The East Bay Athletic League spring sports season is the busiest time of the year as nearly every inch of field, pool and gym seem to be taken every afternoon. Following is a breakdown of the Amador Valley and Foothill teams.
Amador lost seven of nine starters to graduation last year, but the Dons will have a solid base to start.
The Dons bring back three pitchers in Anthony Trucco, TJ Myers and James Cowick. Behind the dish is Cade Lau, a senior who was the backup last year.
Around the horn, first base is still an open competition, but the other three spots are taken, with Connor Mayes at second, Cal Loughlin at shortstop and Vince Russo holding down third.
Two of three outfield spots are filled with Patrick Loughnane and Cole Torquemada.
For crosstown Foothill, it is going to be a wait-and-see kind of season as newcomers transition in with returning players.
The defense starts with the middle of the field. Shortstop Ruben Mercado is back and joined by Justin Goodman at second. Giovanni Caponigro is back behind the dish for the Falcons.
Joey Lea returns on the mound with Jake Wilson and Logan Caton also being counted on to pitch.
In the outfield, Troy Bachand and Tyler Wineger return. Ryan Sweeney is also back as the designated hitter for Foothill.
Foothill will send out perhaps its strongest team in some time, as the Falcons return seven starters -- six of whom will be starting for the third year.
Nalani Scates (P), Ragan Lacy (C), Maddie Warren (1B), Megan Shackley (SS), Alana Mendez (CF) and Jenna Crawford (IF/OF) are the six who give the Falcons huge depth and experience.
Yoko Penny (3B) is another returning senior that started last year. Mary Rockwood (IF/OF) and Karen Didio (P/IF) are other key returners for the Falcons.
Freshman Hope Alley (OF) will fight for playing time, and sisters Taylor and Kelsey Congdon, as well as Izzy Lopez, will all be counted on to contribute.
Amador earned its second straight North Coast Section title last year, led by freshman pitcher Danielle Williams. Now a sophomore, Williams puts the Dons in contention to win a third straight NCS crown, not just the EBAL.
Hannah Myers, Sofia Molina, Jillian Pluschkell, Alex Sanchez and Anamaria Beard are also solid returners for the Dons.
The Falcons have been a force for some time and their heavy credentials the past decade speak volumes: six EBAL Championships since 2008; seven NCS Championships and one runner-up finish since 2006; four NorCal Championships, one runner-up and one third-place finish since 2007; and six appearances at the CIF State Golf Championship since 2007.
This year they appear solid as well. The Falcons have three top seniors in John Fracisco, Heetae Yang and Parker Jameson to go with juniors Raj Chekuri, Alex Chin and Chase Godi for a solid core.
Amador returns the NorCal co-medalist from last year in Noah Woosley. Others returning are Andrew Chern, Nathan Leung and Josh Moroney.
Track and field
Foothill will enter the season with a solid base of athletes. On the girls' side, juniors Sarah Brocha, Mikayla Tran and Ariana Nino will join sophomore Abby McKeag and senior Rachel Ose as key contributors.
A quartet of boys are expected to lead the way for Foothill.
Seniors Matt Gates, Jonathon Dourneau and Ross McCabe will join forces with Bailey Roker for a solid core group of sprinters.
Amador is always strong in numbers, and this year it seems the same again.
For the boys, Rohit Menon, Will Gushurst, Trent Osaki, Jovan Perez, Brett Walsh, Alex Laurence, Andrew Helmers, Ian Menk and Nathan Esparza will lead the way.
The Amador girls will be paced by Megan Shih, Samantha Lai, Madison Perez, Emily Tincher, Melodie Laroudier, Rebecca Holley, Annaka Green, Brookey Villanueva, Megan Cavanaugh, Alexis Andres and Tori Palma.
It will be much of the same as the last two years for Foothill -- find a setter and the team will be solid.
Whoever plays setter will have some solid hitters to share the ball with this season.
Edgar Alaniz, Sean Hsu and Max Kelly all return for the Falcons. Clayton Marceau, Robert Lee and Brent Gibson are among those looking for the setting position.
