Friday, May 8, 2009

Patterson High playoff picture coming into focus

The Patterson High playoff picture is becoming clearer by the day.

Here’s a guide to help make sense of it all:


The Western Athletic Conference champion Patterson High softball team opens the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs against the Mother Lode League’s No. 3 seed Argonaut, May 13 at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton.
The game begins at 5 p.m.


The Tigers (20-3 overall, 13-0 WAC) have won 18 straight, including the dismantling of second-place Hilmar on Wednesday, 13-0, to seal the WAC title.
Patterson has outscored WAC opponents 50-2 since returning from the Spring Break.
Pitcher Mandy Sifuentes leads the Tigers into battle with a record of 17-1. The senior ace also leads the WAC in ERA (0.51) and is second in strikeouts (169).
Kianna Weinzheimer bolsters the Tigers offensive, boasting a .500 batting average, with four homeruns and 23 RBIs.


Argonaut (16-11, 8-7 MLL) closed the 2009 campaign, winning six of its last eight games.
Freshman pitcher Christina Corsaletti heads the Mustang rotation. She is third in the MLL with 12 wins, and touts a 1.97 ERA with 153 strikeouts.
Argonaut is a legitimate threat on the base paths. Three Mustang players rank in the top 5 among the MLL’s stolen base leaders, each with double-digit steals.
Junior Cassie Curran leads the team with 19 RBIs.


The WAC’s second-seed Tigers don’t know who they’ll face in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.
Hughson and Ripon are currently deadlocked for the Trans-Valley League’s No. 2 seed.
What we do know, is that Patterson begins postseason play on May 13 at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi.
The game is slated for a 7 p.m. start.


The Tigers (9-16, 9-6 WAC) were blown out on Thursday, 9-0, by league rival Hilmar.
Still, Thursday’s loss had no bearing on the playoff picture, and Patterson coach Benji Lozano stretched his lineup, making sure every player saw time on the field in preparation for Wednesday’s game.
It’s been a rollercoaster season for the Tigers.
After beginning the year on an 0-9 snide, the Tigers rallied, finishing a game over .500 in their final 17 contests.
Senior pitcher David Gonsalves leads the Tigers with six wins and 77 strikeouts. Junior Tyler Bettencourt added five victories atop the mound.

Girls Soccer

Patterson enters the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs fresh off their first-ever 10-win season.
The No. 3 seed Tigers travel to Angels Camp on May 12 to do battle with the MLL’s No. 1 seed Bret Harte.
The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start.


The Tigers (14-9-3, 10-4-2) ended the regular season unbeaten in four of their last five games.
After struggling out of the gate, Patterson reeled off a four-game winning streak. The momentum powered the upstart Tigers to a 1-0 victory over rival Central Catholic on March 31.
Patterson's Jessica Herrera and Yesica Cantero ranked among the WAC’s top three in shots taken.
Senior goalie Geraldi Saucedo averaged nearly six saves per game and posted eight shutouts.

Bret Harte

The Bullfrogs (14-4-4, 11-1-3) are a formidable opponent, posting an undefeated league record, until Amador got the better of them late in the season, 1-0.
Still, Bret Harte won six of its final seven games.
Sophomore Isabel Houghton leads the Bullfrogs with 10 goals and five assists.
Bret Harte goalie Monica Maschal was solid in front of the net, with 64 saves and 12 shutouts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Local Giants fan gets the Bartman treatment

Steve Bartman is the Chicago fan who robbed Moises Alou of a foul flyout in the eighth inning of what should have been the deciding game for the Cubs in the 2003 National League Championship Series.

Instead, the incident sent the Cubs’ psyches spinning out of alignment and turned what could have been a World Series celebration into another evening of soul torture for the “loveable losers” and their much-maligned fans.

As if it weren’t enough that the Cubs are always nine toes off the ledge anyway. They and their passionate, neurotic fans didn’t need another reason to jump.

