REEDLEY COLLEGE: Reedley College softball splits season-opening DH

Baseball team wins three in weather-rescheduled Tiger Tournament, basketball teams pick up victories

Reedley College softball players Hailee Zapien (Dinuba High), left, and Alexa Valdez (Reedley Middle College High School) celebrate after Valdez scored a run during the Tigers’ 5-4 win over Hartnell College on Jan. 29. Hartnell won the nightcap of the season-opening doubleheader by a 5-0 score. (Danny Jimenez)
Will Goldbeck
Published February 6, 2024  • 
11:30 am

REEDLEY – Reedley College opened the 2024 softball season last week by splitting a non-conference doubleheader with Hartnell College in Reedley.

The Tigers won the opener 5-4 in just over three hours and 11 innings before dropping the nightcap 5-0. A scheduled doubleheader at Shasta College on Feb. 3 was rained out, and the team had a scheduled home doubleheader with Cosumnes River on Feb. 6 before playing a road contest at College of the Canyons on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Hope Ficher (El Diamanté, Visalia) scored the winning run in the opener as Alsssa Everk (Clovis East) reached on Hartnell’s only error of the day, a hard ground ball to shortstop Brooke Siaz. Ficher finished with three hits and three RBI. Her single to right center drove in the tying run in the ninth inning. Ficher finished with three hits while Nissa Gonzalez (McLane, Fresno) had two.

Mia Barbosa (Immanuel) was the winning pitcher in relief of starter Alexis Wright (Tulare Western). Wright went the first seven innings.

In the nightcap, Hartnell scored a single run in the second and two more in the third off of losing pitcher Milee Lerma. Reedley finished with five hits.

Baseball wins three at own tourney

Reedley College is one of two California community college baseball teams with 5-0 records through Feb. 3 games.

The weather conditions wiped out the planned tournament, forcing Sierra to come to Reedley and Santa Ana to host Oxnard Saturday. It took just 80 minutes of action in the first game at Reedley as Will Gagnon pitched the Tigers to a 3-1 victory before giving way to Gio Gropetti in the seventh inning.

Gagnon struck out 15 batters in six innings (for the second time this season). Sierra’s only run scored in the second inning on a home run by Conner Smith, his third homer of the young season.

Reedley had scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning. Mike Collins hit a solo homer in the fourth for the game’s final run. Reedley High product and UCLA recruit Gagnon went to a three-ball count just twice, with 58 off his 79 pitches called strikes.

Not to be outdone, freshman southpaw Francisco Espejo (Clovis East) had a perfect game in the opening game until one out in the sixth when Aiden Kulbek singled up the middle. Daniel Parker retired all three batters in the seventh.

The Wolverines sent 46 batters to the plate in the two games and just four reached base. Reedley pitchers did not allow a single walk on the day and went to a three ball count just six times.

On Jan. 30 in Rocklin, the Tigers used three-run rallies in the fourth and fifth innings on the way to a 7-6 win over Sierra. Brody Block drove in three runs for the winners while Mykey Ramirez scored three runs. Jacob Crain was the winning pitcher while Groppetti recorded the save.

Reedley had a scheduled Feb. 6 road game in San Luis Obispo against Cuesta College rained out. The Tigers then travel to Monterey Peninsula on Thursday, Feb. 8 before hosting the Lobos on Saturday, Feb. 10 in a 1 p.m. start.

Men’s basketball ends slump, wins two straight

After breaking a nine-game losing streak last week, the Reedley College men’s basketball team has now won two games in a row.

Coach TJ Jennings’ squad improved to 2-6 in conference and 6-14 overall with a 78-70 home win over West Hills Coalinga on Feb. 3 after defeating a 16-5 College of the Sequoias on Jan. 31 in Visalia.

“It was a total team effort,” said the coach. “I’m so proud of them as they deserved this victory.” The team van was involved in a traffic accident in December in the Sacramento area. One game in the Cosumnes River Tournament was canceled due to the accident.

Against COS, a basket by Kyriaun Davis with 14 seconds remaining proved to be the difference. Kecian Primes led the winners with 18 points. Jayden Abuyen followed with 14, Davis added 11 and Matt Ruegge netted 10.

The Tigers came back home to Reedley’s Paul Mitchell Court and defeated West Hills. Reedley rallied from a 46-37 halftime deficit. Abuyen led the winners with 20 points while Davis netted 16 and 10 rebounds. Ruegge had 16 points while Primes added 11.

Rollercoaster week for women’s basketball

It was an up and down week for the Reedley College women’s basketball team. After moving into sole possession of second place in the Central Valley Conference with a 67-60 victory in Visalia on Jan. 31, the Lady Tigers fell 78-71 to nemesis Taft at home on Feb. 3.

The loss dropped Coach Dan Kilbert’s Tigers to 5-2 in conference play and 14-8 overall. They return to action Feb. 7 at home against West Hills Lemoore before a bye on Saturday, Feb. 10.  That’s followed by a Wednesday, Feb. 14 contest at first place Fresno City College.

In the loss to Taft, the Tigers allowed 52 points in the second half. Tianna Sutherland of Reedley led all scorers with 23 while Leyocha Marigney followed with 17 points (despite making only three of 11 free throws) and 20 rebounds. Reedley made just 16 of 30 from the foul line.

The Tigers rallied from a 40-28 halftime deficit against COS, outscoring the hosts 39-20 in the second half. Marigney led the winners with 23 points, 25 rebounds and five blocked shots. Karisma Truong followed with 12 points while Makayla McGrath and Delfina Newsome added 10 each.

Will Goldbeck
Mid Valley Times | Contributor