By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
For The Signal
College of the Canyons sophomore outfielder Sierra Boyajian earned a pair of impressive accolades this week, with the former Hart High School standout named co-Western State Conference (WSC), East Division Player of the Year in addition to a spot on the All-State team.
Boyajian lead Canyons with a .387 batting average, 500 on-base percentage and .642 slugging percentage. During 14 conference contests those numbers improved to .579/.660/.921.
She led the team with 32 RBIs, finished second with 41 total hits and 10 steals, and added 31 runs, 13 doubles, four triples and two home runs.
Boyajian shares the co-WSC Player of the Year honors with shortstop Isabelle Gomez of Antelope Valley College.
“Sierra is a great hitter whose bat we’re going to need heading into the postseason,” said COC head coach John Wissmath, who has guided the Lady Cougars into the playoffs for a seventh straight season.
“She plays up to her full potential by never being afraid to make a big time play,” added Wissmath, “and has gotten stronger playing in the outfield every game.”
Boyajian was one of just four players from the WSC to be named to the California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association (3CFCA) All-State team.
The Lady Cougars had nine players earn All-WSC, East Division honors.
Freshman Kaitlyn Post, sophomore Megan Wilson and sophomore Micayla Aguilar were named to the All-WSC First-Team.
Post led the squad in total hits (43) and doubles (18). The former Canyon High School star ranked second on the team in batting average (.381), slugging percentage (.623), RBIs (31), runs (33) and triples (four). She also appeared in 19 games from the circle, making nine starts and 10 relief appearances to compile a 9-5 record.
“Kaitlyn put up uncanny stats as a freshman,” Wissmath said. “Her contributions at the plate and in the circle were magnificent.”
Aguilar, who also attended Canyon High School, batted .358 for the season with a team-high four RBIs along with 27 RBIs and 26 runs scored.
Wilson, who attended West Ranch, anchored the Cougars pitching staff with a 13-9 record and 3.27 ERA in 135 innings of work. She struck out 60 batters and allowed just one home run.
Second-Team honorees for Canyons included freshmen Camryn Webb and Natsuki Kameyama and sophomores Rena Edwards and Valerie Rivas.
Webb finished the regular season with a .327 average and 24 RBIs, while sharing the team lead with four home runs. Her 33 runs were tied with Post for second on the squad.
Kameyama, who hails from Fukuoka, Japan, provided a big spark for Canyons this season. Primarily batting from the No. 2 spot in Wissmath’s lineup, Kameyama led the team with 34 runs. She batted .351, got on base at a .425 clip and swiped 10 bags.
“Natsuki played great defensively and has been excellent with her offensive short game and speed on the bases,” Wissmath said. “Webb goes 100 percent all the time – always hustles, always runs hard and is unafraid.”
Edwards was second in the WSC with 19 stolen bases and added a .319 batting average with 30 runs and 25 RBIs from the leadoff spot.
Rivas batted .349 for Canyons with a .429 on-base percentage. She notched 28 RBIs and scored 24 runs on the year.
“Edwards could be our team’s most valuable player,” said Wissmath about the sophomore who has started games at catcher, center field and shortstop.
“Rivas uses her mental toughness to run our ship and make sure the team stays focused. She’s our team’s ‘Crash Davis,’” commented Wissmath, in reference to the fictional character depicted by Kevin Costner in the 1988 baseball film “Bull Durham.”
The Lady Cougars batted .336 as a team, good for second in the WSC. That mark helped translate to a conference-leading 271 runs scored. COC’s 227 RBIs was second in the conference.
COC (23-17, 10-4) finished the regular season as runner-up in the Western State Conference (WSC), East Division after winning the conference a season ago.
Canyons will enter the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs as the No. 12 seed vs. No. 5 Fullerton College in a best-of-three series.
Fullerton (33-6, 17-4) was runner-up in the Orange Empire Conference (OEC). The Hornets slotted in as No. 9 in the state according to the 3CFCA final regular season poll released April 26.
Game one begins at 2 p.m. on Friday. The action continues at noon on Saturday. If necessary, a third game will be played later that same day.
Cougars Baseball Has 11 Named All-WSC
Canyons had 11 players earn All-WSC, East Division accolades with four brining home First-Team honors.