Now, leap forward in time.

Enter Patterson’s Jennifer Cozart, who last week, committed a similar — albeit not nearly as historically significant — faux pas.

Like Bartman six seasons ago, Cozart must have been thinking: “Front-row seat. Left-field line. Cool. Maybe I’ll get a foul ball.”

But after she interfered with a double struck off the bat of Milwaukee Brewers infielder Bill Hall in the fifth inning of last Wednesday’s game at AT&T Park — Facebook users can see the video here — three words must have entered her mind:

“Passport. Sunglasses. Nepal.”

But, really.


If you were Bartman or Cozart, you’d have done the same thing.

You’d have stuck out your hand and tried to catch the ball. You wouldn’t be thinking about the count, or about how many base runners were aboard or about how many outs the Giants were or weren’t away from sealing the victory on the second day of the 2009 season.


Especially if you were talking on your cell phone with your sister-in-law.

You’d say, “Get outta my way, I’m catching this baseball.”

You would. Because you are a fan, and in moments such as that, fans are not rational.
Come to think of it, fans are rarely rational.

That’s why fans celebrate world titles and beating Michigan State by burning cars. It’s why Cozart left last Tuesday’s game, escorted by ballpark ushers, ducking food and beer showers.

Nobody who’s rational throws a $9 beer at someone. A $2 beer, maybe.

We realize that these days, fans make a larger emotional investment in their teams than players or management do.

But come on, Giants fans.

Cozart didn’t mean to do wrong. She tried to field a ball that she instinctively deemed foul. Distracted by her phone conversation, the ball, at least in her estimation, was out of play.

She had to leave with a security escort. She could no longer sit and enjoy the game with friends and family. In my opinion, missing a ballgame on a clear night under the lights at AT&T Park is punishment enough.

The ballpark is where we’re supposed to enjoy ourselves. We check our anger at the turnstile. We don’t bring in the hostility baggage. It’s not OK to pelt someone with concessions because they inadvertently interfered with the game.

Fans could stand to apply the emotional brakes. After all, a game is just that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Patterson girls soccer thrives in league

League play is proving to be a remedy for what ailed the Patterson High girls soccer team the first month of the season.

After going 4-5-1 in non-league games, the Tigers have gotten off to a 7-2 start in the Western Athletic Conference.

The turnaround doesn’t come as a surprise to Patterson coach Cade Tomasegovich. After wrapping up non-league play with a loss to Johansen of Modesto, Tomasegovich said, “I am confident that things will improve during league play.”

The Tigers have outscored their league opponents 35-8. Their most decisive victory was last week’s 10-0 rout of host Gustine.

“Our ultimate goal is to finish on top of the WAC,” Tomasegovich said in a February interview. “I know that we are strong enough to finish first, but, our aspirations need to match our potential.”

Despite their terrific start, the Tigers season is far from over.

But, if the Tigers can beat Hilmar on Friday at Patterson Community Stadium, and win all the other games that they are supposed to win, they should be able to assure themselves at least a second-place finish in the league.

There’s a good chance the Tigers will rely heavily on junior co-captain Jessica Herrera, Anayl Diaz and goalie Geraldi Saucedo as the season winds down.

Herrera leads the Tigers with 13 goals and 15 assists. Diaz has added six goals and three assists. And Saucedo has 105 saves and boasts five shutouts.

Still, it’s been a group effort getting this far.

“There are a lot of players providing the foundation of our success so far,” Tomasegovich said. “ We’ve had resolute and inspired goal tending, our midfielders have dictated the rhythm of the game and we have physical play in the defense and goal-scoring abilities from the offense.”

Come watch the host Tigers (7-2 WAC) clash with first-place Hilmar (7-0-2) Friday at 4 p.m.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

McCleery, girls basketball no longer embrace ‘young and inexperienced’ labels

Jason McCleery had something to share on the eve of the Tigers final Western Athletic Conference game of the year.

