As Pierce College moves into the second half of the Western State Conference baseball season, a trio of former high school infielders has become the core of its pitching staff.
“You’ve got to go to desperate measures in desperate times,” said Pierce co-Coach Bob Lofrano, who will make recruitment of pitchers a priority for next season.
Pierce is 11-14, 4-9 in conference play. Freshman left-hander Kurt Lowry, a former first baseman for Granada Hills High, has become the ace at 6-4.
“One of our most pleasant surprises has been Kurt Lowry,” Lofrano said. “He has really developed into a fine pitcher.”
Freshman right-hander Juan Soriano (1-3), a middle infielder at Canoga Park, has become the No. 2 starter in Pierce’s two-man rotation, and sophomore right-hander Chris Murphy (2-5), a former Granada Hills second baseman, is available for spot starts and relief.
There also have been enough bright spots to keep Lofrano encouraged about his makeshift staff.
“They’ve got good arms,” Lofrano said. “Most infielders do have good throwing motions, and because they were infielders in the past, they are good athletes.”
In the swim: Ron Daniels, a General Motors executive, has stood before national television audiences and handed World Series and Super Bowl most valuable player awards to Orel Hershiser, Dave Stewart and Joe Montana.
Yet, he would have been just as pleased had he been able to present awards in the NCAA Division III swimming finals two weeks ago in Brown Deer, Wis.
Daniels’ son, Rich, is a senior team captain at UC San Diego, which finished second behind perennial champion Kenyon, Ohio.
Rich Daniels, a graduate of Thousand Oaks High, was part of three second-place UCSD freestyle relays. He also placed seventh in the 200 freestyle, 13th in the 100 freestyle and 15th in the 50 freestyle to earn All-American honors for the fourth year in a row.
“Rich is probably the most consistent big-meet performer we’ve had over the last four years,” Coach Bill Morgan said. “Plus, he did everything you’re supposed to in Division III. He is an excellent student and at the same time paid the price in training. His leadership will be missed.”
Two-liners: Tom Neumayr, a senior forward from Thousand Oaks, was named most valuable player of the UC Davis basketball team. An honorable-mention All-Northern California Athletic Conference selection, he averaged 15.9 points a game for the 11-16 Aggies. . . .
Lety Carranza, backup point guard for Valley’s state basketball semifinalist, is a catcher and infielder with the softball team. A first-team All-Western State Conference utility player last season, she reportedly is considering going to Cal Lutheran, where she could follow in the footsteps of basketball-softball star Brenda Lee. . . .
Shon Tarver said that he will have “a good chance” at becoming Nevada Las Vegas’ first guard off the bench next season, but Travis Bice might have something to say about that. Bice, a Simi Valley High graduate who walked on at UNLV, won that role as a sophomore this season.
Climbing the list: Scott Sharts belted home run No. 16 Thursday against Grand Canyon (Ariz.), placing him in a tie with John Balfanz and Mike Ellison for sixth on CSUN’s single-season list. With 23 games left in the regular season, Sharts would seem a cinch to pass Rondal Rollin, who set the school record of 24 homers in 1980.
Matador reliever Todd Denhart already has the single-season mark for saves. The junior right-hander picked up his fifth of the season against Grand Canyon on Thursday, topping the record of four by Jeff Cherry in 1972.
Missing-persons report: Although the Northridge baseball team has won seven in a row, Coach Bill Kernen is realistic.
“We have some pieces to the puzzle still to put together,” he said of his youthful team. “I’ve got some recruiting work to do.”
If Northridge is to have any success at the Division I level next season, Kernen says the Matadors need a speedy outfielder or two, additional depth in the field and a couple of talented pitchers.
To that end, he will break his two-year streak of recruiting solely at the high school level. Kernen said that he plans to dip into the junior college talent pool for a leadoff hitter and starting pitchers.
CSUN already has an oral commitment from Mark Ingram, a 6-foot-4 left-hander from Harbor College who has professional scouts raving about his 88-m.p.h. fastball.
But do not expect Northridge to be devoid of a freshman class next season.
“It’s always important to keep young players (in) your program in order to build continuity,” Kernen said. “Once you get going, you should never have a rebuilding year.”
Even-handed: The Pierce men’s volleyball team is hoping to continue a trend of winning the state championship in even-numbered years.
The Brahmas won state titles in 1986 and 1988, and Coach Ken Stanley believes that his team (12-2) has the potential to win this year.
“Of all the teams to be coaching for the state, I’d rather be coaching this team,” Stanley said. “I have a lot of confidence in this team. I know they will play as hard as they can, and this is probably the best passing team we’ve ever had.”
Pierce is battling for the South Coast Conference championship but next year hopes to compete in the Western State Conference.
The WSC currently does not sanction men’s volleyball, but Stanley expressed confidence in the sport’s prospects for inclusion. Pierce Athletic Director Marian McWilliams said there is a “50-50" chance that the WSC will include men’s volleyball by next year.
Staff writers Mike Hiserman, Steve Henson and Brendan Healey contributed to this notebook.