Saturday, May 26, 2007

Shirck Continues To Roll, Sacramento Next

Nordhoff High School senior Brandon Shirck continued what he defined as an "amazing pace" at Friday night's CIF-Southern Section Masters Track and Field competition at Norwalk Cerritos College.
The Tri Valley League 1600-meter champion finished with a time of 4:12.24, good for fifth place overall out of the entire 564-school Southern Section, but more importantly, good enough to advance to Friday's prelims in Sacramento.
"I was so nervous out there I could hear my heart beat," Shirck said. "This is the best feeling ever. I could hear people around me dying and I just started to push harder."
Shirck either needed to hit the state qualifying mark of 4:16.62 or finish in the top five. The senior also set a personal record.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ojai's Lowry Becoming Giants' Ace

By Mike Miller
The Ojai Valley’s favorite major league baseball player is quietly in the midst of putting together the finest season of his young professional career. Noah Lowry is currently 5-4 with an impressive 2.69 ERA over nine starts this season. Lowry has recovered after a tumultuous season last year that saw him battle through injury after injury to become one of the leaders on the San Francisco Giants pitching staff early in the 2007 season. Last season Lowry went 7-10 with a 4.74 ERA after spending a month on the disabled list. He focused on a new and improved strength and conditioning program in the off-season and by the looks of his first nine starts, it is paying dividends.
When asked about the injuries last year, Lowry told the OVN Tuesday, “When you get hurt and battle through injuries, your mechanics are out of whack because you are overcompensating. I was forced to change my pitching motion which made me to use muscles that I typically did not use, and that resulted in some injuries. My strength program addressed those weak areas and my body is feeling really good right now. I am confident that I will be ready to go every fifth day now.” Lowry is best known for his wicked off-speed pitches and according to his peers, has one of the best breaking balls in all of the major leagues. “Consistency has been the key (to his fast start), I have had a mix of good control and I have been able to throw my off-speed stuff at any point in the count with a lot of confidence. When I have command of my breaking ball and I can pinpoint my fastball, I will be effective,” said Lowry. The word is getting out that the Giants hurler is becoming a force in the National League. The Houston Astro’s team leader and future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was recently quoted by CBS as saying, “He (Lowry) doesn’t miss. He’s put it together. He pitches us tough.”
The 2005 Roberto Clemente Award recipient has also undergone a change in managers this season with the arrival of Bruce Bochy in San Francisco. “Bochy is a great manager. He is a good communicator and he really does a great job with the pitching staff,” added Lowry. A key moment between pitcher and manager occurred on May 16, when the Giants were playing the Astros. “It was late in the game and I had just walked Brad Ausmus. Bochy came out and could have pulled me, but he stuck with me. That means a lot to me and shows that he has confidence in me. He wants us all to be successful as players and guys like that,” said Lowry.
The Giants will return to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers July 31 for a three-game set. Check the OVN Sports Section to get a weekly update on Lowry’s progress.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thacher Beat In Opening Round Of CIF

The Thacher baseball team knew that Daniel Campos was going to be a tough nut to crack in their first round CIF-SS match-up against Maricopa yesterday. They were right as Campos limited the Toads to only two hits over seven innings. To add to Thacher's troubles, Campos struck out 16 batters. Maricopa went on to win the game 4-0 when they scored four runs in the bottom of the second. See Wednesday's edition for more information on the game.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Highland Retains Soule Park Golf Course

By Daryl Kelley
Operators of the county-owned Soule Park golf course in east Ojai will continue to manage the facility for at least another 10 years under an agreement the Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday.

“We think this is an excellent agreement for the county, and we’ve gotten an excellent response from golfer representatives,” said Rebecca Arnold, deputy director of the county General Services Agency.

Highlands Golf, the current operator, prevailed over four other bidders, because of its performance in helping to reconstruct the flood-damaged Ojai links and its acclaim as operator of the county’s Rustic Canyon course in Moorpark.

“We liked their proven track record at Rustic Canyon,” Arnold said. “They’ve received kudos and acclaim for Rustic.” That links-style public course is consistently ranked among the best in Southern California.

Soule Park head professional Tyson York “has also done an excellent job” of bringing golf tournaments back to Soule Park this year after it recovered from reconstruction, Arnold said.

York said tournament days now stand at 133 for 2007, compared with about 130 before the floods and 30 in the reconstruction year.

A recent poll by the Los Angeles Times ranked Ojai’s picturesque Soule Park links as one of the top bargains in the region. Rounds cost at little as $18 after 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Since the devastating floods of 2005, a $4.1-million reconstruction has replaced all of the course’s tees and greens and added more than 60 sand traps – plus adding about 1,000 yards to the 18 holes.

Highlands Golf was chosen to continue operations because revenues over the next 10 years were expected to reach $4 million, a $400,000 annual average similar to that in decades past, Arnold said.

The annual guarantee is only $180,000 by Highlands, but the county’s share of other revenue is expected to bring in about $138,000 next year, or $318,000 overall, with county revenues expected to scale upward after that, she said.

All revenues from course operations are expected to be $2.6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, she said. And next fiscal year’s anticipated revenue is $2.7 million.

Highlands Golf prevailed over bidders Bill Casper Golf, Touchstone Golf, Bellows Golf Management and Evergreen Alliance Golf. A committee evaluated the highly varied proposals and determined that Highlands “offered the best value to the county,” said Arnold in her letter to supervisors.

The agreement also required Highlands to spend $100,000 for capital improvements initially and 4 percent of its green fees annually after that, or at least $60,000 a year.

Arnold said the deal is good for the county because golf’s popularity has fallen in recent years: in the last year alone, rounds played are off 3.7 percent in Los Angeles County and 3.5 percent in Orange County, she said.

Just what Highlands will do with Soule Park’s restaurant, near the clubhouse, is still being discussed, Arnold said. Highlands recently changed restaurant management after a campaign to bring in more dinner customers failed. Arnold said dinners still may not be served because restaurants in Ojai are having a hard time, but the patio area may be expanded and the d├ęcor updated.

“This is a subject we’ve been talking about a lot in the last two months,” York said. “It’s a great venue for a restaurant. It’s a spectacular view. But people think of it as a golf course, not a restaurant.”

The county Parks Commission approved the contract Monday, and supervisors’ approval followed on Tuesday.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thacher To Face Maricopa In Playoffs

The Thacher Toads' baseball team will take on the Maricopa Indians in the first round of the CIF-SS Division VII playoffs this Friday in Maricopa. The Indians are 14-3 overall and 10-1 in the Coast Valley League. Thacher heads into the playoffs on a two-game winning streak and they are 9-5 on the season. See Friday's edition for a statistical breakdown of this match up.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Oaks Christian Beats NHS Baseball Squad

The Oaks Christian Lions defeated Nordhoff 8-4 on Tuesday afternoon. The Rangers sent Trevor Lawry to the mound and he was later replaced by Keegan Rose. Casey Barker and David Brown both had two hits on the day. The star of the game for Oaks was Sean McCarthy who went 4-4 with 2 RBIs.

With the win, Oaks improves to 10-12 overall, but they are 8-3 in league. The Rangers have dropped four in-a-row and are now 4-14-1, 3-8.