The Patterson High girls basketball coach chooses his moments judiciously, his words carefully, but it was time. The Tigers listened intently, as McCleery’s voice now seemingly reaches deeper, a voice strengthened with his team’s hopes of making it into the postseason.

Here was the essence of McCleery’s message: The Tigers couldn’t get suckered into the lowered expectations, just like he wouldn’t let them at season’s start. We’re too young? Too inexperienced? Not enough go-to players? Can’t run to the playoffs?

These were notions that a playoff caliber team must shed.

In the opening weeks of the season, the Tigers collected an uninspired 4-8 non-league record and listened to the doubts developing within. When McCleery first stood to talk, prior to the start of the WAC season, he wanted those thoughts out of his teams’ minds.

Get behind each other, he insisted.

The third-year coach approached the team seeking a trust to start the WAC season and insisted that everyone lose any modest expectations, lose the institutional idea that there wasn’t enough experience on the team, and lose the idea that their younger players were not the least bit confident.

Patterson needed to understand: The road to shedding labels begins with winning.
And win they did.

The Tigers took seven of its first eight league games and battled for the rights to first place in the WAC for most of the season with Hilmar and Livingston.

Still, winning at home against Livingston on Monday — locking the two teams in a tie for second in the league standings — hasn’t erased some painful memories for the few remaining players from last year’s team. When the Tigers fell on the road to Hilmar, 37-36, on the final day of the season, missing the playoffs by one game.

Patterson (14-12, 10-4 WAC) may have one of the best records in the league, but McCleery knows it will take more than that to erase those memories and get to the playoffs.

While Monday’s win helps bolster the Tigers — currently No. 16 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings — the team must beat visiting Hilmar on Thursday to help assure itself a ticket to the postseason.
Only the top 16 teams earn playoff bids.

For a “young, inexperienced” team, the Tigers have sure found their identity. And whatever improvements the Tigers have made since their stagnant start, it’s certainly showing up in the win column.

Still, most of the weight rests on McCleery’s shoulders to make sure the team doesn’t spend another year on the outside and looking in on the playoffs.

“Of course we’re going to always have fun and enjoy the game, but at the same time you have to play with a chip on your shoulder,” McCleery said in a December interview. “I feel everyone in the locker room should play with a chip on their shoulder, because we have something to prove.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Patterson High boys soccer is the real deal

The end to the story the Patterson High boys soccer team scripted last year did not measure up to the rest of its storybook 2007 campaign.

The 2008 Tigers (10-2-1, 3-0-1) are once again loaded with talent. The question, however, is can they bounce back from last year’s end of the season heartbreak loss to Livingston?

For talent, Patterson starts with the core of Rodrigo Aldana, who should be one of the most feared offensive players in the Western Athletic Conference, having already scored 26 goals in the young season.

The Tigers’ Gerardo Cortez, Gustavo Molina and Michael Laines have also provided leadership and experience for Patterson against the always-tough conference schedule.

But, what has impressed me the most thus far, is that the success of the Tigers program comes from not being over-confident and playing as a unit. Patterson has scored 65 goals and 59 of those scores were assisted.

Patterson players apparently are encouraged by coach Greg Hartsell to use their creativity more this season. They seem to have moved away from the set plays that produced long passes. While those can lead to easy goals, they can produce more turnovers.

But, perhaps Hartsell’s best decision thus far, was his commitment to focusing on conditioning even before the season began. The team ran, ran and ran some more in the opening weeks of practice working on becoming physically fit.

And, it’s paying off.

Patterson has really learned to open up the field and use the whole field by passing the ball. With the talent they have, they should be able to control the ball much of the time and give it away as little as possible.

Hartsell’s attention to fitness seems to have caught on with the team. They are less-likely to run into problems with teams that play a more physical style.

Patterson’s soccer program has always had a solid pool of talent that forms the foundation of its success. While the Tigers are blessed with great soccer ability, success usually hinges on the team’s ability to center itself and respond to the teaching acumen of the coach.

