High School Sports

Local Digest: Downey’s turf getting replaced; Denair pitcher strikes out 20 of 21

Work to replace the turf at Chuck Hughes Stadium at Downey High School that began in late April is expected to be done by June at the latest according to football coach, Jeremy Plaa.

The “hope” is to have the work done by the time of the school’s graduation which is May 30.

It’s the first time the turf will be replaced since it was installed in 2007.

A combination of funds from the Modesto City School District and private donations has been set aside each year since its installation in preparation for the repairs.

Denair pitcher throws perfect game: Denair senior pitcher JT Smith threw perfect game in the Coyotes’ 9-0 win over Delhi on Friday.

Smith struck out 20 of the 21 batters he faced and the only ball in play he allowed was a line drive to the first baseman.

“I knew the game was going by pretty quick,” said Smith. “I asked someone when we were up what inning it was. They said it was going to be the seventh. No one wanted to say anything. “When I went out to the mound, I saw my mom in the stands. My dad went down the outfield line. I was nervous, I admit it. It was pretty intense.”

He struck out the last three batters for the perfect game.

He has a 1.59 earned run average this year and has struck out 81 batters in 44 innings.

His 20 strikeouts tied a section record set in 1982 by Amador’s Steve Young.

“JT was electric,” Denair coach Craig Cumberland said. “He’s been pitching excellent all year. He works fast and throws strikes.”

Two VOL tennis teams to play for title: Central Catholic and Oakdale boys tennis teams are both playing for CIF Sac-Joaquin Section titles this week.

Oakdale will face Valley Oak League foe Manteca in the Div. IV final on Tuesday at a site to be determined while the Raiders will face Vista Del Lago in the Div. III final at the Laguna Creek Sports Club in Elk Grove on Wednesday.

Central Catholic lost to Vista Del Lago in the Div. IV final last year.

Local swimmers advance to State Meet: Two swimmers have advanced to this weekend’s CIF State Swim Championships in Clovis and they both are freshman.

Gregori’s Sean Gutowski and Ripon’s Lucas Esenwein both qualified for the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events after top performances at the section championships on May 4 at Tokay High.

Esenwein’s times were 20.76 seconds in the 50 and 45.95 in the 100 and he will swim in both. Gutowski’s time of 21.24 in the 50 has him in the consolation race while he is in the “A” race in the 100 (46.04).

Nuts begin homestand Tuesday: After a brief three-game road trip against the Stockton Ports, the Modesto Nuts return home Tuesday and will host the San Jose Giants (Tuesday-Thursday) and Lancaster JetHawks (Friday-Sunday).

Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.