Wednesday, March 11, 2020. A day all San Pedro Prep Sports Spring Semester teams will remember for a long time.
On this day, San Pedro High baseball would ride a solid performance on the mound from senior pitcher Travis Connelly, and two huge home runs, first by senior infielder Joshua Duarte on the first pitch of the game, and a two-run homer from senior catcher Waldier Perez in the sixth, all the way to a 3-1 road victory at Palisades Charter.
Also on the same day, Mary Star Of The Sea High softball would come through with one of their biggest victories in program history when they won 4-1 over visiting Banning of Wilmington in a Torrance National Tournament pool play game, thanks to a brilliant outing in the circle by Loyola Marymount-bound pitcher Alessandra Samperio, who struck out ten and also brought in a run with a single.
It was the first, and only game the Stars would play that entire tournament as on the next day, rain postponed every game for the 24-team tournament. However, on Friday, March 13… the win over Banning would be the last game Mary Star softball would play all year long.
The rapid and ravenous outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) which captivated the entire world, would put to a halt all spring sports all over the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), leaving very little hope for all high schools hoping to continue their respective seasons in baseball, softball, boys volleyball, boys & girls track, boys tennis and any other Spring-based sport.
Three weeks later… after recent statements made by Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent Of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond that schools will employ social distance learning for the remainder of the school year, Friday, April 3 would be the day all spring sports would be officially cancelled when CIF made the decision to do just that.
“Yes, it’s terrible”, San Pedro baseball coach Steve Tedesco said of the cancellation of spring sports.
The Pirates had a 14-senior laden team with every intention of challenging for the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Open Division championship, yet after the win over Palisades, their season officially ended at 4-2-1 without any Marine League games to be played this season. San Pedro was able to get two home games under their belt, and that’s the same number of games Port Of Los Angeles High softball has played all season long… just two games.
“While it (stinks) that our season has to end before it really began, the health of everyone is more important right now,” POLA baseball senior infielder Ian Renn said. “To all my teammates and coaches and everyone who came to support POLA baseball, thank you for everything. I couldn’t imagine a better family to play baseball with.”
The Mary Star baseball and softball teams were both starting strong, with the baseball team winning their own Cliff Classic Tournament plus sporting an 8-3 record before the cancellation of spring sports. The softball team was 5-3, all poised to capture a third straight Camino Real League title and was riding high after a rare victory over Banning before the COVID-19 outbreak delivered a crushing blow to the hopes of the nine seniors on the team.
“This team I played with, is more than just a team,” Mary Star’s San Jose State-bound senior shortstop Ashley Rico said. “These girls are my sisters and always had my back on and off the field no matter what it was. We made history at Mary Star Of The Sea High School and I’ll never forget this team.”
Meanwhile, San Pedro High softball was also on the verge of another breakthrough season. The Pirates were 3-3 amidst tough competition early, battled a last-minute coaching change right before season started and garnered two commits of their own during the season.
Senior P/SS Briana Velazquez was on a hot pace with the bat, hitting an astonishing .700 (14-for-20) and making a verbal commit to Bethune Cookman University. Her fellow battery partner, senior catcher Brianna Talamantes was also having a wonderful season of her own, committing to Chaminade University (Hawaii). The Pirates were senior and junior heavy looking to challenge for both the Marine League and CIF-Los Angeles City Section Open Division titles before the season abruptly ended.
“It’s so sad we couldn’t finish our season together and potentially win a championship,” San Pedro junior OF/P Kirstin Sanchez said. “We were so excited to have an unforgettable year, but our health is very important. My heart goes out to all the (six) seniors because they deserve to remember their last year and make so many memories playing the sport we all love.”
San Pedro boys volleyball also looked solid early in 2020 with a 4-2 record, closing out the year in early March with a five-set victory at North Torrance.