Cougars starting pitcher Brendan Henry, first baseman Felix Brandt, infielder Luke Chung and designated hitter Nick Henry highlighted the list of honorees with first-team selections.
Nick Henry lead the team and ranked third in the state with a .419 batting average. He also led the Cougars with seven home runs. His 65 total hits, 41 RBIs, and 40 runs each tied for the team lead.
Chung batted .380 and tied with Nick Henry with 65 hits. The Valencia High School graduate recorded 25 RBIs, 37 runs and six stolen bases in his first season with the Cougars. Chung also drew 27 walks to help post a .465 on-base percentage.
Brandt, a freshman from Dalarna, Sweden, hit at a .317 clip to go with 29 RBIs and 29 runs. He was second on the team with 11 doubles.
Brendan Henry led Canyons with a 3.29 ERA across 82 innings of work from the mound. He recorded 43 strikeouts compared to just six walks and finished with a 5-5 record. At the plate, the freshman from Hart High, batted .286 across 35 at bats.
COC pitcher Alex Ravago, infielder Kyle Soberano, outfielder Max Mehlbaum and utility man Nate Duarte each earned All-WSC Second-Team.
Durate appeared in 11 games as a pitcher, making one start and 10 relief appearances, while also starting at catcher for the majority of the season. He batted .208 with three home runs, 22 runs and 23 RBIs. On the mound, he went 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA and three saves across 17 and 1/3 innings.
Mehlbaum finished his sophomore season with a .318 batting average along with a team-high 41 RBIs, 30 runs and a team-best seven stolen bases. He also clubbed five home runs and slugged .545.
Soberano tied for the team lead with 40 runs scored. The sophomore knocked in 24 runs and led the club with 31 walks. He batted .246 on the year in 167 at bats.
Ravago made four starts and six relief appearances. In 29 innings of work the sophomore tallied 26 strikeouts to go 2-0 on the season.
Sophomore third baseman Tyler Erne (.281/24 RBIs/29 runs), freshman outfielder Tyler Grodell (.322/28 RBIs/28 runs), and freshman relief pitcher Matt Serrano (1-1, 14 strikeouts in 13 appearances) each received Honorable Mention honors.
Additionally, Erne and Brendan Henry were both honored with Gold Glove designations.
Canyons finished the 2019 season with a 21-18 overall record and a 12-8 mark in conference play to finish third in the WSC, East Division.
Track & Field Heading to SoCal Prelims
With a strong showing at last week’s WSC Championships. Cougars track & field has qualified to compete in a combined 21 event slots at Friday’s CCCAA Southern California Prelims hosted by Riverside College.
COC’s men’s team claimed five individual conference titles while seeing athletes qualify for the regional meet across 12 different events.
Freshman sprinter Jacore Johnson won conference titles in the 200m (21.752) and 400m (48.79) to lead the way. Sophomore Delon Buncio won a title in the javelin (55.34m/181’ 5”) and freshman Jordan Palmer was champion in the shot put (14.94m/49’ 0.25”). The men’s 4×400 relay team of Buncio, Aaron Sooknanan, Gabriel Halekakis and Johnson also won a conference title at a time of 3:20.54.
All conference title winners automatically advance to the regional meet. Buncio has also qualified in the long jump, triple jump and 400h. Likewise for Palmer who moves on in the discus. Additionally, Lavell Bailey (100m/200m), Jacob Acosta (3,000m steeplechase), and the 4x100m relay team of Buncio, Aaron Sooknanan, Gabriel Halekakis and Johnson are all moving on.
COC’s women’s team will send seven athletes to compete across eight events at the regional prelims.
Tatiana Smith (100m and 200m), Giselle Alvarado (400m), Brianna Helsley (400m), Samantha Bell (1,500m), Celeste Gonzalez (1,500m) and Amanda Finn (5,000m) will all compete as individuals. Same for the 4x400m relay team of Smith, Gonzalez, Helsley and Alvarado.
Alvarado placed runner-up in the 400m (1:00.54) at the conference championships to represent the best individual finish for COC’s women’s team.
The SoCal Regional Prelims begin at 9 a.m. on Friday. The shot put, javelin and 5,000m will all serve as finals events. All other regional events will then be decided at the 2019 CCCAA Southern California Championships on May 11.