Paso Robles, Atas­cadero and San Luis Obispo lead stand­ings

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY SCOTT MID­DLE­CAMP

Spring has of­fi­cially sprung, which means base­ball. How­ever, un­like their ma­jor league coun­ter­parts, San Luis Obispo County play­ers are in the midst of the play­off hunt.

The usual sus­pects are lin­ing up in the Moun­tain League, with San Luis Obispo, Righetti and Ar­royo Grande at the top.

In the Ocean League, Mis­sion Prep holds a ninegame win streak and, along with Nipomo, is 2-0 in league play.

Paso Robles tops the soft­ball stand­ings, fol­lowed by Atas­cadero and San Luis Obispo.

Morro Bay leads the Ocean League through three games.

There are about a month of league games yet to play, and with base­ball — and soft­ball — any­thing can hap­pen. Here are some story lines and play­ers to watch from across county base­ball and soft­ball.

SLO’S STAR SE­NIORS

San Luis Obispo se­niors Brooks Lee and Cooper Ben­son have been her­alded ever since they were fresh­men.

And for good rea­son. Each has com­mit­ted to Di­vi­sion I schools — Ari­zona State for Ben­son and Cal Poly for Lee — and each is pro­jected as top-50 high school picks in the MLB draft. But they aren’t the only play­ers to watch on a seem­ingly peren­ni­ally tal­ent-rich team.

Sev­eral se­niors are on a tear for the Tigers, in­clud­ing fel­low Di­vi­sion I com­mit Emilio Corona. The Wash­ing­ton com­mit has two home runs on the sea­son — five other Tigers have hit one.

Sec­ond base­man Wils Guy, leads the team with a .553 av­er­age and has scored 22 runs with 12 RBI. Dalen Righetti is hit­ting .400 with 11 RBI.

Brooks and Ben­son are sec­ond and third, re­spec­tively, in av­er­age on the team, at­tribut­ing for a com­bined 31 RBI, 22 runs and 11 dou­bles.

Ben­son has yet to al­low an earned run in 28 2/3 in­nings, to­tal­ing 49 strike­outs, and se­nior Car­son Si­lacci is 4-1 on the year with a 1.24 ERA.

Paso Robles sur­prised the Tigers in the open­ing game of the league sea­son with a 9-3 vic­tory, ac­count­ing for San Luis Obispo’s (13-1, 5-1) only loss of the sea­son.

Mov­ing for­ward, SLO will be tough to beat. Bar­ring a ma­jor col­lapse, the Tigers should make a deep run in the CIF-Cen­tral Sec­tion Di­vi­sion I play­offs.

OTHER TEAMS IN THE MOUN­TAIN LEAGUE MIX

Ar­royo Grande has re­bounded af­ter a down year in 2018, when the team fin­ished 10-12 in the PAC 8. The Ea­gles have started 5-1 in the Moun­tain League, with their only loss com­ing against Righetti.

The team re­turned top hit­ters from last year in se­niors Niall McCoy, Kadin Byrne and James Gil­met and ju­nior Brady Lache­mann.

The Bearcats shocked the Tigers to open league play but have since stalled and now sit at 2-2. Paso Robles lost Ari­zona State com­mit Hunter Barn­hart, a ju­nior who trans­ferred to St. Joseph.

Se­nior Lu­cas Climer has stepped up the for Bearcats, lead­ing the Moun­tain League with 62 strike­outs in 36 in­nings. Climer has struck out at least 10 in each of his three games this year and has held op­po­nents to a .135 bat­ting av­er­age against him.

Bearcat se­nior Riley Swarthout is hit­ting .400 with 10 runs, seven RBI and three dou­bles in 13 games, and sopho­more Jakob Wright is hit­ting .372 with 12 stolen bases, 11 runs and six RBI.

BEARCATS ON DECK

Paso Robles soft­ball’s only loss in league play came against Atas­cadero, a 1-0 duel. The Bearcats (11-4, 6-1) won the re­match 5-1 on Fri­day be­hind a one-hit­ter by fresh­man Jaiden Ral­ston, who sti­fled the pow­er­ful Grey­hound of­fense. Ral­ston has a 9-2 record and boasts a 0.71 ERA.

While Paso Robles doesn’t have a home run on the sea­son, they are mak­ing con­tact and scor­ing runs. The Bearcats used small ball and timely

hit­ting to beat Atas­cadero on Fri­day, scor­ing their five runs in the first three in­nings.

