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Spring sports in full swing

Season underway for athletes at Amador Valley, Foothill

If you are a high school sports fan, there is no better time of year than spring to watch the talented lot of young athletes we have in Pleasanton.

It is the busiest time of the year for high school sports with events seemingly going every day of the week, ranging from right after school until 9 p.m.

At the forefront competitively would have to be East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) baseball.

Last season, MaxPreps -- a national high school sports website -- had the EBAL as the 9th-toughest baseball league in the United States.

"I love it as a coach," said Amador Valley High coach Lou Cesario, who has seen his Dons take North Coast Section titles twice since 2010. "It makes you coach your butt off every single game. There are no easy ones. Last year, every team in the league made the playoffs. There are a lot of expectations, but the kids all understand that."

But it is more than just baseball where this is true.

"The EBAL is tough in every single sport," said Foothill High softball/football coach Matt Sweeney. "It is a very competitive deal in this league."

"It's like a 'Super League' in all sports," said Foothill baseball coach Angelo Scavone, who also competed in a variety of sports at Foothill. "There are super kids everywhere. It makes the coach understand that he needs to explain to the kids that every game is important -- there are no easy ones. It makes it tough on a coach, but it also makes it great."

Amador Valley also has a healthy track and field program, with the boys winning the North Coast Section Meet of Champions team title twice in the last three years and finishing second the other time.

"Our success does set the tone and show the kids what is possible," Amador Valley track coach Peter Scarpelli said. "It does put a target on our back as people want to beat us, but the kids embrace the tradition of the program and don't want to let the past teams down."

Following are brief breakdowns of spring sports at Amador and Foothill.

AMADOR VALLEY

Baseball: The Dons are loaded with seniors and have come out of the gate on fire, both on offense and defense.

Three seniors and a junior head up the Amador pitching corps this season. Will Pickett, Chase Henley and Jack Murphy are the seniors, with junior Anthony Trucco rounding out the four.

AJ Curtis and Steven Nice left the outfield this year to anchor the infield at third base and shortstop. Jacob McIntosh (catcher) and Donald Camello (first base) are other key players for the Dons.

Softball: After the incredibly successful season the Dons had last year, they entered this season with a big target on their back. Undaunted, Amador advanced to the finals of the prestigious Queen of Mountain tournament last weekend.

The Dons got some great play from Courtney Hennings, Sammy Salustri, Courtney Dinelli, Danielle Williams, Sofia Molina, Kaley Moore and Jillian Pluschkell.

Boys' Lacrosse: The Dons figure to be very solid in the back, the strong point of the team. Brooks Bain and Sean Tomonari lead the long poles, with Trey Cranney returning in the goal. Bryan Bottero, Tristan Baylor, Eric Carrolan and Bryce Veit figure to be other key players for the Dons.

Girls' Lacrosse: With the Dons, it never seems to be a case of rebuilding, but rather, reloading.

Coaching together at Amador are former Dons' goalie Caroline Federighi and former Foothill star Chelsea Randel. The two were teammates at the University of Oregon, but now that they have graduated they are back in Pleasanton.

Leading the way this year on the field for the Dons will be Jackie Gilbert. She's the first player from California selected to play for the United States U-19 team and will represent the U.S. this summer in the World Cup.

Other top players for the Dons this year will be Sadie Grozier, Hannah McGillivray, Sami LaBella and Emily Hickey.

Swimming: Amador will once again send some talented swimmers into the pool.

Three seniors, headed to swim in college, lead the girls' team. Iris Brand (sprint freestyle) is going to Wisconsin, Eva Chung (individual medley, butterfly and breaststroke) will swim at UC Davis after high school and Annalisa Parker (backstroke) will continue swimming at Cal Poly.

Junior Caitlyn Plattel (freestyle) and Samantha Howell (freestyle) are two of the other top swimmers.

The Amador boys' team will offer a blend of youth and experience in their top swimmers. Seniors RJ Scott (freestyle and backstroke) and Anthony Jhong (breaststroke) provide the experience, with juniors Alex Gilchrist (IM, butterfly) and Regis LaChance (sprint freestyle) adding some depth as well. Freshman Chris Jhong (IM, freestyle) is being counted on for big things in his first season.

Track and Field: Amador has a solid base on the boys' side, and unproven but talented group on the girls' side.

Jamaun Charles (committed to Washington State) and Zach Beston (Boston College) have both made their college choices, with Chris Bayley and Peter Schlacte both waiting on their choices. Nate Esparza, Dylan Zollinger, Ian Menk and Jake Howard are all expected to be huge contributors this season.

On the girls' side, the 4x100 and the 4x400 relay teams are both showing promise early. Brookey Villanueva and Kirsty Brown are running well in the hurdle races.

Boys' Golf: The Dons have been playing well throughout the early EBAL season, paced by the play of senior captain Will Richardson. Noah Woolsey and Nathan Leung have had good starts to their sophomore seasons. Raza Rizvi and Josh Moroney have also turned in solid efforts as the Dons once again are contenders for league and section titles.

Boys' Tennis: Cullen Plattel, Alex Kim, Richard Yuh and Luke Zhang should be counted on for success on the singles level this season. Early on, the doubles teams of Rahul Pai and Rohan Kota, Eric Luong and Ronak Parikh, and Casey Guan and Jeremiah Cheng have all played well.

Boys' Volleyball: Coach Chris Kim has a senior-laden team heading into the season and confidence levels are running high. The three senior captains are Sahit Menon, Jash Vora and setter Chase Barkdull. Other seniors expecting to contribute this year are Anthony Doty, Trent Snyder, Rory Luk, Keaton Rirdon and Donovan Dy-Liacco.

FOOTHILL

Baseball: The Falcons have shown solid pitching, timely hitting and solid defense at this point in the preseason.

Joseph Danckert and Brett de Geus are the top two arms for Scavone, and No. 3 pitcher Jeremy Lea has a no-hitter to his credit this year.

Nate Jetter is tough behind the dish with players like Vincent Tanisawa and Justin Goodman also playing well in the infield. Ruben Mercado, Jacob Bauer and Ryan Probst also are key players for the Falcons.

Softball: Coach Matt Sweeney fields a team with eight returning starters, and if the pitching holds, the Falcons could be in the thick of things.

Jenna Crawford, Katherine Jefferies, Ragan Lacy, Alana Mendez, Jennifer Ng, Nelani Scates, Megan Shackley and Madalyn Warren are the returners for Sweeney and Foothill.

Boys' Lacrosse: The Falcons lost three all-EBAL players/captains to graduation, plus a highly respected coach, after last season. Then the new coach at Foothill stepped away after three games, but there are plenty of reasons to still be optimistic.

Junior Sean Maloney is in his third year on the varsity for the Falcons. Other key returning players are Daniel Payne, Sam Isola, Ben Smedley, Justin Siliman, Nick Brum and new goalie Dylan Edelson.

Girls' Lacrosse: The Falcons are led by three senior captains in goalie Katie Bianco, middie Ellen Casad and defender Nicole Lindke. Other key players include attacker Laura Belichak, defender Sophia Brown, and middies Erin

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