SAN DIEGO—(June 5, 2018)—San Diego Padres closer Brad Hand was about as perfect as possible in earning May professional Star of the Month honors as selected by the San Diego Hall of Champions.
Hand, who was honored by Major League Baseball as the National League Reliever of the Month, converted all 11 of his save attempts, allowing just one earned run in 14.2 innings.
He was joined in the pro category by two other pitchers, former SDSU ace Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals and ex-Fallbrook High standout Mike Leake of the Seattle Mariners.
Strasburg went 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA, striking out 40 batters in 32.1 innings. Leake won four straight at the end of the month, fanning 17 batters and walking only five.
Two Mountain West Conference champions highlighted the six amateur Stars of the Month.
Ashley Henderson continued her dominance by winning the 100, 200 and running anchor on the Aztecs’ gold medal 4×100 relay team to capture Most Outstanding Performance honors in track while freshman Casey Schmitt earned MVP of the MWC Baseball Tournament, his two-run double keying a 14-5 victory over UNLV for the title.
Elsewhere, former San Pasqual standout Haley Moore lifted the University of Arizona to the NCAA golf title as she birdied the first extra-hole for a 3-2 win over Alabama; USD’s August Holmgren led the Toreros to a first-round NCAA Tournament upset of Texas Tech; Point Loma Nazarene’s Colby Kaneshiro was the batting hero of the Sea Lions’ 13-12 NCAA Regional win over Cal State Monterey Bay; and UC San Diego’s Zander Clarke led the Tritons to a 13-2 record with 31 RBI to give him a school-record 86 on the season.
Record-setting James Song of Torrey Pines topped the six high school Stars of the Month as he led the Falcons to the section golf title with a 9-under par 63 over the Admiral Baker course. Joining him were section champions Mackenzie Ryan of West Hills in gymnastics; Torrey Pines’ Nik Speshilov who won the singles tennis championship; Dylan Delaney of La Costa Canyon who set the section 50-yard freestyle record at 20.21 seconds; El Camino’s Nu’u Tuilefano who swept the section shot put and discus competition; and Eastlake’s Grant Holman who was 4-0 with a 2.80 pitching ERA and a .452 batting average for the Titans.
BRAD HAND, Baseball, San Diego Padres—There simply was no better relief pitcher in the National League than Hand and that was proven when he was selected National League Pitcher of the Month. Hand converted all 11 of his saves attempts, allowing just one run in 14.2 innings. He inherited eight runners and not one of them scored.
STEPHEN STRASBURG, Baseball, Washington Nationals, West Hills High-SDSU alumnus—As the weather was heating up so was Strasburg who went 4-1 with a glittering 2.51 ERA. He hurled 32.1 innings, allowing 10 runs, striking out 40 batters while allowing nine walks. He had a 1.08 WHIP and opposing batters hit just.220.
MIKE LEAKE, Baseball, Seattle Mariners, Fallbrook High alumnus—After a slow start with his new team, the right-hander won his final four games of the month, allowing just nine runs. In 32.1 innings, Leake fashioned a 3.34 ERA, striking out 17 and walking only five. Even after giving up five runs to the Angels, he had a 1.14 WHIP.
HALEY MOORE, Golf, Arizona, San Pasqual High alumnus—A birdie four on the first extra hole broke a 2-2 tie and handed the Wildcats a 3-2 victory over Alabama in the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Ok. Moore’s 4-foot putt gave her the victory over the Sooners’ Lakareber Abe just three days after Arizona was one putt away from being eliminated.
ASHLEY HENDERSON, Track and Field, San Diego State—There was no slowing the Aztec senior who helped SDSU win Mountain West Outdoor Championship, being named MWC Most Outstanding Performer. She took gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100m relay, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in all three events.
CASEY SCHMITT, Baseball, SDSU, Eastlake High alumnus—The freshman third baseman-pitcher was named the MWC Tournament Most Valuable Player after his double drove in a pair of runs in a 14-5 win over UNLV. Earlier he pitched the last three innings in a 2-1victory over UNLV. He was 1-1 with a 0.28 ERA with 9 saves and 24 strikeouts for the season.
AUGUST HOLMGREN, Tennis, USD—A freshman from Denmark, Holmgren helped lead San Diego to an NCAA Tournament first-round upset against No. 30 Texas Tech, which sent the Toreros to the second round for the ninth time in program history. He earned the West Coast Conference automatic bid to compete in the NCAA Championships singles tournament, finishing with a 22-9 record.
COLBY KANESHIRO, Baseball, Point Loma Nazarene University—The Sea Lions collected their first-ever NCAA Regional win with a 13-12 victory over No. 1 seed Cal State Monterey Bay behind Kaneshiro. He went 3-for-4 with a home run, five RBI and two runs scored. He finished the month going 10-for-28 with two home runs, four walks, eight RBI and eight runs scored.
ZANDER CLARKE, Baseball, UC San Diego—A junior right-fielder, Clarke led the No. 22 Tritons to a 13-2 record en route to a return to the NCAA Division II Championship. Check website. Clarke totaled 31 RBI, giving him 86 for the season, a school record and tied for second nationally for all NCAA divisions. He hit a team-best .417 (25-60) with 18 runs, five doubles, seven home runs, an .850 slugging percentage and .478 OBP.
JAMES SONG, Golf, Torrey Pines—Firing a 9-under-par 63 was good enough for Song to set the section single-round record at Admiral Baker North. But he really impressed when he shot another 9-under 63 to eclipse the championship record by seven strokes and win the event by four shots.
MACKENZIE RYAN, Gymnastics, West Hills—A freshman, Ryan certainly wasn’t intimidated by the section championship crowd or the competition. She captured the beam event with 9.55 points and scored just well enough to edge teammate Tessa Anderson for the optional all-around title, 37.575 to 37.050.
NIK SPESHILOV, Tennis, Torrey Pines—Surviving six break points in the first set, the Falcons senior took control to capture the individual singles crown with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Hilltop’s Ivan Smith. Speshilov was seeded fourth coming into the championships at the Balboa Tennis Club.
DYLAN DELANEY, Swimming, La Costa Canyon—Capturing the section 50-yard freestyle in record fashion would prove to be just the start as the Mavericks senior competed the next weekend in Clovis and lowered the record to 20.21 seconds, placing second overall and just missing cracking the 20-second barrier.
NU’U TUILEFANO, Track, El Camino—For the second straight season there simply was not a better weight event competitor in the section. The senior defended her titles by winning the shot put with an effort of 40-feet, 2-inches and the discus throw at 139-8, qualifying for the state meet in both events.
GRANT HOLMAN, Baseball, Eastlake—The defending Open Division champions make another run at the title with the senior playing a large role. Holman was 4-0 on the mound with a 2.80 earned-in-average. At the plate he batted .452 (14 of 31) with 3 home runs. 9 RBI and 11 runs scored.