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First Pitch by Jim McCue      The best part about reviewing the athletic year in the Sac-Joaquin Section is that all of these...

First Pitch by Jim McCue  

   The best part about reviewing the athletic year in the Sac-Joaquin Section is that all of these opinions are 100 percent accurate. No guesses or predictions this time of year as we take a look back at some of our favorite stories from 2013-14.

   GRIZZLIES MAUL EVERYONE: One year after the Granite Bay girls volleyball team lost in the NorCal finals, first-year coach Tricia Plummer led her veteran roster to the most dominant run in the section’s history. Behind the senior trio of Taylor Nelson, Nicolette Pinkney and Maddy Deters, Granite Bay capped a perfect 45-0 season with a 3-1 triumph over Los Alamitos in the CIF State Volleyball Championships. Victory was rarely in doubt from September through December as the Grizzlies compiled an amazing 114-6 record in sets played.

   Said Plummer after starting her varsity coaching career with a perfect season, “I didn’t know how to lose with these girls.”

   MORE THAN PASSING MARKS: It’s not easy to live up to the hype of a sophomore season in which you set the state record for passing yards and nearly break the record for touchdown passes in a season. Folsom quarterback Jake Browning passed the praise to his teammates during a second consecutive 14-1 season and also passed his way into the record book again. The junior threw for a record 5,737 yards and 75 touchdowns to guide the Bulldogs to a second consecutive SJS crown and garnered accolades throughout the year, including our All-Nor Cal Football Offensive Player of the Year.

   “In all honesty, I am over it,” the University of Washington commit said of the records during the offseason. “Everyone on the team is focused on the next season already.”

   TITLE RUNS: The SJS produced state running champions in both the fall and spring seasons. Davis sophomore Fiona O’Keeffe outran the competition to claim the CIF State Cross Country Div. I championship. More than six months later, the Woodcreek-Roseville boys’ 4×100 relay team of Alex Rotteveel, Tyus Williamson, Aspyn Walton, and Colton George won the state title in Clovis. The Timberwolves’ quartet, which relies on precision handoffs and transitions rather than pure speed, appeared to come up just short against Edison-Fresno. But the Timberwolves’ disappointment was brief, as Edison was disqualified for a pair of violations to give Woodcreek the top spot on the podium.

   HOOP DREAMS: A trio of section teams played for the CIF State Basketball Championship. While the Modesto Christian girls team was the only one of the three to bring home the hardware — the program’s first state title — the SJS representatives each made their marks. The Folsom boys won just 12 games in 2013, but rattled off 22 straight wins before falling to St. John Bosco-Bellflower in the Div. II state final. The Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove girls did not win a league or section title, but reached the NorCal final with three consecutive 2-point wins on the road and then upset perennial power Berkeley 51-42 to punch its ticket to the state final.

   GOING TO THE SHOW: Elk Grove baseball star Derek Hill capped off the 2013-14 year with his appearance at Major League Baseball’s First-Year Players Draft in Secaucus, New Jersey. The center fielder was selected in the first round (23rd overall) by the Detroit Tigers to become the highest local draft choice since 1998. Hill is expected to sign with the Tiger.

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