Santana Sultans takes the lead in league

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The Sultans must have been sleeping when El Capitan’s Vaqueros scored the first point in the first inning of their game at Santana on Friday, May 5, 2017. But when the yellow-jerseyed runner crossed the chalky home plate and a bright red number one blinked on the “guest” side of the scoreboard, the Sultans woke up. Refusing to allow the Vaqueros another run, Santana claimed the ‘W’, 13-1.

The Sultans must have been sleeping when El Capitan’s Vaqueros scored the first point in the first inning of their game at Santana on Friday, May 5, 2017. But when the yellow-jerseyed runner crossed the chalky home plate and a bright red number one blinked on the “guest” side of the scoreboard, the Sultans woke up. Refusing to allow the Vaqueros another run, Santana claimed the ‘W’, 13-1.

In a competitive conference, the Sultans have made a stunning push for league champions and, following their win against El Capitan, are leading conference standings with a 7-1 record and just a few weeks left in the season. Helix (6-2) is nipping at their heels, promising an exciting match when the two go head-to-head on Friday, May 12. 

Santana head coach Rigo Ledezma said the success this season is not a surprise for the team, but it is not their focus point either.

“We’ve always expected to do well but we don’t talk about that,” he said. “We usually spend more time talking about what it takes to be in this position, which is to focus on the process, to work hard in practice and get better every single day.”

For this season’s squad of Santana seniors, the trek towards a league championship began years ago. More than half the team is seniors, said starting pitcher Colton Calvert, and they all started playing together in Little League. 

“We’re all good friends, all of us since Little League,” he said. “We’ve known each other forever, it’s like playing with your brothers out there.”

First baseman Noah Nunez said the knit of the team has improved their playing.

“We have such good team chemistry,” he said. “I know we’ll go far as long as we keep playing the way that we play.”

Nunez and Calvert said that the team is mature, not just in talent but in mentality. When Anders Tolhurst hit a sacrifice fly to help Calvert get into scoring position during the second inning of their game against El Capitan, the whole dugout came out to greet him as Tolhurst jogged back from first base. 

“That’s big for us, you’re doing the right thing if you do that,” Nunez said of Tolhurst’s sacrificial hit and the team’s response. “That’s a huge part of our team.”

Calvert said he attributes their improvement this season to that kind of attitude.

“We’re not selfish,” he said. “If one guys is not doing good we pick him up and someone else does the job for him. It could be any guy, any time who will put the team on his back.”

Both seniors said they felt good about the win over the Vaqueros.

“It felt good to blow this one open and let some guys that don’t usually get to play get in and play during some of the later innings,” said Calvert. “But we don’t let winning get to us, we grind the whole game.”

Santana has four games left in the season — one against each other school in conference. Their last home game of the season will also be their last match against El Capitan, on May 17 at 4 p.m.

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