Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis
March is upon us and that means our spring campaign is already underway, while our winter sports have all just wrapped up their seasons. The gorgeous weather of late has made it a great start for the softball, baseball, water polo, track and golf seasons. Meanwhile, the Pioneer basketball and swim teams each capped their year on a high note thanks to excellent performances late in the season and end-of-year honors.
The Pioneer basketball teams made history last week as they swept the CCAA Freshman of the Year award, with Jacari Whitfield and Micah Walker claiming the honors following outstanding rookie seasons. The awards are the third and fourth such honors for our teams since we joined the CCAA during the 2009-10 season. Cal State East Bay also became the first school in conference history to sweep the basketball Freshman of the Year award, while Whitfield and Walker are the only Pioneers in our 50-year history to claim a freshman of the year award in the same sport in the same season.
Both teams also made a late playoff run, with the men falling just short but seeing junior Mark Samuels earn All-CCAA Second Team honors. Samuels led the team in scoring and became the first Pioneer men's basketball player to collect an all-conference award since returning to Division II.
The women won six of their last eight regular season games, including an upset over No. 22 Cal Poly Pomona on Homecoming, to earn the final spot in the CCAA Tournament and claim the No. 7 seed. Though East Bay lost to eventual tournament champion Cal State Monterey Bay, 46-43, it put up a strong fight in the first ever CCAA playoff game. The Pioneers reached the tournament in just their first season of eligibility for the postseason and their second season under Head Coach Suzy Barcomb, who recorded her 250th career win during the 2011-12 campaign. The women also claimed their first All-CCAA selection in Marlene MacMillan who led the team in scoring and rebounding and was one of the conference's leading rebounders, earning her second team honors.
Not to be left out, the Pioneer swim team made history of its own finishing fifth at PCSC Championships to set a new program best. During the championship meet, the team broke 14 school records and posted 11 NCAA "B" cuts. Among the impressive finishes were Jenel Lopez' fifth-place showing and school record in the 100 free and third-place finish in the 200 free, Rachel Knowles' school record in the 200 breast and Sara Bonino's school record in the 500 free in which she shattered her season best by 11 seconds. The team was also honored as a Scholar All America Team by the College Swimming Coaches Association, joining 41 other NCAA teams with a team GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Though the great winter seasons are over, there is still more excitement to come as the spring campaign gets into full swing this month. The Pioneer baseball team earned its first conference wins of the season and under our new coach, Bob Ralston, last week, topping UC San Diego twice. The team will play six conference home games in the next two weeks which are a great way to enjoy the sunshine and support the Pioneers. In addition, the softball team opened the league campaign with a series win and will play four games at home next weekend against Cal State Stanislaus.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer track team opened its first season under Head Coach Ralph Jones last week and will compete at the Aggie Open at UC Davis this weekend. The water polo team is also well into their 2012 campaign, having already posted a win over a ranked opponent and three victories against Division I schools this year. The team will play host to conference foe Cal State Monterey Bay this Saturday at Pioneer Pool.
Finally, the Pioneer golf teams just finished hosting the Pioneer Shootout at Hiddenbrooke Golf Club in Vallejo, where the men took home the tournament title and individual medalist honors, topping 12 teams and seeing Chris Herzog finish first in a field of 70 competitors. On the women's side, the Pioneers finished fourth, led by Andrea Castellanos and Linda Brown, who tied for seventh overall.
With so many great spring sports to watch, be sure to come out and support our teams and enjoy this beautiful early spring weather. Neither will disappoint!
See you out there and go Pioneers!