Spring Season off to a good start for Baseball, Softball, WSC Tennis, Webb Badminton

Frank Dariano
WSC Baseball – Months of informal and formal Spring Training finally ended when Webb School of California Varsity Baseball faced Flintridge Prep in the season opener Wednesday. It was also the opening game of the 2017 Kare Classic Baseball Tournament, which runs through this Friday. Early season jitters affected both teams in the opening innings. Many of the early runs were scored on passed balls and walks. Players getting hit by pitches was a common occurrence as well. Wyatt Albert ’17 got the Webb offense going early with a first inning RBI single. Starting pitcher Eric Evans ’19 helped his own cause by driving home two runs in the second. That sparked a rally that saw the Gauls hang seven runs on the Rebels in the second inning. Flintridge pitcher Nick Davis struggled to find his rhythm, while Evans and relief pitcher Blake Pedersen ‘18 both adjusted. A solo home run by Spencer Stewart ’17 combined with a diving catch from Albert in centerfield lifted the game out of reach, and Webb went on to win 10-6.
On Friday, WSC welcomed Rowland to Chandler Baseball Field. The game started out slowly with neither teams scoring through the second inning. However, in the top of the third, Rowland scored one run off an error in the Webb outfield. Trailing until the bottom of the fourth inning, Webb scored when the Raiders walked a baserunner home on a catching error behind the plate. The Gauls scored again off an RBI single by Blake Pederson. Webb was up 2-1 starting the fifth inning. In the bottom of the fifth, JJ Cunningham ‘19 hit an RBI double and ran Spencer Stewart home. That sealed a 3-1 Gauls victory. Webb (2-0) continues the tournament at Mary Star of the Sea Tuesday – co-written by Maya Fassler ’17.
VWS Softball – Friday afternoon marked the debut of Ron Smith as Vivian Webb Varsity Softball head coach. “It was probably the most gratifying win I’ve ever had as a coach….they played like we know they can play.” Facing Colony, a school with an enrollment roughly six times as large as Webb, the Gauls didn’t wait to start making noise. After Colony scored two in the top of the first inning, Elyse Morris ’17 walked and Rebecca Whithorn ’18 got VWS’ first base hit. Two batters later, Chandler Luebbers ’17 brought her home with an RBI double. That brought up catcher Sarah Renfrew ’17, who belted a three-run homer to left center making it 4-2 Vivian Webb. Renfrew said her team’s energy really impressed her. “We came in thinking that a big public school could tear us down but after we got four runs we were all pumped up.” The Gauls would never trail again in the game. Luebbers pitched a complete game with five strikeouts, while Morris, Whithorn, and Hannalise Davidson ’20 drove home runs. Webb’s starting freshmen, including Chloe Stewart at shortstop, Emily Arias at third base, and Davidson in left field, gave the team an extra edge. Jessica Renfrew ’17 went 3-3 with a trio of singles, while Thea Kirkpatrick ’18 made a series of great catches in the late innings, and VWS won 8-3. Smith has high praise for his players, and said “nerves” was the only thing holding them back. “Once they relax, get the flow of the game going, they’ll be fine, they’re a very talented team.”  He says he expects to use Luebbers on the mound just as he did Friday, “she’s our bulldog.” VWS (1-0) plays at Whittier Christian on Tuesday.
Webb Swimming and Diving - In what Head Coach Ken Rosenfeld called "the most spirited swim meet in the history of Webb swim meets", Webb Varsity Swim crushed Artesia with the girls winning 113 to 52 and the boys winning 123 to 24. There were a few notable swims during the meet. Riley Brick ‘19 swam a 1:10 in the 100 breaststroke. Last year she set a Webb record time of 1:08 and claims that starting out the year with a 1:10 after being away from swim for a season due to water polo gives her a lot of room to work with. This year she would like to bring her time down to a 1:06 in the event.
Riley Brick, Berné Malekow ‘17, Mei Mei Chu ‘17, and Alison Lilley were three seconds away from breaking another Webb record in the medley relay. Considering that three out of the four were off last season for water polo, they expect to improve their time from last year greatly.
The Varsity teams soundly defeated their counterparts from Artesia. WSC Varsity won 123-24, while VWS Varsity won 113-52. The JV boys lost 57-40, while the JV girls had the closest match of the day, losing 75-69. – co-written by Maya Fassler ‘17
WSC Volleyball – Playing in the season opening Crean Lutheran Tournament in Irvine, Webb School of California Varsity Volleyball played a grueling eight games. Head Coach Howie Kalter says that while his team lost every match they played they “got a lot of experience and took advantage of lots of chances to improve their game.” During the six pool play games, Kalter says the Gauls got better at “positioning themselves” on the court and built momentum and confidence as the games wore on. He said the scores of their games got tighter and tighter throughout the day.
