Monday, May 16, 2005


The measure of sports and sports men and women ought to be the joy of the game. Sometimes we get blinded by the bright lights.

Softball’s Panita Thanatharn started the 2003 season on fire. Ten hits in her first 14 at bats, four doubles, a home run and then an awful leg injury. Two years later her trip to Fresno this weekend is a tribute to just not quitting in the training room and on the field A senior carrying the lowest average on the team, Panita’s love of the game and her team is what victory is all about.

Baseball’s Steve Velazco came into town on his own dime at 5-9 and about a buck fifty four years ago. His freshman year he invented himself as a pinch runner, and got into 22 games. Sophomore season the Dirtbags recruited a bunch of guys to play his position, all bigger and stronger so Steve reinvented himself as reliable and speedy outfielder, no errors in 101 attempts. His junior year average dropped but his acrobatic catches won a number of big games (twice over Fullerton) and the hearts of fans, particularly kids in the five foot height category. This is his senior season and although his team has an important visit this weekend to Fullerton nobody in that chippy assembly will have anything but admiration for the man who is called “The Mouse”.

So this weekend the big names will get all the spotlights. No. 24-ranked Long Beach State Softball team makes its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regionals playing host Fresno State Thursday night. The almost top ten baseball team meanwhile goes to number one Fullerton for the latest in their cross-county feuding and fussing. Win three and the Bags win the Big West and host their own regional. Stay tuned, but don’t just keep your eyes on the stars.

DUSTING UP-The rest of the Softball regional includes the favorite and No. 2 National Seed, California (46-11) who plays BYU (44-12) in the Thursday nightcap. Winners play on Friday as the round one losers play an elimination game. The difference that FSU will see in this team is that these Niners can really hit.
“In the past, : skipper Pete Manarino would say, “we kind of felt that it would take a perfect pitching game to stay alive but I think it we just defend and pitch well our bats will carry us through.” Except for the Bulldog encounter at least the Italian folks in Fresno are quite find of Pete and once brought a sign that said, “We love you Pete, now get out of town.”. Fun weekend if those bats stay hot and the 49ers have won 22 of their last 24 games heading into post-season play.

Last weekend’s tortured analogy was baseball is many things but pitching is the bear. Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. The Dirtbag Bears, especially Ramos, Hughes and the sensational senior stoppers Anderson and Jamison kept the dream alive against a surprising SLO team that Weathers says, “like us, they will be really tough in the post season.”
Now the who’s getting a regional report My take is that the Niners need two of three this weekend, need to beat a tired USC in a make-up game sandwiched between their two important PAC Ten series and get ready to host the first weekend in June.
Last add name dropping. Former LB associate athletic director Steve Holton has gotten a plum new post as the #2 at CAL working under Anne "Sandy" Barbour. He will be the principal administrator for the Bear’s resurgent football team and will figure in what the UC Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau estimates will be $200 million in improvements for sporting facilities.—DR. DAN


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October 3, 2005 at 8:36 PM  

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