finished in second, one game back.
Although disappointed, the Mustangs turn their attention on a Central Section Title as they earned the No. 4 seed in D-V, with a home game May 17 against No. 13 seed Colinga. (12-12-1, 6-4 West Sierra League). See www.sierrastar.com for game score.
Should the Mustangs win they will play the winner of the Sierra Pacific - Foothill game. The Golden Bears knocked the Mustangs out of the playoffs last season. No one remembers it better than Hillerman. The pitcher threw perhaps his best game of the season, holding Sierra Pacific scoreless through 7 innings. The Golden Bears tied the game on an error by the Mustangs and went on to win in 11 innings.
“We are pleased with the No. 4 seed in our division and have an opportunity for two home games in the playoffs,” Darrah said. “I think not getting a bye in the first round could be a blessing in disguise for us because we don’t want to lose the momentum we have built with winning our last eight games. Our team is prepared and hungry to compete for a Valley title.”
Softball team ends season with a win
The Minarets Mustangs softball team (5-17, 2-8 West Sequoia League) ended its season on a high note with their best offensive showing of the season, beating Fresno Christian 11-1 (2-14, 0-10 WSL) on May 12.
The game started with a bang as catcher/pitcher Kelea Kamalani drove the second pitch of the game to the wall for an in-the-park home run. Every Mustang contributed in scoring with multiple hits.
Minarets scored three more runs in the first frame following Kamalani’s home run to go up 4-0. The Eagles answered back in the top of the first with their lone run of the game. The Mustangs put any doubt to rest as they scored another four runs in the second frame to take a commanding 8-1 lead.
Faith Nolan recorded three RBIs with a deep drive to the center field fence to put the game on ice.
Kaylynee Moglia took the mound for the Mustangs with Kamalani behind the plate. The senior had her best performance of the season with highs in strikeouts and a season low in walks. The infield played their best game of the season with Delaney Reardon and Patricia Thomasian shutting down the left side of the diamond with several outstanding defensive plays.
The Lady Mustangs honored their seniors Kamalani, Reardon, Thomasian, Nolan, Kaylynne Moglia and Cheyenne Whitener during the game. The majority of this group of seniors have played varsity since their freshman year.
Missing due to injuries were a couple key Mustang contributors - pitcher Baily Avina and center fielder Aurora Middleton. Avina took the team on her shoulders as a freshman and led the charge for this young group as they played much more seasoned players in the early years.
It was fitting for the team that struggled through the season to end the season with a win.
The Mustangs lost three starters and didn’t get Kamalani, Reardon, and Thomasian until the basketball team ended a postseason playoff run. Coach Kamalani stepped in and brought some stability to the program with the help of assistant Brett Moglia.