As the school year winds down, prep, college and even Little League sports in Encinitas are heating up.
Whether it is outstanding individual achievement like La Costa Canyon golfer Kento Yamawaki playing his way into the CIF SoCal Regional tournament, or the Mavericks pulling off two big upsets in the San Diego Section softball championships, stories of success are rolling in.
Here’s a look at some of the local athletic action, and a preview of what’s to come:
Boys golf: Yamawaki’s 71st-place finish on Thursday, May 26 doesn’t sound impressive, until you add context. The La Costa Canyon phenom carded a 6-over 78 in the SoCal Regionals at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, a course that has hosted PGA Tour events. That put him in a tie as the 71st-best high school golfer in the entire southern half of the state. Oh, and Yamawaki, who opened his regional round with a birdie, is just a freshman.
“Kento is beyond his years in ability to deal with the game of golf and the mental aspect,” LCC golf coach Casey Sovacool told The Encinitas Advocate. “He can play any shot, he is long off the tee, accurate with approach (shots) and he can get up and down anywhere on the course.”
Yamawaki and his teammates showed off those skills a week before the regional, as the Mavericks took second overall in the two-day San Diego Section Tournament, which ended May 19. Yamawaki led the way, carding a 7-under 137 for a second-place individual finish, and got support from LCC teammates Phil Nye (145), Hunter Reed (146), Avery Schmidt (150), Alex Rhee (153) and Will Galloway (157).
“The team had a great year, winning the Avocado West League Championship and (as the) CIF Division II runner-up,” Sovacool explained. “Our team was a great mix of experience and youth. Hunter Reed and Kento were both first-team all-league selections ... Phil Nye, Alex Rhee and Avery Schmidt were second-team all-league.
“The highlight of the year came in the league championship deciding match on a windy, difficult day. The boys shot a 1-under 179 at The Crossings against Carlsbad, which was lowest team round ever recorded there.”
Also competing at the two-day SDS tournament — which was contested at Admiral Baker Golf Course — were San Dieguito Academy standouts Andrew Davidson (154) and Blake Iwaisako (157).
Softball: The La Costa Canyon girls diamond crew, didn’t have a dominating regular season — finishing 15-16 overall and 4-6 to take fourth place in the powerful Avocado League — but played its best when the lights shined brightest. Seeded 10th, the Mavericks had to win a play-in game just to get into double-elimination portion of the San Diego Section Division I tournament. They did that with ease, rocking Imperial, 8-0, on May 17.
That set up a May 19 matchup with second-seeded Rancho Buena Vista, which ended up being one for the ages. LCC gave up three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the game into extra frames, but bounced back with five in the top of the ninth, then held on for a marathon 11-8 victory.
After falling to top-seeded Carlsbad on May 21, the Mavericks staved off elimination with an 8-2 upset win over Rancho Bernardo on May 24. But finally, 10th-seeded LCC’s magical run, which included wins over the No. 2, 4 and 7 teams in the tournament, came to an end with a 10-3 loss to RBV on May 26.
Track: While athletes from both San Dieguito Academy and La Costa Canyon had success at the San Diego Section Championships — contested at Canyon Crest Academy on May 27-28 — the biggest highlights came from seven Mavericks standouts who will compete at the CIF State Meet on Friday and Saturday (June 3-4).
LCC took home a trio of individual section titles, and saw its girls 4x100 squad take second place with a fast enough time (48.51) to earn the state meet berth. In that race, sophomore Kendall Nicholas, freshman Taylor Fardig and seniors Makaila Eddington and Michelle Gould finished just moments behind a quartet from Torrey Pines.
Two other seniors, Kyle Brown and Bryan Johnson took home SDS championships, Brown pole vaulting 16-0 and Johnson speeding to a first-place 4:18.71 in the boys 1,600-meter race. Sophomore McKenna Brown also won a 1,600-meter crown, sprinting home in 4:58.92 in the girls event.
Baseball: After an impressive regular season, during which the Mavericks went 23-5 and ripped through the Avocado League at a 14-1 clip on the way to a championship, it was a forgettable playoff run for LCC, which dropped it first two SDS tournament games, including a 2-1 loss to Grossmont on Friday, May 27.
Still, there is much to celebrate about the 2016 Mavericks, who were paced by likely MLB first-round draft pick Mickey Moniak. The senior hit .476 with 46 RBIs, seven home runs, 12 triples and 40 runs scored, and formed a strong one-two hitting punch with classmate Ryan Orr. Checking in with a .421 average, Orr added 10 doubles and 28 RBIs. LCC also had a terrific trio on the mound in seniors Austin Merrill (5-1, 0.87 ERA), Brendan Kawaja (8-0, 1.94) and Nick Sheidler (7-2, 2.45)
Volleyball: In the college ranks, MiraCosta’s Breanna Kirklen was honored for her athletic ability as well as her brain, earning the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference’s Female Scholar Athlete of the Year award.
Kirklen, a 19-year-old who played prep volleyball at The Classical Academy High in Escondido and earned a full scholarship to transfer to Hope International University in Fullerton next year, is a middle blocker at MiraCosta. She was third on the team with 121 kills and was named a PCAC All-Conference honorable mention.
In addition to her prowess in the classroom — Kirklen is a regular on the President’s List and will graduate with an associate degree in psychology — the accomplished net player coaches at Sinjin Volleyball in Encinitas.
Little League: Teams from Encinitas Little League and Encinitas National Little League are competing against each other this summer in the inaugural Encinitas Coast City Tournament. Local 9-12 year-olds are already playing games at Park Dale Lane Elementary school and Ecke Sports Park, and action continues through the championships contests on June 9 (Minors) and June 10 (Majors). To view the brackets, visit bit.ly/encinitasbaseball2016