SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Baseball pitcher Ben Elder of Butte College and badminton star Yukari Naono from Grossmont College turned in outstanding performances during March and were rewarded for their efforts by being named the California Community College Sports Information Association Men's and Women's Athletes of the Months, it was announced on Thursday.
The monthly award, which spans the community college award sports season from September through May, has been in existence since 2005 when the CCCSIA began the task of choosing a male and female athlete of the month.
Ben Elder – Baseball – Butte – Freshman
Elder had an amazing March for the Golden Valley Conference-leading Roadrunners. He won all five games that he started, completing four of them with three shutout. Elder struck out 33 batters, allowed just five walks and held opponents to just a 207 batting average.
Yukari Naono (Badminton – Grossmont – Sophomore
Naono, last year's state singles and doubles champion, remained undefeated this season by sweeping all of her matches in March while continuing to not drop a set along the way. She beat Sabrino Lo (Irvine Valley), Anne Olsen (Irvine Valley), Megumi Tenouchi (Grossmont) and Michiho Kobayashi (Grossmont) to claim the singles championship at the San Diego Mesa Tournament on Mar. 16. She and Kobayashi were also undefeated in doubles and helped Grossmont beat San Diego Mesa and San Diego City in duals.
Men's Honorable Mention
Reese Berberet (Baseball – Long Beach – Sophomore)
Resse has played in 30 games so far this season, 35 runs, 14 home runs, 38 RBIs, 43 hits, .358 batting average, .465 on base percentage, .808 slugging percentage. Set both the single season and career HR records at LBCC with 3 HR in the doubleheader sweep of Compton.
Kent Hunter (Tennis – Cerritos – Freshman)
The state's top-ranked singles player, Kent Hunter maintained his undefeated record in both singles and doubles by going 9-0 in both during the month of March. Hunter, who played in the #1 singles and #1 doubles positions, won all nine of his singles matches in straight sets (has not lost a set all season), and surrendered just 15 games in all of the matches combined. Three of his wins came against NCAA Division III schools, while in doubles, he went 9-0 with four different partners. On the year, Hunter is 16-0 in singles play and 17-0 in doubles.
Robert McCoy (Basketball – San Diego CC – Sophomore)
Sophomore guard Robert McCoy led San Diego City with a 16.8 scoring average throughout the season, but it jumped up to 19.2 in March as he helped get the Knights to a second consecutive state championship game. McCoy exploded for 32 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in a 91-84 win over Ventura in a SoCal regional final. He had 12 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in a 90-82 state semifinal win over Fresno. Although the Knights lost to San Francisco in the state title game, McCoy scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half as he tried to lead a comeback. He also added six rebounds and three blocks in the loss, the team's third of the season and first since November 19.
Matthew Rafter (Golf – Cypress – Sophomore)
Rafter helped lead the Cypress College men's golf team to three first-place and one second-place finish in the month of March. He was one of three medalists at the SoCal Preview, shooting a second-best 2-under (70) at Bakersfield, before grabbing two individual medals in Orange Empire Conference play, where he shot a tournament-best 1-under par (69) at Candlewood and a 2-under (69) at Industry Hills. Thanks to Rafter, the men's golf team entered April atop the OEC standings as the program looks to win its first OEC Title since 1976.
Women's Honorable Mention
Briana Lopez (Softball, Cerritos, Sophomore)
In the eight games played in March, Lopez batted a scalding .452 (14-for-31) with four doubles, a triple and five home runs, while driving in 15 runs. Lopez, who had a 1.129 slugging percentage, also started all eight games behind the plate. She had a trio of three-hit games and clubbed a pair of home runs and drove in six runs against Citrus to cap off the month. She is currently tied for the state lead in home runs (14), fifth in slugging percentage (1.034) and tied for sixth in RBI (40)
Roxanne Nolan (Track and Field, Cuesta, Sophomore)
Nolan cleared a state-best 12 feet, 1.5 inches on March 30 and has been undefeated all season. She leads the state by a full foot in her event.
Claudia Stepien (Tennis, Desert, Sophomore)
Stepien had an impressive March, posting a perfect 11-0 record in singles and partnering to go 8-3 in doubles. She was the No. 1-ranked player in her conference and had not lost more than three games all season.
(David Silverstein, Big 8 Conference for the CCCSIA)