Luke Lewis ’19 played a strong day serving as the team’s libero throughout the tournament. Kalter especially lauded Mark Lehmann ’17, who played middle blocker for the first time ever and did very well. Kalter says Lehmann’s presence is much needed as Hoyin Tsoi ’19 missed the tournament with an injury but is expected back this week.
Webb left the tournament with an overall 0-1 record, as their playoff match versus Yucaipa was the only one that counted. Playing a best two of three game, the Thunderbirds beat Webb 25-14, 25-13. WSC will have its season opener Tuesday against St. Anthony, a game that will air live on The NFHS Network. The Saints will be making their season debut, having gone 13-12 in 2016.
WSC Tennis – Webb School of California Tennis got the season started earlier than any other team. Coach Ron Martinez’s boys notched two blowout wins in February, an 18-0 win at West Covina on February 21st and a 17-1 win in their home opener over Covina. On Thursday, the Gauls got San Joaquin League play off to a strong start with a 15-3 win over Tarbut V’Torah. Number one singles player Deepak Tummala ’17 won two of three matches (6-4,6-1,1-6), while Webb’s number two and three, Tom Liu ‘18 and Ramos Wu ’17, won four of their six total matches. WSC’s doubles pairs won eight of nine total matches, including sweeps by number one pair Raffi Huang ’17 and Darren Hsu ’17, and number two pair Kia Nalbandi ’18 and Juan Pablo Calderoni ’19.  
Webb’s three-game win streak ended Friday with a 15-3 loss at Pasadena Poly. Coach Martinez says his team was “on the tired side…it’s all a matter of getting bodies into the right places.” Still he says the loss was a way to build character. “We’ll be challenged more as time goes on…it becomes a matter of who wants it more.” Webb’s number two and number three singles players were swept, and the doubles pairs manages just one win in nine games on the day. Coach Martinez says his first and second singles and doubles players are set for the season but the “number threes are still a question mark.” J.P. Calderoni made his singles debut against Poly, while Tony Jun ’18 played on the number three doubles team. Webb (3-1) plays three home games this week, including Damien (Tuesday), Bonita (Friday), and league foe Notre Dame Riverside (Saturday).
Webb Badminton – Webb’s massive badminton team took it to Gladstone in its season opener on Thursday. Les Perry Gymnasium was jumping with activity and Webb’s varsity players were already looking very solid. Singles standouts Albert Zhang ’18 and Macy Huang ’18 led the way, while Vivian Webb got to show off in doubles courtesy of Grace Wang ’17 and Claire Jiang ’17. What stood out throughout the match was the incredible spirit of the team. Webb teammates gathered near each court and cheered on their fellow Gauls from the start to the end of the match. On a team filled with veteran varsity players, that was especially nice for new faces to see. A group of girls and boys gathered to cheer on Anam Zaidi ’18, a newer varsity player for Vivian Webb.
The junior varsity team also enjoyed a constant cheer session and freshmen Chris Ma, Kara Sun, and Deanna Oei gave Webb plenty to celebrate. Webb went on to dominate the Gladiators, winning 17-4. Webb (1-0) hosts Redlands East Valley on Friday
WSC Golf – Webb School of California Golf got off to a good start Friday, despite a close loss. Playing at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, the Gauls fell just short against Pasadena Poly, 217-235.  “We graduated quite a few solid players last year and one of our biggest challenges will be filling their shoes,” says Head Coach Andrew Neyer, “especially with such a young team.”  “I'm hoping to play the freshman as much as I can so they get a lot of experience in a competitive setting.”  Neyer is relying heavily on Dillon Kim ‘17 and RJ Duque ‘17 to bring leadership to the team.  Both are four year players and will be Webb’s number one and two golfers this season.
Neyer plans to continue pairing freshmen players with his seniors to keep building team unity and experience. He says the team is responding quickly and is very enthusiastic. Webb (0-1) will play its league opener at home against Tarbut V’Torah. Neyer says the team was the last group off the course Monday afternoon and has consistently held practice until sunset.
Webb Track & Field – The score of Friday’s season opener at Montclair is still being calculated but new head coach Chanel Parker says the meet was “so much fun” for her athletes. She noticed that her team has become “much more serious” about improving in their various events as the last few weeks of practice have gone by. Stay tuned to future writeups for results from this event. Webb is at the Prep League Cluster meet at Occidental College in Eagle Rock Tuesday.

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