California Collegiate League: Santa Barbara Powers the League & Walters Returns to Burn Hitters
The Santa Barbara Foresters had a 5 game winning streak snapped on June 29th in a tough 4-5 game against the Santa Maria Packers. In that game, Foresters NickMelino, a junior outfielder went 4 for 5, with a run scored and another one driven in. Melino has been a sure shot leadoff hitter that has hit .410 after 61 at bats. He knows how to get on base either by walking 10 times, or on one of his 25 hits. Melino’s on base percentage has felt the consistency with a percentage of .513. A little pop at the top of the lineup never hurts; Melino has connected with 3 long balls while driving in 16 runs in the process. This past spring at the University of Nevada, Melino was parading with his teams leading batting average of .388 and a slugging percentage of .625. The switch hitting Melino is sitting right behind the leagues leading hitter and Foresters teammate Jared Womack. Womack who held out for the school coming with the best offer, recently attained a full scholarship to attend Oklahoma State as a junior next year. Womack became one of the most sought after backstop recruits because he simply destroyed pitchers as a member of Ranger Community College in Texas. He led his school in just about every category, and this summer as a Forester, he continues to lead the California Collegiate League with a .435 batting average after 62 at bats.
Womack seems to always be on base, his league leading .526 percentage makes him a serious threat. He’s currently playing outfield for the Foresters, and were still not sure whether Womack will catch for Oklahoma State, but his bat is making him an interesting headline across the country. Melino and Womack are two examples of why the Foresters lead the league with a .310 batting average. But, Chris Joyce is an example of why the Foresters also lead the league in pitching (3.07). Joyce is a freshman left hander who’s slowly increasing his innings to 21. He’s struck out 32 batters that have only managed to hit .111 against him. Joyce has a record of 2-0, 2.14, and is becoming a power pitching strikeout machine in the league. This past spring at Central Arizona Junior College, Joyce led the team with a 12-3, 2.36, in 91.2 innings. He powered his way with 95 strikeouts and helped take his team to a 2nd place finish with a record of 27-11 in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. Make no mistake, the Foresters are a powerhouse in the league, but they are a half game behind the 1st place San Luis Obispo Blues in the league standings despite having the best overall record 15-6.
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The Conejo Oaks have a junior pitcher named Blair Walters. This summer the Oaks are sitting at the cellar of the leagues standings, but a shining Walters is making things a bit more bearable. In his 23 innings of work, Walters has a record 2-0, 1.96, and has 5-31 walk to strikeout ratio. Despite giving up 24 hits, Walters has escaped many innings with little to no damage. This past spring Walters pitched for the University of Hawaii and struggled to find his center. He pitched 35.1 innings and was bruised, and scarred with an ERA of 7.07, but collected 35 strikeouts. Walters experienced the NCAA regional in Tempe Arizona pitching 3.1 innings, scattering 6 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts, and record the win against San Diego. That experience strengthened Walters; he enters the California Collegiate League a bit late this summer, but has quickly jumped on hitters as a solid starter.
By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer