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Spring Previews
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Escalon High School has several teams busy this spring, all with the goal of putting together a winning season and working toward bringing the Trans-Valley League championship home. Following are brief previews of this spring's varsity teams.


Everyone wants to take you down when you're at the top.

Escalon's varsity Cougars know that ... but retaining the Trans-Valley League championship won't be easy this year ... and they know that, too.

Three time defending champions, the Cougars are looking for a solid season in league play and aiming for a return to the Section title contest, where they lost last season just one win short of the crown.

Three sophomores have been brought up to join the varsity team this year, adding some youthful enthusiasm, hustle and flexibility.

Head coach Greg Largent has several seniors returning and expects them to play key roles, including shortstop Jacob Caton, centerfielder Nick Aprile, first baseman/outfielder Thomas Ray, pitcher Jimmy Zepeda, outfielder Chris Smith and pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Jake Winkler. Juniors including catcher and relief pitcher Leighton Pangilinan and utility player Tony Gonzales will help the team, along with pitchers John Lopez, Jon Whitesitt and pitcher/outfielder/first baseman Josh Messersmith. Also on the roster is a transfer student, junior pitcher Blake Rommel and sophomores making the move up to the varsity level include second baseman Spencer Franceschetti, third baseman/pitcher Nick Largent and designated hitter/first baseman/catcher Derrick DeFreitas.

"We're kind of building a bit for the future," Largent said of bringing some youth on board.

No teams can be counted out in the Trans-Valley League, he added, especially when it comes to playing Escalon.

"The road to the title goes through here," Largent said, noting that teams will be looking to knock them off the championship stand and each opponent will "bring their A game" against the Cougars.

"We do have the same staff," Largent said, with first base/hitting coach Vince Cowan returning, along with pitching coach Andy Gasper, bench coach Brandon Hoover and defensive coach Dusty Fox.


Hopes are high this season for Escalon's varsity Lady Cougars on the softball diamond, as they have some solid returning players and some excellent, young arms to take the mound.

Returning head coach Dianne Teixeira is happy to have two freshmen join the varsity squad in key roles, sharing time between second base and the pitching mound. Both Caitlin Brooks and Casey Schmidig have fit right in with their older teammates, she said.

"It has been awesome, they both have a great attitude and are so energetic," Teixeira said of the young guns.

The two have both played competitive travel softball, so are well aware of the pressures of the game at a higher level. Making the jump from middle school to the varsity diamond hasn't seemed to bother them.

"They've been doing great, they've been around a while so they know what to do," Teixeira said, noting that they rotate between second base and pitching with ease.

Key returners for the varsity girls this season are three-year varsity starters Corrie Dollarhide at third base and Audree Mendez in centerfield.

"They are our captains," Teixeira said of the team leaders. "They've been with us three years."

Also back are seniors Hillary Jones and Cynthia Freitas, along with junior Kattie Schmidig anchoring the defense from behind the plate.

Junior Jordon Costa has joined the varsity and is playing a solid first base, with sophomore Lounette Jackson making the plays at shortstop.

"Jordon is improving each day and Lounette has a great arm at shortstop, she dives and does well," said Teixeira.

Other players are ready to do their part as well, said the coach.

"All these girls want it," she said of battling for the Trans-valley League title and a spot in the playoffs.

She pointed to Hughson and Modesto Christian as being their toughest competition in league.

"We play them each three times so we have our chances to get them," she said. "We just need to keep it consistent. They're working on it."


Strong defense combined with some speed and skill on offense hopefully will translate into a winning season for Escalon's varsity soccer girls.

They will look to battle for a spot in the playoffs, as well as fighting it out for the top spot in the Trans-Valley League. The former may be easier to achieve than the latter, as defending champion Ripon returns nearly all its weapons.

Still, Escalon has its share of high-powered players.

"Senior Megan Moore is our sweeper and she is an outstanding defensive player, doing a fantastic job for us," returning coach Craig Humrichouse said. "We also have senior Faryn Bolls on defense, she is playing very well for us and probably the best defensive player we have right now is Ashleigh Mossmayer, she is at halfback for us."

A veteran of some travel ball years, Mossmayer is using that experience to key the Lady Cougar defense. Senior Kayla Ryan returns in goal.

On the offensive side, Annie Gallego and Amanda Franklin both return and will need to step up to help fill the void left with the graduation departure of Kaity Bojorquez.

"She was the league MVP ... you can't replace a Kaity Bojorquez, she just dominated matches all on her own," admitted Humrichouse of his standout player who went on to attend Stanislaus State on a soccer scholarship.

The plus side of losing her, the coach added, is having other people come to the forefront to key the offense. Along with Gallego and Franklin, look for players up from the JV team - Kara McKee and Melanie Winkler - to figure heavily into the varsity attack.

"They will have a huge impact," Humrichouse said, with both already notching goals and assists this season.

It will be a tough league, with nearly all teams having a shot at playoffs. Riverbank has a new coach so they are the one question mark as to how they will perform; Ripon, Hughson and Modesto Christian will be formidable opponents.

"We need to keep our heads up, keep working," Humrichouse said. "We'll win our share."