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Bay Area Spring Athletes of the Year Bay Area Spring Athletes of the Year
Alhambra’s Briana Perez and College Park’s Joe DeMers were a cut above   BAY AREA FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE SPRING   Briana Perez |... Bay Area Spring Athletes of the Year

Alhambra’s Briana Perez and College Park’s Joe DeMers were a cut above

  Briana Perez | Alhambra-Martinez | Softball | Sophomore

When Kylee Perez graduated from Alhambra High in June of 2014 — one week after she led Alhambra to the North Coast Section Division II championship — she was confident she could begin her UCLA career knowing her alma mater was in good hands.

How did she know? Because the person most likely to replace her as the Bulldogs shortstop and lead offensive weapon was a player she watched for quite some time — her sister, Briana. “Growing up, she was always competing with me,” Kylee said. “But I’d say when she reached her eighth-grade year, that’s when I realized that this kid is probably going to be better than me. She’s a real competitor.”

Briana, who played alongside Kylee as a freshman in 2014, stepped into the spotlight and shined in 2015. The sophomore shortstop was an offensive juggernaut for the Bulldogs. The numbers are almost staggering. She hit a team-best .608 while also leading Alhambra in runs (55), hits (48), extra-base hits (26), home runs (14), triples (6), walks (27), stolen bases (26) and on-base percentage (.721). She did this while leading Alhambra to a 25-3 record and a second consecutive Div. II championship.

It was a resume that made her selection as the SportStars Bay Area Female Athlete of the Year for Spring an easy one.

“I know last year, I was there and she kind of let me lead the way a little bit,” Kylee said. “But she’s always been a hard worker and she has a presence about her. Even though she’s a sophomore, a lot of kids look up to her and her work ethic.”

The fact that Kylee and six other seniors were gone from the 2014 championship team was a fact that Briana and her teammates were constantly reminded of prior to starting their season in March. They used it as fuel.

“We came out and were kind of underestimated with all the seniors that we lost,” Briana said. “So that motivated us to work really hard at practice every day, and we ended it just how we wanted to.”

The Bulldogs needed a few weeks to put things together, opening the season 2-2 before winning 23 of their last 24 and closing the season with 17 straight wins. That 17th win, a 4-2 defeat of Redwood-Larkspur in the NCS Div. II final, featured a fan in the Alhambra cheering section who was attending her first game of the season. It was Kylee.

“It was awesome,” the older sister said. “I love watching her play. Whether she’s having a good day of a bad day. She’s always so positive and she makes sure her teammates are positive. But just the way she plays in general, I just love it.”
— Chace Bryson

THE STATS: After batting .608 with 42 hits, 55 runs scored and 42 RBI, Perez is on pace to surpass her sister Kylee as the most prolific hitter in Alhambra history. In two seasons, Briana has a .536 batting average with 81 hits, 88 runs, 69 RBI and 19 home runs..
SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: On May 9 against Petaluma, Perez went 2-for-3 with two home runs, three runs scored, four RBI and one stolen base.
WHAT’S NEXT: Briana will spend her summer playing for her club team, the Sorcerer Softball Club. She’s given an oral commitment to UCLA, where she hopes to join her sister.

  Joe DeMers | College Park-Pleasant Hill | Baseball | Senior

There really was no other way the College Park High baseball season should’ve ended.

It’s the North Coast Section Division I championship game at Louis Guisto Field on the campus of Saint Mary’s College. One out. Bases loaded. De La Salle-Concord has the winning run at the plate. College Park has Joe DeMers on the mound.

As tremendously talented as the College Park roster was in 2015 — including the well-publicized seven Division-I college signees — DeMers was always the bellwether. His teammates referred to him as ‘Big Joe,’ and nobody was better in the big moments.

Therefore, it was no surprise that DeMers reared back and struck out the last two batters, stranding three and earning the win with six innings of relief. He finished the year with a 13-1 record, 0.51 ERA, 103 strikeouts and just 10 walks over 96 innings.

“He has an ability to take a team and put it on his shoulders,” College Park coach Andy Tarpley said. “No matter what kind of situation you’re in, no matter what kind of adversity you’re dealing with. Crowds. Big De La Salle name. He’s always the same. He knows how to compete. He’s incredible.”

His season, which also included a dominant offensive year of batting .447 with 42 hits, 44 RBI, 26 runs scored, 16 doubles and six home runs, DeMers made an easy selection as the Bay Area Male Athlete of the Year for Spring. It’s the second consecutive year he’s earned the honor, joining Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland boys basketball star Ivan Rabb as the only two-time SportStars Athlete of the Year selection.

The hype around DeMers and College Park was never higher than it was this season when the Falcons entered the year as the No. 1 high school team in the nation according to Baseball America. Several other media outlets had College Park nationally ranked, with DeMers on a slew of watch lists. The Falcons showed they belonged in the national conversation with a 3-1 showing and runner-up finish at the National High School Invitaitonal in Cary, North Carolina, in March. In April, College Park finished as runner-up in the Elite 8 Tournament at St. Francis-Mountain View.

The win over De La Salle, which avenged a 3-0 nonleague loss to the Spartans in early May, was enough to propel College Park to finish the season No. 1 in the state. The Falcons are the first NCS team to do so since El Cerrito in 1983.

And it brought to light yet another nickname for Big Joe.

“We call him ‘Zeus,’ the God of all Gods,” Falcons outfielder Nick Oar said. “He took that game and he said ‘This is mine. I’m going to put the team on my back.’ We got that lead for him and he said, ‘That’s it. We’re gonna win now.’ And look, look what happened.”
— Chace Bryson

THE STATS: He compiled a 13-1 record with a 0.51 ERA. He threw 10 complete games, five shutouts, three no-hitters. Led the team in RBI (44), doubles (16) and home runs (6).
SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: On March 10, DeMers threw a perfect game, striking out seven against Monte Vista-Danville — a team which would reach the NCS Div. I semifinals.
WHAT’S NEXT: DeMers will take his talents to the University of Washington, where it’s unknown whether he’ll continue his career on the mound or transition to a full-time infielder.

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