Enterprise staff writer
After beating the stuffing out of four straight opponents in one playoff tournament two weeks ago, the Davis Junior American Legion all-stars proved they could go toe-to-toe with anyone in winning the Area 1 showdown last weekend in Arcata.
Now they find themselves tuning up for another run at a California title Ñ the programÕs third such effort in the past 12 seasons.
ÒPitching and defense have been our strength, but (the) offense has taken some big steps forward over the last couple of weeks,Ó head coach Bob Creely says. ÒWe are getting leadership from some players by example.Ó
Creely, who teaches at Korematsu Elementary School and is the longtime DHS junior varsity coach, likes his guysÕ chances as theyÕll play at Yountville on Saturday in the opener of the double-elimination state playoffs.
ÒOffensively, guys like Ryan Plumb, Joe Murray and Bobby Young are doing a great job and have had key hits for us,Ó Creely explains, adding that the contributions this summer have come from everywhere.
ÒPlayers going into 12th grade making a difference are Galen Hoshovsky and Josh Merritt. Next yearÕs 11th-graders Ñ Jack Shelledy, Ben Eckels, George Hatamiya and Reinert Toft Ñ are stepping up, too,Ó Creely continues.
After dropping an early game in the District 6 playoffs in Sacramento, Davis brought out the big bats and hammered its foes into four consecutive mercy-rule decisions.
As expected, in the Arcata showdown against the regionÕs best, the locals used daring on the base paths, good fielding and lights-out pitching to continue on.
A case in point of the style change required has been the play of Hoshovsky.
In Sacramento, his home run and double were game-changers. In the Area 1 Tournament, Hoshovsky stole home to help Davis beat Colusa, 3-2 Ñ a team that had stopped the locals, 4-3, the day before.
While Creely was happy to see his bats singing early on, heÕs been doubly giddy about the pitching down the stretch.
ÒCertain pitchers need to be mentioned. Shelledy, Eckels, Hatamiya, Young, Toft and Hoshovsky have been so strong, we feel we are always going to get a good outing,Ó Creely says, knowing the mound staff is always a key in playoffs like at Yountville.
HatamiyaÕs on-base percentage has provided spark for Davis, and he earned a win in an Area 1 game and picked up the save in the title tilt.
Merritt, moved around from first to the outfield and on to the mound, Òhas made a difference in several games,Ó according to the coach. Creely adds there are so many places to credit efforts that he might as well just read off the entire roster.
Creely points out his coaching staff has been second to none: Dan Ariola (DHS head coach), Tony Bloomfield (Cosumnes River College skipper) and Brian Creely have been in the dugout.
ÒGreat help came during the regular season … from Steve Holm, Brent Miille and Tim McCormick,Ó Creely adds.
Ariola, who started the Junior American Legion Davis team in 1998, took the locals to the state tournament that first year.
If precedence is a barometer of whatÕs ahead at the high school, that Õ98 team should bode well for the Blue Devils.
With familiar names like Sam Herbert, David Butterworth, Brian Brannam, Brian Creely and Chase McElree on the roster, AriolaÕs 1998 Legion squad translated into a 2000 Sac-Joaquin Section title.
Notes: ÒOur parents have been so supportive,Ó Creely added, noting the weeklong trip to Arcata was demanding. ÒMany have taken a lead in helping to organize travel … they seem to work together very well. We want to thank those who drove all summer and up to Arcata.Ó Creely also thanked Post 77 guru Frank Eakle and Rich Hudson for their support during the playoff run. …In 2007, Davis finished third in the state with former Blue Devil standouts Tanner Mohr, Kyle Williams, Jeff Boulware, Bo MacArthur, Trevor Cecil and Corey MacDonald, among others.
Ñ Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or (530) 747-8056. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com