'Tis the season for some honey lemon tea,
Local sports fans must be in need of some soothing liquid treat after all the hooting and hollering the Simi Valley faithful have been doing in 2017. Give those motivational vocal chords a rest and take a look back at the top sports moments.
We are keeping our list to five items, but there were plenty of other events that just missed the cut.
Pioneer fans tipped their cap to Jered Weaver, a Simi Valley High graduate and a three-time Major League Baseball All-Star, on his impressive 12-season career. Weaver decided to hang up the spikes in August.
Matt Sciumbato, a Royal grad, and Troy Frazier, a Grace Brethren grad, dog-piled with Kingsmen teammates after the Cal Lutheran University baseball team captured the NCAA Division III College World Series on May 30.
Grace Brethren swimmer Tobias Hynes won a gold medal in the boys’ 50-yard freestyle at the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 finals in May. Grace Brethren’s girls’ basketball and girls’ soccer teams reached section title games.
In the biggest sporting event in the city—and dare we say, Ventura County—Royal’s football team defeated Simi Valley 27-23 on Nov. 3.
Here are the top five sports moments of 2017:
Stay classy, Royal
The Highlanders have class.
Every player on the Royal High baseball team donned the No. 10 in the Highlanders’ game against South Torrance on March 24 as a tribute to South Torrance shortstop Jesse Esphorst Jr., who was killed in a hit-and-run car accident in March. Esphorst wore No. 10 with South Torrance.
Royal head coach Dan Maye collected every No. 10 jersey he could find and distributed the mix of green, white and pinstriped jerseys to his players.
South baseball’s Twitter account shared a thank-you: “A classy gesture by a classy program. Thank you @HighlanderBB #playforjesse.”
Royal won the game, 2-0. The gesture by Maye and the Highlanders will not soon be forgotten.
LANCERS SOAR TO THE TOP
The lows of Grace Brethren’s football team are long forgotten.
The Lancers are champions again.
Grace Brethren claimed the CIF-Southern Section Division 8 title with a 63-27 rout of Antelope Valley on Dec. 1. The Lancers also reached their first CIF state championship game, which ended with a 22-13 defeat against Saint Francis of Mountain View in the Division 2-A finals on Dec. 16 at Sacramento State.
A dominant rushing game, powered by Lontrelle Diggs and Seven McGhee, and a stingy defense, led by Josh Henderson, Justin Skidmore and Jauqine Vukobradovich, were key in the resurgence of the Lancer program.
SURGING ON THE SOCER PITCH
The Pioneer boys’ soccer team partied like it was 2010.
Simi Valley claimed the Coastal Canyon League title, which was the 15th league title in the program’s history and its first since hanging up a Marmonte banner in 2010.
The Pioneers finished the season 10-7-3 overall, 5-2-1 in league.
Superstar striker Caleb Malabo led the Pioneers with 18 goals and five assists in his senior season.
PIONEERS RUN THIS WAY TO STATE
Jill Walker made a statement during her freshman year on the girls’ cross country team.
Walker, a Simi Valley rookie, reached the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 25. She placed ninth in the Division 2 race with a time of 18 minutes, 11 seconds.
Walker reached the state meet with Simi Valley boys’ cross country standout Andrew Teasdale, who concluded his career with a time of 16:08 in his first appearance at the state meet in Fresno.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Vinc “From Hell” Pichel’s first fight after a three-year hiatus from the UFC lasted three minutes,
Pichel, a Simi Valley resident with a 10-1 record, dropped Damien Brown with a vicious uppercut to earn the first-round knockout at UFC Fight Night 110 at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
The professional fighter, who trains at Street Sports Simi Valley, was sidelined with a pair of injuries before making his return in March.
Pichel, 35, is scheduled to take on undefeated Joaquim Silva (10-0) in Charlotte, N.C., on Jan. 27.