PREP NOTES WITH A TWIST

Topics include Fairfield softball coach Ron Clarke, a baseball player with 18 doubles, a baseball team with 10 homers in one game, a former basketball player from Fresno Edison who's now starring in the NBA, and more from the best prep notes column in the state.

•SOFTBALL COACH EARNS 600TH WIN: California now has two high school softball coaches with 600 or more varsity victories. Before Tuesday of this week, Jim Liggett from Carlmont of Belmont was all alone with 678 career wins. Joining him in the 600 club is Ron Clarke of Fairfield.

Clarke has been coaching at Fairfield for 25 years and the milestone win came via a 3-0 triumph over Hogan of Vallejo. He improved his career record to 600-193-4.

When the game concluded, Clarke's players weren't able to douse him with water, but later on they sprayed him with cider.

"This all wouldn't have happened without those people (who helped coach) and without the kids -- the average kid right down to the super kid -- all of whom made this possible," Clarke said. "Now I've got to go for 700."

Sophomore standout Amber Smith led the way for the Falcons in the historic game. She pitched a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts and also collected a pair of hit, including a triple.

•DOUBLING A PLEASURE FOR AIDEM: With all the doubles he's clubbing this year, Valencia High junior Matt Aidem has to be a fan of the double-double hamburger at In-N-Out.

Aidem had a key two-run double last week in a 4-3 win by the Vikings over Saugus and as of Wednesday of this week, according to Gerry Gittelson of the L.A. Daily News, had a whopping 18 on the season. With several games still left in the regular season, Aidem was only four away from the single-season state record of 22 set in 1992 by Graham Koonce of Julian and tied in 1998 by Gerald Laird of Westminster La Quinta.

Entering this week, Aidem also was clicking with a hefty .622 season batting average. And considering he's going against the likes of Hart, Saugus and others in the Foothill League and it's now May, that's a very impressive mark indeed.

•GOING, GOING, GONE (10 TIMES): Walnut Creek resident Hal Wilkerson thought it was hilarious reading through last week's list of state stat stars in baseball because one of them was Jeff Wilkerson from Santiago High of Corona, who had two homers and five RBI in a game. Hal, you see, also has a son named Jeff Wilkerson. He also plays baseball and he can hit, too.

The Las Lomas Jeff Wilkerson did more than hit two homers last week in his team's game with Alhambra of Martinez. He crushed three of them, finished 4-for-4 and was joined in a home run derby by his teammates that tied a state record.

Also hitting three homers in the 21-2 rout by the Knights was Bryan Lee. Diallo Fon added a grand slam home run, while also going deep were Tyler Anderson, Darren Graffuis and Sam Thomas. Las Lomas' 10 team homers tied the state record of 10 set in 2000 by Temecula Valley of Temecula.

In addition to the three homers, Wilkerson pitched a complete game and upped his record to 5-0. He's an Ivy League student and plans to continue playing baseball at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

•BOWEN ON A ROLL: In last week's Twist, I praised the hard road to the first round of the NFL Draft by A.B. Miller of Fontana graduate Nick Barnett. Similarly, you have to give it up for the San Antonio Spurs' Bruce Bowen as another former California prep who has continuously improved his game.

Bowen is known mostly for his hustle on the defensive end of the court, but this week he rained down seven three-pointers (out of eight attempts) and scored 27 points for the Spurs in their 114-95 rout of the L.A. Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference semifinals.

Bowen was good enough as a prep at Edison High of Fresno to receive mid-major recruiting interest and wound up signing at Cal State Fullerton. He had a career scoring average of just over 11 points per game for the Titans, but started to show some real promise in his senior year of college with an average of nearly 17 per game. Still, Bowen was undrafted by the NBA and even spent two years in Europe before the Miami Heat gave him a chance. He later played with the Celtics and 76ers (mixed in with stints in the CBA) until just two years ago when he was signed as a free agent by the Spurs.

