Clovis News: Sports

High school notes: Prandini wins B'nai B'rith

Jenna Prandini's latest golden moment occurred at 8:47 p.m. Monday at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building.

It was then that the Clovis High track and field All-American, volleyball standout and straight-A student was named the B'nai B'rith Student Athlete Award winner – and it occurred only about a mile from the Clovis home in which she's been raised.

"It's a really big honor because everyone nominated was very deserving of the award," Prandini said.

Prandini, who will compete in track and field at NCAA power Oregon, won a $2,500 scholarship while beating out 15 other top student-athletes in Fresno County.

"I was just happy I was nominated," she said. "Either way, if I won or didn't, I would still be happy because whoever won would be very deserving."

Prandini also recently shared the Central Section Female Scholar-Athlete Award with Stockdale's Alex Collatz.

Prandini is a two-time Fresno Bee Athlete of the Year in track and field, where she has won a section record nine career gold medals. Last season, she also won gold medals in the long and triple jumps and a silver in the 100-meter dash in the CIF State Track and Field Championships. And she was a Bee All-Star last fall in volleyball.

Bears' continued drama

Jordan Luplow returns to Buchanan with a bang – er, make that two bangs.

Nate Rousey is gone – for the second time.

ESPN RISE promotes the Bears from No. 3 to No. 1 nationally in baseball.

And MaxPreps drops Buchanan from No. 1 to No. 12 and now to No. 9, despite the 27-2 Bears not losing.

Such is a season stuffed with headlines for Buchanan. Most have been positive for the Central Section's top Division I seed, which will play at home Friday against either No. 8 Bullard or No. 9 Bakersfield in the quarterfinals.

The postseason, Luplow and Rousey are priorities – the rankings are not.

Luplow, a 2010 Bee All-Star who has recovered from shoulder surgery, made his first appearance of the season Friday and merely homered and tripled in a 9-4 win over Clovis North.

Rousey, however, is surely gone for good after feeling a pop in his right (throwing) elbow while relieving in the seventh inning of the same game. Bears coach Tom Donald said Rousey probably will have an MRI on Wednesday.

The junior right-hander hadn't given up a run in five innings while closing for the past three weeks after missing the season's first two months because of a double hernia surgery.

"Unbelievable, just unbelievable," says 13-year coach Donald, who early in the season had his entire starting infield out with injuries. "We've had our share of adversity, mainly injuries. But I've never had a club go through this many."

Bullard a threat

There's not a more dangerous No. 8 seed in all of section baseball than Bullard.

Yes, the Knights start a combination of at least six or seven sophomore and juniors every game. Yes, they finished third in the County/Metro Athletic Conference. And, yes, it's been a subpar season for coach Chad Thornhill's program at 15-13.

But pay attention: junior right-hander Blake Quinn, who will oppose Bakersfield today, can beat anybody. And should they get to Buchanan on Friday, Thornhill will turn without reservation to Zach Burt, a sophomore left-hander who beat D-I second-seeded Centennial earlier in the season before conquering D-II top seed Madera 3-1 on Friday.

Memorial robbed

There was a seeding problem Saturday, but let's preface the complaint.

Section commissioner Jim Crichlow and three area superintendents spent 61/2 hours placing a total of 124 baseball and softball teams in 12 divisions.

Their report card, historically, has posted mostly A's. Their top four seeds have routinely made the final four in all sports, boys and girls.

But they missed on Memorial baseball in D-II. Badly.

A team HAS to be rewarded for winning its league. But, somehow, the Panthers were punished with a No. 3 seed despite beating No. 1 Madera in two of three games while capturing the CMAC title. Second-seeded Frontier, which shared the SWYL crown with Centennial, was seeded No. 2.

Crichlow's committee considers several criteria, mainly head-to-head competition and strength of schedule.

But, when in doubt, they need to consider this: Winning league and section championships are top priorities for coaches. Winning nonleague tournaments are not. Yet those tournaments produce results that are regarded heavily by the committee. Example: Madera's 4-1 win over Frontier on a neutral field in the Fresno Easter Classic.

That was a key win, no question, for the Coyotes. But it should have been trumped by Memorial's league title because they play in the same conference.

And, on Saturday, D-II should have read: 1, Memorial; 2, Madera; 3. Frontier.