The baseball team has both new faces and many experienced players.
Coach Chris Millsback is especially delighted that the team has more pitchers, including juniors Erik Morfin-Ruiz, George Cvetich and Ethan Ham, who pitched last year. Freshman Emil Erickson will also pitch.
“That’s one of the key things this year—to have our guys throw strikes, get ahead of batters, get us off the field and try to score some runs in,” Millsback said.
Millsback also said new players will strengthen the team. Freshman David Boley plays first base, and senior Patrick Talamantes has replaced Donald Hutchinson as catcher.
Sophomore Jacob Sands, who played Little League for eight years, is also new.
While lacrosse and baseball shared seven players last year, that number is down to three.
“I pretty much have a full squad at all of our practices,” Millsback said.
The team’s first two games were affected by rain. The March 10 Trinity game in Napa was canceled because the field was unplayable. Buckingham Charter was rescheduled for a doubleheader on March 14, which the Cavs lost.
The team will play the six other teams—Trinity, Woodland Christian, Valley Christian, Lutheran, Faith Christian, Buckingham—twice. The top three will move on to playoffs.
The golf team started a promising season by winning the first league match at the Arcade Creek Course of Haggin Oaks, March 11. The team was five strokes ahead of the second-place Buckingham Charter.
Three of six starters were among the top 10: senior Eric Hilton (fifth), freshman Zane Jakobs (sixth) and senior Garrett Kaighn (eighth). Sophomore Jake Sands placed 11th.
Coach Greg Kaighn is very pleased.
“We don’t look like a Division VI team at all,” Greg said.
Of the six starters—Garrett, Hilton, Jakobs, Sands and sophomores Brad Petchauer and Manson Tung—four are returning. Jakobs, a freshman, has been playing golf for three years and was on the middle-school team.
Although Greg said the players are getting better, he wishes they attended practices more often. Practices have shrunk from four to three days a week because players are committed to multiple sports or other activities.
Four of the six starters participate in another sport, and several also have other extracurriculars such as The Octagon and Mock Trial.
Garrett, who received the First Team All-League award last year, said he hasn’t practiced very much this year.
“(The match) was my second full nine-hole round since last season,” he said.
“I can still hit pretty well, but I’m still rusty, and that’s cost me a lot of shots.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, PGA pro Greg Ciavarelli comes to instruct the team. (Ciavarelli is a teaching professional who works as an instructor at Haggin Oaks.)
The team will play two more nine-hole and one 18- hole matches before determining whether it moves on to sectionals.
Traditionally, the top three teams move on. The team has qualified three years in a row, but a change of rules this year has Country Day competing for the top two spots in the league against Buckingham, Faith Christian, Valley Christian, Freedom Christian and Sac Adventist.
According to Greg, Valley and Buckingham might be Country Day’s biggest league competitors, though he’s certain of the team’s ability to make it to sectionals again.
The team’s next match will be at the Green Tree in Vacaville on Monday, April 7. Country Day came in second at the March 17 match.
The lacrosse team is off to a slow start.
The Cavs fell 4-14 to Justin-Siena High School on Feb. 25, and narrowly missed the win against Casa Roble, 7-8, on March 4.
But coach Brooke Wells said the team improved greatly in the second game.
“We cut down on penalties significantly, we put a lot more balls in the cage, and we were attacking better,” Wells said.
After losing star player Donald Hutchinson to the University of Colorado, Boulder, the team has been working on its new attack formation.
“Last year we kept running ‘Duke,’ which featured Donald at the top, to see whether he could score a goal,” sophomore Brad Petchauer said.
Senior goalie Troy Hoddick agrees.
“Losing players like Donald has forced everyone to work harder together,” Hoddick said.
This season the team also saw a new rule— the “defenseless player rule.” Wells said it was probably implemented for lacrosse to avoid being seen as a heavy contact sport such as football, in which high contacts could lead to head injuries like concussions.
“What used to be considered a good, solid hit is now considered a dangerous play,” Wells said. The new rule proved challenging as junior midfielder Dominic Stephen went through foul trouble in the first game.
When a player fouls, he sits in the penalty box, leaving the team on the field one player short. If the player accumulates more than five minutes of penalty time, he’s out for the game.
Losing Stephen in the game was especially problematic.
“Our defense is very strong, our attack is very strong and our first level of midfield is very strong,” Wells said. “But underneath that first level, our midfield is still very inexperienced.
“Therefore when Dominic got into foul trouble, it was difficult to replace him.”
But Wells said the team, especially the top nine players, is overall very good. The majority have played at least two seasons, and many have improved significantly from last year, such as juniors Alex Bushberg, Chris Liston and Johnson Ma.
The team will next play St. Mary’s in Stockton on Thursday, March 22. The Feb. 27 game against the Bay School was canceled due to bad weather, and the March 13 game against Sir Francis Drake has been rescheduled due to several players’ sickness.