Bowen probably isn't mentioned much by current high schoolers in California as a player they'd like to emulate -- Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce and Baron Davis would likely be first -- but based on what he's done to become a success maybe he should be.

•TRAFFIC DEATH: Last week's Ventura County track championships weren't dampened only by the weather. A Ventura County girls track athlete, Nicole Johnson from Westlake of Westlake Village, died earlier in the week from injuries she sustained in a car accident just outside the school. Johnson was sitting in her car, stopped at an intersection, when it was rear-ended from another vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. We'd like to extend our sympathies to the school.

•RARE LEAGUE LOSS: Glendale ended Crescenta Valley's softball league win streak last week at 55 games. Heather Hamasaki pitched a six-hitter with 12 strikeouts and scored the winning run in the top of the ninth to hand the La Crescenta school its first league loss in more than six years.

•CREATIVE NICKNAMES: We've been annoyed in recent years by the lack of creativity in selecting team nicknames for new schools in California, but a Northern Section school has come up with a dilly. Cascade, a small school in Whitmore about 45 miles from Redding and just getting into sports, uses the nickname, Crimson Ridge. Now if we only know how old the school is.

One of the new high schools scheduled to open next fall is Knight High of Palmdale. This conjures up all sorts of possibilities on a nickname. Knight Knights, Knight Hawks, Knight Lightning, Knight Jousters or Knight Owls would all be great ones.

•SACRAMENTO MEET OF CHAMPIONS: The 23rd annual track meet at Hughes Stadium was hampered by stormy weather last Saturday, but there were still some impressive performances. Skyline of Oakland's Kenny O'Neal sped to a 10.49 clocking for 100 meters and Renee Williams from the same school long jumped 20-5 3/4. She also had a wind-aided 20-6 1/2 jump. In the pole vault, Kira Costa from San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno reached 12-9, and Jessica Pressley from Laguna Creek of Elk Grove pushed out to 47-5 3/4 in the shot put. Williams, Costa and Pressley are the state season leaders in these events, respectively, but only Williams upped her season best.

Pressley has a season best of 49-10 1/4 which she accomplished at the Arcadia Invitational. She says she wants to get the national record, a farfetched dream since Michelle Carter of Red Oak, Texas has already pushed the record out over 54-feet this year. Pressley could get a dose of reality if Carter shows up at Sacramento's Golden West Invitational in June. That's the meet in which papa Michael Carter unleashed his humongous national record boys shot put heave of 81-3 1/2 in 1979.

•TRACK POWER IN TRACY: Outstanding girls track teams in Northern California often get overlooked because the top three in Southern California -- J.W. North of Riverside, Long Beach Poly and Long Beach Wilson -- are also the top three in the nation and are simply awesome. Merrill F. West of Tracy isn't that far behind and this year may have one of the best girls track teams in Northern California in the last 10 years.

At last week's Sacramento Meet of Champions, West's Brittany Daniels, the sophomore who is leading the state in the triple jump, was first in the triple jump and second in the long jump. Jennifer Nash, a junior, took first in the 100 (in 11.80 seconds) and was second in the 200. The Wolf Pack also swept both relays, going 47.87 in the 400 and 3:53.03 in the 1600. All this despite Alexis Bartschi not competing in the 800, where she is one of the best in the state. This also is a team with depth as Latrise Nunnally was second in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump and Shevell Quinley was fourth in the long jump. In fact, Daniels, Nunnally and Quinley could all be beyond 18 feet in the long jump by the end of the season.

•PURDY GOOD RANKING: I noticed in a column by the San Jose Mercury-News' Mark Purdy that former Los Gatos football coach Charley Wedemeyer is still inspiring many after all these years of suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Wedemeyer is now 56 years old and still assists coaching with the Wildcats' freshmen teams. Purdy, a nationally-known columnist who has interviewed hundreds of athletes and coaches, says that Wedemeyer is the most impressive person he's ever met. That goes for me, too. And No. 2 on my list would be Charley's wife, Lucy.

Note: Nelson Tennis contributed to this week's notes column.


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