CHS softball seniors head for college ball clubs

With no wins, the Claremont High School girls varsity softball team has weathered a tough season. When it comes to matriculation, however, the Wolfpack is 2-0.

There were only 2 seniors on the team and both are moving on to play softball at the college level. Nina Gurgian (3rd and 1st bases) will be playing with the Comets at Mayville State University in North Dakota, while Emily Viggers (1st base) will play ball for the Princeton Tigers.

Nina has some adapting to do, because Mayville, which is close to Canada, experiences weather extremes. In the winter, the area gets below 20 degrees. Summers are known for their heat, humidity and mosquitoes. Whether sweltering or snow-covered, the campus, with its brick-and-stone buildings built at the turn of the last century, is picturesque.

“To me, it looks like Hogwart’s,” Nina said, referring to the castle wizard school in the popular Harry Potter series.

Nina, 17, doesn’t balk much at the thought of playing Division II softball, because it’s a path she’s been following her whole life. She began playing T-ball at age 5, played recreation ball until she was 8 and played travel softball until this year.

Her parents have always emphasized the importance of college and have encouraged her to play softball at the university level.

“They said, this is what you’re good at, so you’re going to pursue it further.”

Coach Gina Mattson listed some of the attributes that make Nina, who in 91 games with the Wolfpack has racked up a career batting average of .357 and a .426 on-base percentage, “a coach’s player.” 

“Nina is a very strong hitter,” coach Mattson said.  “She’s got the mechanics. She’s a smart player. She knows what to do.”

Assistant softball coach Jim Pulver is particularly impressed with Nina’s arm.

“She hits the ball so hard all the time. She has a lot of singles, but she’s bouncing them off the walls,” he said. “She just hits rockets 5 feet off the ground.”

Nina, who plans to pursue nursing, now awaits her official acceptance letter.

“There’s part of me that’s nervous going way so far and not knowing anyone, but I know I’ll have my coach and my new family, which is my team.” 

Emily is another athlete who started early, playing T-ball as a 6-year-old and participating in recreation ball through 8th grade.

“I stuck with softball because it was the only sport I was good at and kept getting better at,” she said.

Like Nina, Emily has played travel softball throughout high school. It was her travel ball coach who introduced her to representatives from Princeton at a recruiting tournament. They watched Emily play, got into contact with her and have kept the dialogue going ever since.

Emily, who plans to major in engineering, headed to New Jersey to visit Princeton last September and was charmed.

“I love the campus. It’s in kind of a small town, like Claremont,” she said.

Emily got her official acceptance letter to Princeton in January on her 18th birthday. Since family was already there for her birthday party, the achievement was added cause for celebration. 

“To play in college has always been my dream,” she said. 

While both Nina and Emily will be challenged at the college level, Emily has all the potential she needs to excel, Coach Mattson said.

“She’s smart, she knows her game, and she’s a great outfielder, no matter where I put her on the field,” she said.

Coach Pulver called Emily, who has a .983 fielding percentage and a career on-base percentage of .339, “solid with the glove.” He praised her for having “one of the best one-handed bunts.”

Emily says she expects both she and her teammate will thrive as freshmen on their respective varsity teams: “I think we both do well with pressure on our backs.”

Pack swimmers, divers jump into CIF waters

Several Wolfpack swimmers and divers are poised to make a splash at CIF prelims, set for Friday, May 11 at Riverside City College.

Two athletes from the boys varsity swim team, which ended the season 3rd in Sierra League, qualified for CIF competition. Junior Dylan Tarazona will swim the 100 butterfly (he’s the 2nd seed) and 50 freestyle. Junior Luke Miller will swim the 500 freestyle and 200 individual medley.

The girls will send senior Tana Wilson to the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. Tana will also swim in the 200 medley relay, with the help of CHS teammates Fernanda Suarez and Melissa Oei, both juniors, and freshman Makenna Bertrand.

Two seniors from the Claremont High School diving team—Keaton Hutchins and Danielle Johnson—qualified for CIF diving prelims, which were held Monday, May 9 at Riverside City College.

Head boys and girls varsity swim coach Courtney Eads took a moment to share some of her graduating seniors’ college prospects.

Tana Wilson will head for California State University, East Bay, joining the swim team. Lauren Mitchell has been accepted at Sonoma State University, where she will compete on the water polo team. Claire Gardenhire, who will attend the University of Arizona, is pondering playing water polo there. Jonah Dowd is also moving to college water polo play at George Washington University.

Their coach, who is in her second season at CHS, finds it easy to put herself in their shoes.

“I was there not too long ago myself,” said coach Eads, who was on the swim team at the University of Nevada. “It’s an exciting time in your life, telling your coach and family goodbye and being on your own for the first time. Exciting and a little scary, I bet.”


Baseball team wraps up league play

In the past 2 weeks, the Claremont High School varsity baseball team has garnered 4 wins, 3 of them in Sierra League play, bringing the Wolfpack to a 2nd-place spot.

The team’s most recent victories have been against Ayala High School on May 2 and May 4, with the Pack posting scores of 3-2 and 6-5, respectively.   

Head varsity baseball coach Geoff Ranney notes that Claremont also got “a boost of confidence” from a 7-5 win against Don Lugo, the final game of the rain-delayed Don Lugo Easter Tournament.

As leadoff hitter, second baseman Jeremy Giles (.432 batting average) has been an integral part of the team’s success. Coach Ranney said the junior is “hitting the ball really well” to jumpstart Claremont’s offense. His teammates are also hitting their stride.

“It’s a team effort, no doubt about it,” coach Ranney said. “That’s what’s nice about the unit we have. It’s everyone pulling together and doing the job necessary when we pull up to the plate.”

CHS players will have to pull together again when they wrap up league play with games against Sierra League front-runners the South Hills Huskies, Wednesday, May 9 in West Covina, and at home on Friday, May 11.

CHS (12-9-2 overall) needs to win one of this week’s games to ensure a spot in CIF competition. If the Pack takes Wednesday’s game, they also have a shot at playing the Huskies for the league title on Friday.

Coach Ranney is hoping for a healthy turnout at the upcoming home game.

“Our guys have worked really hard to get to this point. To be relevant this time of year is a big showing for the effort they’ve put forth. I would think the student body would be excited to see how it all shakes out.”

—Sarah Torribio


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