That, to me, doesn’t seem to be much of a challenge. And, I don’t worry that they are peaking too soon.

The section playoff loss to Livingston was a bitter disappointment and — talking to several players — it hangs over the squad as its No. 1 motivating factor this season.

The competition — especially between Livingston and Hilmar — will not be any easier this season, but the Tigers should be looked at as a contender throughout the season.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tigers ready for upcoming season

The season is upon us when high school kids are hoisted onto a pedestal and created into local football heroes.

And Thursday, the Patterson High football team got their first chance at heavy hitting outside their own huddles.

It’s tough to tell exactly what the scrimmage between the Patterson and Ceres football teams means in the long run.

But the Tigers looked every bit the Western Athletic Conference title contender it’s hoping to be and Ceres looked every bit the inexperienced rebuilding team.

The good comes with the bad in any scrimmage situation, however, and that certainly was the case when Patterson coach Rob Cozart tested his Tigers squad in its final dress rehearsal before next weeks season opener against McClatchy.

Early on, the Tigers offense had their way in the proceedings. Senior Malik Okitukunda ripped off runs of 10 and 12 yards to show that quality running backs remain on campus despite the departure of key players from last season.

Patterson used four different backs on their first possession: Okitukunda, Siaosi Tupouata, Emmanuel Brooks and Larry Taylor.

Tigers quarterback Daniel Reza found plenty of time to spot receiver Ronyea Ellington, capping off the opening drive with a 4-yard score, thanks to the protection provided by the offensive line.

The Tigers offensive line appears to be a team strength, and honestly, that’s not a bad place to start. When the guys up front do their jobs well, everyone else on the unit becomes a better player.

The same can be said for the other side of the football. Patterson started slow on defense but improved as the scrimmage wore on. The stingy first unit allowed only a single touchdown against the much maligned — and overwhelmed — Ceres offense.

Each team had three 15-minute possessions — beginning at the 20-yard line — to execute as many plays as possible.

The Patterson offense was efficient, putting nine touchdown-scoring drives together, including six in the final 15-minutes of the scrimmage.

Reza looked calm in situations that forced him out of the pocket, often times surveying the field before tucking the ball away and breaking off big gain carries of his own.

As expected, Ellington looks to be his number one threat downfield, but junior Jake Saavedra proved to be a consistent option in check down situations.

But, it wasn’t just the first team offense that shined.

Back-up quarterback Wyatt Young showed his agility and break-away speed, scurrying for several big-yardage bursts, including a 56-yard scamper down the sidelines for a touchdown.

The offensive second unit also showed increased depth, including running backs Derrick Brown and Anthony Sanchez.

The Tigers open the season on Friday at home versus McClatchy High of Stockton. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sport imitates life

Why do sports matter?

For starters, sports mirrors life in so many ways. You get the minor ups and downs, the kinds of things that make you happy one day, sad the next. You get the tremendous joys with winning the biggest of the bigs, and the sorrow that comes from those last-minute, heart-breaking losses.

What makes sports so great is that every so often we fans are treated to an event that surpasses nearly everything else. A few short hours that make us forget about office productivity, the bills that need to be paid, the kids’ bad grades in his math class. We sit, entranced, watching stellar athletes compete at the highest levels, under the most pressure their sport can bring to bear.

We, as fans, also love stories. We more than love them, actually, we have a natural need to hear them and to tell them. Stories are driven by conflict, and sports, which is built on conflict in the abstract is a ready-made maker of stories.

Every game is a drama, and so is every season, every era, every career. Follow a sport for any length of time and a narrative begins to emerge. You begin to find heroes, villains, tragedies and happy endings, and you want to keep watching to see what happens next.

Sports also lets us simulate the experience of conflict — the anger, the triumph, the panic, the despair — while protecting us from consequences in real life.

That's why we love sports.