Prep teams to keep an eye on as the playoffs approach |

Prep teams to keep an eye on as the playoffs approach

The spring is the busiest time of the year for high school sports with baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, swimming, diving, track and field, lacrosse, golf and volleyball all taking place. With so many sports to follow and many talented teams in the area, we took a look at some of the local prep teams that are turning heads.

Bear River softball (14-3, 6-0 Pioneer Valley league)

The Lady Bruins are a force to be reckon with this season. Led by their sensational sophomore Nerissa Long and a handful of strong bats, the Bruins are poised for another league title and a deep playoff run.

The two-time defending PVL champs have buzzed through the first half of their league schedule this season, going 6-0 and beating their opponents by a combined score of 32-3.

Long is by far the most impressive pitcher in the league with two no-hitters and a 12-3 overall record from the circle (Long is 6-0 in league play). The hard-throwing righty has an ERA of 0.51 and has struck out 182 batters in 104 innings of work.

"She has been phenomenal, just phenomenal on the mound," Bear River head coach Duane Zauner said. "I couldn't ask for anything more."

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The Lady Bruins' No. 2 pitcher is freshman Arielle Koerber, and while she has been limited in innings (14), she has been effective when called upon. Koerber totes a 0.50 ERA with 24 strikeouts to just five walks. Koerber also has a no-hitter this season.

The big difference from last season to this year's campaign is the Lady Bruins' bats. Bear River is no-longer a one-trick pony and can hurt teams from many spots in their lineup.

There are three Lady Bruins batting over .400 with Rachel Last (.404), Mikayla Laymance (.405) and Long (.449). Last is one of two seniors on the team and is the only holdover from the 2012 Sac-Joaquin Section D-III championship team. She brings veteran leadership and some pop to the top of the lineup with five doubles, two triples and a home run this season.

Long leads the team in extra-base hits with 11 (six doubles, three triples and two home runs).

Other key contributors this season are Maddie Ferri at second base, Dayna Wicks at first base and Indyia Vierra at shortstop.

The Lady Bruins next home game is at 4 p.m. Thursday against the second-place Lincoln Lady Fighting Zebras (10-8, 4-1 PVL). The first time the two teams met, Bear River won 2-0 and Long threw a one-hitter.

Nevada Union volleyball (16-6, 4-1 Sierra Foothill League)

The Miners are in the thick of another stellar season with their eyes fixed on a second-straight Sierra Foothill league title.

Through the first half of the league season NU is 4-1, with its lone loss coming at the hands of defending Sac-Joaquin Section D-1 champion Granite Bay.

The Grizzlies have been a continual fly in the ointment for NU coach Marco Salcedo, beating his Miners in the section title game last season, ousting the Miners in the semifinals in 2012 and beating them in the section's inaugural title game in 2009.

In the first meeting between NU and Granite Bay this season, the game went four sets. The two teams meet again at 6 p.m. Monday at NU.

Forest Lake Christian soccer (12-4, 9-0 Central Valley California League)

The Lady Falcons are soaring through the season and look to land in the playoffs with a Central Valley California League title in their clutches.

Led by new head coach Cameron Entz, Forest Lake Christian is crushing their competition. The Lady Falcons are 9-0 in league play and have outscored their opponents 50-1.

Senior Sarah Ponce is the Lady Falcons' leading scorer, averaging 1.83 goals per game, and she is just heating up. In three games in the month of April, Ponce has scored 11 goals.

Freshmen Courtney John and Autumn Green also pose a scoring threat and junior Erica Grizoffi leads the team in assists.

The Lady Falcons have a pair of strong goalies to compliment their high-powered offense as junior Seleste Miranda and sophomore Riley Ballard have combined for 11 shutouts.

FLC has just three games left this season with the lone home game left on the schedule being at 4 p.m. Thursday against Victory Christian. A win against Victory Christian would earn the Lady Falcons the league title.

Bear River baseball (10-9, 6-5 Pioneer Valley League)

There are four critical games left for the Bruins who currently cling to the third and final playoff spot allotted to the PVL.

Bear River has two games this week against PVL league leader Colfax (15-4, 10-1 PVL) and must take at least one to feel comfortable heading into he final week of the league season, where they will face Center (8-11, 4-7 PVL) twice.

The Bruins are a gritty team that doesn't have a super star, but rather a well-rounded group of ball players that can get the job done.

"The bottom line is this is a terrific ball club in my opinion," Bear River head coach said of his team in an interview earlier this season. "We are playing well, pitching well, were playing pretty good defense, and if we can get our hitting going in a more timely basis I think we will be alright."

Battling Bear River for the final playoff spot is Placer, who holds the tie breaker over the Bruins in case of a tie in the standings. The Hillmen (8-11, 5-6 PVL) have four league games left as well, taking on second place Lincoln (9-10-1, 8-3 PVL) twice before facing a deplorable Foothill team twice to close the league season.

The Bruins travel to Colfax today for a 4 p.m. start against the Falcons, and will host Colfax at 4 p.m. Friday.

NU, Bear River track & field

The Miners and Bruins have plenty to offer in track and field this season and all that talent will be showcased May 9 at Nevada Union's Hooper Stadium when the two teams co-host the Nevada Union/Bear River Invitational.

Nevada Union a bevy of talent to behold with Mo Nieves in the 100-meter dash, Garrett Migliozzi and Nora Pizzella in the distance runs, Melanie O'Brien in the hurdles and Delaney Smith in the high jump.

The Bruins will also feature several strong athletes, but none may be more exciting than Jason McShane in the pole vault event. McShane is the current school record holder in the event and has been adding height to his vaults all year.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email All stats were provided by

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