The Santa Monica High baseball and softball teams won the Ocean League a year ago. The baseball team had a 9-1 record. The softball team was 10-0.
What could they do for an encore? Both go undefeated? Why not?
Both teams completed their league schedules Thursday, May 8 with victories at Culver City High, the second place team. Both Samohi teams finished with a 10-0 record.
The baseball team, which had clinched the league championship two days earlier with a 2-1 win over Culver City, won again, 2-0 in 10 innings.
Paul Salazar pitched the win Tuesday, and then Tyler Skaggs turned in one of the best pitching performances in Samohi history — a 10-inning one-hitter with 16 strikeouts and no walks.
The game was scoreless until Vince Lawrence doubled in the 10th and scored on a single by Logan Whitchurch. An infield error brought in the second run.
Because Samohi had clinched the league title in Tuesday’s win, the final league game wasn’t as important as it might have been, and when it was scoreless after seven innings both coaches considered removing their pitchers to rest them for the playoffs.
Culver City Coach Rick Prieto did make a change, taking out Adrian Campos, but Samohi’s Rob Duron decided to stay with Skaggs.
“His pitch count was low even with the strikeouts,” Duron explained. “And with only one playoff game next week, which Salazar will pitch, Skaggs will get plenty of rest.”
Skaggs, who had a perfect game until giving up a single with two outs in the seventh, threw just as hard in the extra innings and totaled only 101 pitches.
“Not only didn’t he walk anyone, he had several one-pitch outs,” Duron observed.
Skaggs is a 6-foot-4 junior who has received much attention from college programs. He currently has the most interest in Cal State Fullerton and Arizona, but he may have the option of bypassing college by being a high pick in the baseball draft one year from now.
Tall, talented left-handed pitchers are in demand in professional baseball, and Skaggs’ fastball has been clocked at 91mph. High draft choices command huge bonus money. And while that possibility exists, the young man continues to live his high school life. He played junior varsity basketball last season and is expected to make the varsity in his senior season.
His father, Darrell, attends most games, and his mother, Debbie, makes as many as possible. She has conflicts because she’s the softball coach at Samohi — a job she’s held for 20 years.
So there was Debbie, coaching her game at an adjacent field Thursday, receiving updates on Tyler via text messages from a friend, then arriving at the baseball diamond in time for the last few innings.
“I did get a glimpse of Tyler by watching through the fence during our game,” she admitted.
As for her game, the Samohi girls once again displayed their superiority, running up a 13-0 win over their closest league pursuer, easily defeating them for the second time this season.
After losing two games in the El Segundo Tournament, the Samohi girls’ squad completed its regular season schedule with four shutout victories, improving its overall record to 21-8. In Ocean League games Samohi hasn’t lost in four years.
With sophomore Celisha Walker arriving this season to bolster an already strong team, the Vikings are not only one of the best ones Skaggs has had but also one of the youngest.
Walker has emerged as the star pitcher and second leading hitter. And shortstop Kaile Nakao, the league’s MVP last season, has recently returned from a long absence due to mononucleosis.
Walker has a 14-4 pitching record and is batting .430. Nakao leads with a .433 average and Holly Elander is third at .424.
Now both top-notch Samohi teams will face the CIF’s best in the playoffs, which start this week.