Shelter From a Tricky Double Play

Times Staff Writer

John Zeller, baseball coach at The Master's College, must have friends in lofty places. If he needs divine intervention, say, in the form of a rainstorm--break out the umbrellas.

On Tuesday, The Master's College baseball team was scheduled for a doubleheader on the road. Nothing unusual about that. Except in this case, the opening game was at Biola University at 2 in the afternoon. The second game was scheduled for 7 p.m.--30 miles away at the University of La Verne.

The Mustangs were going to board a bus in Newhall, drive to La Mirada to play the Eagles, then load up and drive to La Verne to play the Leopards in the nightcap.

Making matters worse, the Mustangs (7-11) had to play San Diego State, a traditional Division I power, the following day at home.

Who scheduled the Biola-La Verne road-trip doubleheader and the Aztec game the next afternoon?

"Not me," Zeller said in a what-are-you-crazy? tone. Zeller, who is in his first year as the school's baseball coach and athletic director, said the schedule was already in place before he came to The Master's from Tennessee Temple last spring.

"It's very unusual," he said. "It's tough to go from an afternoon game at Biola, then travel to La Verne for a night game. I wouldn't do this. It's on the schedule, but I wouldn't do this again."

As it turned out, both games were postponed because the Biola and La Verne fields were under water after heavy rains. In addition, the San Diego State game was postponed. Zeller said The Master's field was a mess and that it would take a few days to dry out.

"Maybe we can make up the San Diego State game sometime later in the season," he said. But clearly, Zeller was in no hurry to get buried by the Aztecs.

"Well, uh, you know," he said, "with all the rain, maybe the Lord's been looking out for us."

La Verne Coach Owen Wright said The Master's game would be made up on May 2. "They'll be over this way to play Pacific Coast Baptist Bible in the afternoon, so they can play us that night and save themselves a trip."

Zeller was less enthusiastic about rescheduling the game.

"Well, we're talking about it," he said. "But we've already got a game that day and . . . I'll tell you, I'm going to have to find a way to get out of the La Verne game."

In other words, don't plan an outdoor party, picnic or parade Friday, May 2.

Although it might be tough for a 5-23 basketball team to choose even one most valuable player, Cal Lutheran selected three at its awards banquet Tuesday night: Steve Cotner, Pat Gibbs and Lionel Boyce.

The Kingsmen were 2-11 in the NAIA District III.

Cotner, a senior, averaged 11.2 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. Gibbs, also a senior, averaged 10.1 points and 3.5 rebounds. Boyce, a junior, averaged 11.O points and 6.4 rebounds.

Stanford pitcher Jack McDowell, a former player of the year in Southern Section 4-A for Notre Dame High, is off to a strong start this season in the Pac-10 Conference.

McDowell, a preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball magazines, is 6-1 for the Cardinal. Some college baseball observers believe that McDowell and teammates Rob Wassenaar and Kevin Kunkel make up the best college pitching staff in the West.

On Sunday, McDowell earned the win in Stanford's 4-2 victory over UCLA. The sophomore right-hander has 53 strikeouts in 57 innings, including a career-high 12 in the Cardinal's 10-1 win over Hawaii. Stanford, which is ranked No. 8 in the nation, is 3-1 in Pac-10 games, 16-6 overall.

At Notre Dame, McDowell led the Knights to two Del Rey League championships.

If you put it that way: Derek Hughes, a sophomore guard at College of the Canyons, said that the Cougars' 99-85 loss to Grossmont last week in the second round of the state community college regional tournament might have been his last collegiate game.

When Hughes was asked if he would play next season, he said: "I don't know. Put the word out--anyone need a 5-11 point guard who doesn't score any points?"

Hughes, who apparently isn't majoring in marketing, averaged almost 10 assists a game and in two games passed off 16 assists.

Canyons finished with a 20-10 record.

For the first time in five years, Al Schoenberger won't be flying south this spring.

The Cal Lutheran baseball coach normally takes a trip to Lakeland, Fla. to visit Sparky Anderson at the Detroit Tigers' spring training camp.

Schoenberger, a friend of the Tigers' manager, couldn't find a break in his collegiate schedule to make the trip.

"I really do feel bad about it," Schoenberger said. "It's a great experience for a small-college coach like myself to go down there."

Instead, he will stay behind with the Kingsmen, who are off to one of their best starts ever. They will take a 7-1 record into Saturday's doubleheader at Southern California College.

Schoenberger, however, isn't planning to spend next spring in California.

"I guarantee you that I won't miss it next year," he said.

Anderson lives in Thousand Oaks during the off-season, and is one of Cal Lutherans' most ardent boosters.

Toya DeCree, former Kennedy High basketball player, has been chosen the most valuable player in the West Coast Athletic Conference.

DeCree, who plays for U.S. International University, averaged 22.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4 steals a game this season. USIU (23-7) will play Notre Dame in the opening round of the women's National Invitational Tournament on Thursday in Amarillo, Texas.

Cal Lutheran signed fullback Sean Johnson to a national letter of intent last week. Johnson, a 6-1, 195-pound junior, played last season at Porterville Community College.

The Kingsmen expect Johnson to help fill the void left by fullback Leo Briones, who graduated.

"He has excellent speed and we think he can step in and contribute next year," said Pete Alamar, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for CLU.

Porterville Coach Steve Peck also holds Johnson in high regard.

"Sean will be an outstanding player at Cal Lutheran because he'll get to carry the ball more," Peck said. "He's an outstanding blocker and a good runner."

Johnson is the 12th player to sign with Cal Lutheran this year.

Cal State Northridge opened spring football drills this week and optimism, as usual, was running rampant.

A press release from the school's sports information office said that CSUN might have had it's best recruiting year ever. Coach Bob Burt, who came to CSUN from Cal State Fullerton, brought with him a "winning spirit," the release said.

Could a Division II national championship be in the offing?

While Burt wouldn't make any predictions after just two days of spring practice, he sounded confident the Matadors would improve upon last season's 4-7 record.

"We have new coaches, new recruits, more of a commitment by the university and the students," Burt said. "That breeds optimism. You can feel it on the practice field. The players are pumped up. They've been frustrated in the past. We've been showing them how to get out of the frustration level and get to the competitive level.

"They've been busting their tails in the weight room ever since I came here."

A player for all seasons: Kim Peppi, a basketball and softball player, may be Cal Lutheran's best athlete. She is the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder in basketball. Peppi, a junior, was also the basketball team's most valuable player the last two years. She was the softball team's MVP last year.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World