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Pressure Is On After UCSB’s Andrew Checketts Earns Share of Coach’s Award

Coach Chuckie Roth with the San Marcos swimming contingent and his former SBCC assistant coach Sierra Peltcher.
Coach Chuckie Roth with the San Marcos swimming contingent and his former SBCC assistant coach Sierra Peltcher. (Dave Loveton / Noozhawk photo)

Cara Gamberdella, the president of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, made an early announcement when she revealed the SBART College Coaches of the Year during Monday’s weekly press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café.

This year’s winners are Andrew Checketts and Robert Ruiz, the baseball coaches at UCSB and Westmont, respectively. UCSB is 29-10-1 and ranked 16th in the nation while Ruiz's Warriors are 41-9 and ranked No. 6 in the NAIA.

Checketts was a little taken aback, considering there’s still a month left in the Gauchos’ season. The college awards have to be picked early with the SBART’s “Evening with the Athletes” quickly approaching on May 18.

“Thank you for the award,” he said. “We swept Hawaii in a weekend series and then I opened my email. I was honored and humbled to get such a great honor but with 16 games left, I thought ‘Man, I could still screw this thing up.’

“Have you ever called anybody and asked for the award back?”

The Gauchos are 8-4 in the Big West, one game behind the leader, Cal St. Fullerton.

“We found a way to grind out three wins over Hawaii this weekend,” said Checketts. “Austin Bush hit .560 in the series. He’s one of the biggest guys in college baseball. He’s 6-6 and 260 pounds and he hit one just off-center out of our ballpark and it’s only the second one I’ve seen in that area in the last five years. Shane Bieber was great on the mound, giving up one run in seven innings.”

Checketts said one player who goes unnoticed is shortstop Clay Fisher.

“He made his first error two weekends ago at Cal Poly,” noted Checketts. “He had nearly 200 chances before making an error. He’s a highlight-reel player who’s been steady and consistent. If he hits more, he’ll play in the big leagues.

“He’s the best shortstop that I’ve coached in 15 years of coaching.”

The Gauchos, 20-1 at home this year, will be seeking their 17th straight win at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Tuesday when they host Pepperdine at 3 p.m. in a nonconference game.

Westmont: The Warriors took 2 of 3 at Menlo last weekend to clinch their first GSAC regular-season title since 1994.

“It’s our first outright title since 1989 and none of our guys were born when that happened,” said Ruiz, who’s in his seventh season as head coach. “Luke Coffey (third baseman from Dos Pueblos High) returned to the lineup and did a really good job with 4 RBIs in Game 2.”

Ruiz introduced his top assistant and pitching coach Tony Cougoule, who’s helped the Warrior pitching staff lower its ERA for six straight years.

The Warriors are 41-9, tying the school record for wins they set last year, and 25-5 in the GSAC. They’ll host the conference tournament, starting Monday, May 9 and their first game is at 3 p.m.

SBCC: The Vaqueros beat Ventura, 5-1, on Tuesday behind a 4-hitter from Steven Ledesma to clinch their sixth straight trip to the Southern Cal Regional. It’s also the sixth straight year the Vaqueros have finished first or second in the WSC North.

Santa Barbara (19-17) was seeded 15th and will host a wild-card playoff game vs. No. 18 Riverside on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

San Marcos: Head coach Jacob Pepper brought pitcher Mason Metcalfe and catcher Kyle Gonzalez. He reported that Metcalfe, 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA, beat Dos Pueblos last week and Santa Barbara earlier this year.

“I don’t know how long it’s been since we beat Dos Pueblos but it’s been even longer since we beat DP and Santa Barbara in the same year,” Pepper noted. “Kyle made a gutsy decision to move from infield to catcher in the off-season. We thought it was a good idea because we knew he had a great arm. He’s thrown out six baserunners this year and he’s our leadoff hitter, batting around .300. He’s shown a lot of maturity.”

Dos Pueblos: The Chargers (15-7, 5-3) split with San Marcos last week and played the rubber game with the Royals on Monday, just hours after the luncheon.

Coach George Hedricks introduced senior Austin Bull, who’s in his second year as a varsity relief pitcher.

“He had four saves in league last year and this year, he’s gotten into games a lot sooner since we’ve used him to get out of tight spots,” said Hedricks. “He’s our hardest thrower out of the bullpen and he provides a little intimidation, kind of like “The Wild Thing” (from the movie “Major League”.)

Sophomore Dylan Kelley also attended the luncheon. He has four wins after a big game last Friday against the Royals. Kelley threw four shutout innings with six strikeouts in his first Channel League start of the year.

Carpinteria: The Warrior baseball team won four games last week, including two tough battles with Bishop Diego. With two weeks to go, they’re in position to make the playoffs.

Coach Pat Cooney introduced junior standouts David Martinez and Tony Vega. The Warriors have a big challenge this week with two games against TVL leader St. Bonaventure, ranked No. 2 in CIF Div. 4.

Cooney, who’s also the athletic director, reported that it’s Championship Month in Warrior Country. Carpinteria will host the Tri-Valley League tennis championships and the TVL track championships this week. On May 14, the CIF Div. 4 track prelims will be held on the Warriors’ track, followed by the CIF tennis sectionals on May 28.


UCSB: Assistant coach Sierra Peltcher called it “a pretty exciting weekend” as the third-seeded Gauchos won three games in their own pool to claim their first Big West Tournament title.

“The stands were packed and it was a great atmosphere,” said Peltcher.

Samantha Murphy, the SBART Athlete of the Week, had a hat trick in three straight games as the Gauchos knocked off Cal St. Northridge, UC Irvine (7-6 in the second sudden death period) and Hawaii 11-5 in the final.

The Gauchos earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, which start May 13 at UCLA.


San Marcos: Coach Chuckie Roth reported on the boys and girls teams. He said boys coach  Jeff Ashton is doing a great job and trying to win a Channel League title.

“He spent the weekend at the pool, trying to find a way to win the league championship,” Roth stated. “He took a swimmer and taught him how to dive. Brushed him up and he’s in the Channel League diving finals right now. If that’s not coaching, I don’t know what is.”

Roth introduced four-year swimmers and senior captains Brenden Ring and freestyler George Kuesis.

The girls’ team (6-1) was represented by Bailey Gonzalez and Maddie Kriz.

“Bailey transferred from Camarillo High and she’s such a hard worker,” noted Roth. “She works hard every day, and at least once a week she’s in my office asking how she can improve. She’s made a huge impact on our program.”

Kriz is a four-year varsity swimmer and a former school record-holder. She’s heading to the Univ. of Puget Sound to swim next year.

SBCC: The Vaquero women finished 12th and 8th in the State in their first two seasons. Roth, who also coaches SBCC women’s water polo and swimming, says he’s broken down the state meet and feels his WSC champions can get into the top five.

“I scored the meet and we could finish fifth,” he said. “I thought we might have four individual qualifiers for State and we have six. We have all five of our relays seeded in the top eight. We’ve only been to a State final in one relay in school history.

“We’re sitting at fifth but we’re only 25 points out of third, so we’re going to try to motivate all our swimmers. It’s been a magical season.”

The Vaqueros are 41-1 this season. They’ll swim in the State Championships Thursday through Saturday at East Los Angeles College.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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