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Hillmen weather the storms

By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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With all the rain, more rain, and still more rain… with all the snow… with all the hail… with all the sleet… with hurricane force winds… it must be… baseball, track, and golf season.
The spring sports have suffered as they tried to practice during the parade of storms that have hit our area.
According to first-year Placer skipper John Hilton: “The last time we used the entire field at James Field was March 11.”
For those without a calendar handy, that is over three weeks ago.
The baseball team has been forced into the gyms at Placer High where they do their best to improve their game; a game that was designed to be played outdoors.
“We use whiffle balls in the gym to work on our hitting and throwing,” the coach said. “Defensive situations, such as double-plays involving the second baseman and shortstop, and covering first base involving the pitcher, are just some of the situations we work on in the gym. Our outfielders have suffered the most as it is hard to work on the long throws that an outfielder would normally make.”
The Hillmen are off to a 5-0 start for the season. Hilton humorously pointed out that while they missed game-after-game, Placer jumped in the area’s ratings. Rated No. 20 by one local media outlet, Placer jumped two spots to No. 18 without playing a game.
Hilton had high praise for three of his seniors: Nick Mitchell, a center fielder and leadoff hitter; Evan Staton, a right fielder with a “rocket arm” and Paul Bandanza, second baseman and middle reliever.
The Hillmen have already missed four league games which will now be made up on Mondays. Hilton commented that teams with pitching depth will have an advantage as three games a week will now be played.
Sharing the gym with the baseball team is Rick Foley’s track squad. All 120 tracksters huddle in one corner of the gym, trying to avoid an errant whiffle ball from the baseball team, to warm up before they head out to the track for an abbreviated practice.
“This weather has been difficult for us,” Foley said. “Our times are lagging, but there is not much we can do about it. Our kids have been amazing. They have showed great effort and attitude in enduring this weather. For example, 70 athletes showed up to help set up for the LeFebvre relays. They worked through sleet and hail.
“We warm up in the gym then we might have the shot-putters work on their release and spin technique. Our pole vaulters work out in the Quonset huts next to the train tracks.”
“Coach Popsicle” as Foley referred to himself, reminded me that track runs in all weather unless there is lightening.
Placer hosts one of its most important league meets in years this afternoon. Center High, new to the PVL, is a threat to end the domination of Placer track in league.
Del Oro Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony: Monte White, Del Oro’s athletic director, wants the public to be aware of the second annual Del Oro Hall of Fame Ceremony on Sunday, May 1 at 1 p.m. The induction will be held in the theater and is free to the public. A reception, in the cafeteria, immediately following will cost $10.
This year’s inductees from the 1960s-70s-80s include: Athletes Karl Richter- tennis; Brian Williams- football; Laurie Otten (Cruse)- volleyball-basketball-softball; Pete Vincenzo- cross-country and track; J.T. Doupnik- football.
Coaches: Bob Christiansen and John Fletcher-football; John Rankin-basketball.
Teams: 1960-football; 1986-softball; 1961-1st parents’ Club
Staff: Steve March
For more information, contact Del Oro High.