Amador will count on four senior starters to lead the way this season.
Rahul Patel (OH), Jake Marchi (OH), Max Husbands (MB) and Nick Scheele (S) give the Dons depth at crucial spots.
If experience and senior leadership are key to a team, then Amador is starting with a full house this year.
In the cage for the third year will be Trey Cranney. In front of Cranney will be a pair of players also in the third year on varsity. Sean Tomonari and Jacob Lum give the Dons a solid start on defense. Shane MacDonald also figures to be a prominent defensive player.
In the midfield, Ryan Racer is in his third year of varsity play. Alex Pappis is back for the third year as well. Ben Highfill and Todd Ristow round out the top four in the middle.
Up front, the Dons have Brody West, Bryce Veit and Jake Newman.
Foothill has some talented players that are in their fourth year of varsity play.
Sean Maloney, headed to Hofstra next year, and Brian Dentler have been staples of the Foothill team for the past three years. Christian Meekens, Sam McGee, Alvin Carroll, Donnie Morrisey and freshman Tyler Sensiba are other key players.
Amador returns 11 players to this year's team.
Senior goalie Amanda Stapp is joined on the defensive end of the field by senior captain Juliana Leedeman and junior Emily Hickey. Up front, the Dons welcome back another senior captain Charly Hennegan and a junior captain Sadie Grozier.
Foothill comes into the season with 10 returning players, but will still be young as only two seniors dot the Falcons lineup.
Jessica Hewlett and Sophia Brown are the lone seniors this year. Hewlett is a stellar defender and Brown is a four-year varsity player that was a first-team all-EBAL selection last season.
Erin Schafer is only a sophomore, but a good one, already committing to Brown University. Junior Jacqueline Templeman is a junior who has locked in to play for UC Davis after high school.
A pair of juniors will be looking for time in the goal with Rashika Sunku and Alexis Simmons both showing promise.
Swimming and diving
The Foothill girls team will bring a blend of talent to the EBAL this year.
Seniors Kennedy Truex, Ryane Skinner, Paige Heacox, Hailey Morse and Olivia Larson will team with junior Maddie David and freshman Elisabeth Balicanta to lead the swimmers, with Emily Balicanta and Isla Andrews as the top divers.
On the boys' side, seniors Joe Schafer, Jonathan Mui and Jeffrey Tang will be joined by junior Aaron Li as leaders. The Falcons also expect a lot from freshmen Jonah Cooper, Nick Skinner, Calvin David and Calvin Chui. Rob Harries and Cameron Levine are the top divers.
The Amador girls squad is looking for good swims from Caitlyn Plattel, Samantha Howell, Jacqueline Davis, Amber Fornoles, Jenna Brown, Emily Claridge and Marissa Lawrence.
The Amador boys have some talented swimmers as well, with Alex Gilchrist, Regis LaChance, Eric Li, Jack Naughton, Chris Jhong, Cole Reznick and Wolfgang LaChance leading the way.
Seniors Abhisek Sahoo, Luke Zhang and Eric Luong are the experienced leaders for Amador.
Freshmen Eswar Ramineni, Vedhant Kaliyur and Ethan Allavarpu had very solid non-league campaigns. Finally, sophomores Casey Guan, Jeremiah Cheng (singles) and Rohan Kota (singles) all return from last year.
Fellow sophomores Jaewook Lee, Pranav Praveen, Dario Tommasini and Carl Yahata-Pettersson have stepped up from the junior varsity team to contribute.
After finishing second in league last year, Foothill returns this year with a mix of veteran players and some very talented new players which could make this year's team even stronger.
The Falcons will be led by seniors Andy Francis, Daniel Yang and Patrick Maund, juniors Cliff Moran and Arnav Patel, sophomores Kyle Thompson, Ben Chen and Jared Tay -- all of whom played major roles in last year's success.
Four talented freshmen in Akash Patel, Alex Yang, Shreekar Eedara and Dylan Weiglein figure to make some noise.