Se­nior Brooke Milder is hit­ting .400 with 12 RBI, 10 runs, four triples and three dou­bles, and 11 dif­fer­ent play­ers are hit­ting at least .300 for the Bearcats, who only have three se­niors. Paso Robles is go­ing to be good for a long time.

ATAS­CADERO POW­ER­HOUSE

The Atas­cadero (11-5, 5-1) soft­ball team is in sec­ond place in the Moun­tain League stand­ings, thanks to power hit­ting and power pitch­ing.

Ju­nior ace Bai­ley Doherty was no stranger to toss­ing no-hit­ters last sea­son. She has con­tin­ued where she left off this sea­son, no-hit­ting San Luis Obispo. Doherty has 190 strike­outs in 103 1/3 in­nings, with a 12-3 record.

She’s do­ing it from the plate, too. The Cal Poly com­mit is hit­ting .396 and has three home runs on the year — se­nior Bailee Crawford has three homers, and fel­low ju­nior Claire Lo­hayza has two more. Lo­hayza has a .451 av­er­age with 14 runs, five dou­bles and four triples.

The Greyhounds were bounced out of the semi­fi­nals of the CIF-South­ern Sec­tion Di­vi­sion 3 play­offs on a walk-off last sea­son. Ex­pect Atas­cadero to make a state­ment in the Cen­tral Sec­tion.

PLAY­ERS OF NOTE

Base­ball

Nipomo ( 7-5-1, 4-0), sits atop the Ocean League, paced by se­nior Ricky Iniguez, who is hit­ting .509 with seven dou­bles and two triples. Catcher Carmelo Her­nan­dez is hit­ting .475 with 15 RBI, five dou­bles and a homer.

Se­nior Ri­cardo Ro­driguez has been the Ti­tans’ work­horse, toss­ing three com­plete games on the year. Ro­driguez is 4-2 and has a 1.32 ERA over 37 in­nings.

Mis­sion Prep’s (10-3, 2-1) Dy­lan Beavers leads the Ocean League of­fen­sive cat­e­gories. The Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia com­mit has hit nine home runs and three triples, with a .548 av­er­age in 14 games.

Soft­ball

The Ea­gles’ Ash­ley Daugh­erty has dom­i­nated the Los Padres League since she was a fresh­man. The change to a more com­pet­i­tive league hasn’t neu­tral­ized her ef­fec­tive­ness — just her win-loss record.

The Texas A&M com­mit is 6-4 af­ter the move to the Moun­tain League, but has a 1.56 ERA with 143 strike­outs in 76 in­nings pitched. Only about half of her 29 runs al­lowed have been earned (16). Daugh­erty has also hit two home runs on the year.

Tem­ple­ton ( 7-4, 1-4) has an­other crop of young play­ers on the rise. Sopho­more Is­abella Backer is hit­ting .364 with two homers, and fresh­man Izzy Cowne and Mad­die Ge­orge are hit­ting .348 and .333, re­spec­tively.

SLO ( 7-4, 4-2) has a Di­vi­sion I tal­ent of its own. The Tigers will go as far as Ore­gon State com­mit Xiao Gin will take them.

The ju­nior has a 0.89 ERA and 80 strike­outs in 45 2/3 in­nings. Gin is also hit­ting .391 with eight runs and a .600 on-base per­cent­age.

Nipomo (6-5, 1-1) fresh­man Key-anna Pu’a is hav­ing a dom­i­nant year in the Ocean League. The fresh­man has a 1.43 ERA over 73 1/3 in­nings and has 122 strike­outs. Pu’a is hit­ting .475 with four home runs, while se­nior Lisette Co­ria is hit­ting .537 with 17 runs and Mimi Wolf is hit­ting .476 with 13 runs.

SanLuisObispo

Paso Robles’ Brooke Milder tags out Atas­cadero’s Bailee Crawford at­tempt­ing to steal sec­ond base. Paso Robles went on to win 5-1 and leads the Moun­tain League.

SanLuisObispo

Paso Robles fresh­man Jaiden Ral­ston pitched a one-hit­ter against Atas­cadero on Fri­day. Ral­ston has a 9-2 record and boasts a 0.71 ERA.

SanLuisObispo

Paso Robles’ Andie Di­zon hits a two-run dou­ble in the third in­ning of the Bearcat’s 5-1 win over Atas­cadero.

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