By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Pitching to keep Sonoma State in the postseason hunt, Amanda Llerena is the conference pitcher of the week, leading the Seawolves into this weekend’s regular season-ending series.
The sophomore hurler has been even more dominant than a year ago, when she teamed with record-setting Samantha Lipperd to form one of the nation’s top pitching tandems.
Against rival Chico State last week, Llerena went 2-1, allowing only one run in 18 innings. Her loss came in a 1-0 defeat to open the series. Llerena followed that with 15 straight scoreless innings and a two-hit shutout.
For the season, Llerena, from San Jose, is 20-10 with a 1.83 ERA. She has five shutouts and 175 strikeouts. Llerena ranks first in the California Collegiate Athletic Association in innings pitched and strikeouts, second in wins and third in earned-run average.
Sonoma State and the team’s ace complete CCAA play with two doubleheaders at San Francisco State.
Sonoma State is 33-17 overall and in fourth place in the CCAA standings with a 17-15 record. The Seawolves are one game ahead of both Cal State San Bernardino and Chico for the final conference tournament playoff spot.
The top four teams at the end of the regular season advance to the CCAA championship tournament May 2-4 in Stockton.
WATER POLO HONORS
Sonoma State’s best women’s water polo season in five years is highlighted with a record seven all-conference players.
Going into the Western Water Polo Association tournament this weekend, Sonoma State has three All-Conference First Team selections in Noelle Herrera and Brittny Hummel. Nicole Browning, Andrea Mallul and Alexa May were honorable mentions. Tessa de Recat and Carleigh Robinson made the all-freshman team. Herrera, from Orange, was a conference player of week this season. She leads the team in goals and also has 11 assists and 18 steals.
Hummel, from Santa Barbara, is a strong two-way threat with 23 goals and 33 steals.
May, from Pismo Beach, was second with 26 goals. Browning, from Lake Forest, has 10 goals and 9 assists as a defender. Mallul, from Oxnard, anchors the defense as goalkeeper.
The freshman duo provides great balance. Robinson, from Temecula, has 22 goals, and deRecat, from San Juan Capistrano, is among the team leaders with 14 assists.
Sonoma State is at the WWPA tournament in La Jolla this weekend.
Defending champion UC San Diego is the top seed. Three teams tied for second with Cal State Monterey the No. 2 seed, Cal State East Bay No. 3, and Sonoma State fourth based on tiebreakers.
SOPH, FROSH HIGHLIGHT GOLF
Led by two young standouts, the Sonoma State men’s golf team finished strong in the conference championships.
Seawolves sophomore Brandon Lee was named All-California Collegiate Athletic Association, and Justin Shluker took freshman of the year honors. Lee, from Alpharetta, Ga., led the team with a 74.44 stroke average. He was the Seawolves’ top golfer in four tournaments this season, including each of the past three.
Shluker, from Park City, Utah, recorded a 75.44 stroke average.
They helped Sonoma State move up a spot on the final day to finish fifth in the 2014 CCAA Men’s Golf Championship at Brookside Country Club in Stockton. Lee was Sonoma State’s low scorer and sixth individual overall.
This was Sonoma State’s eighth top-five finish in the past nine years.
Entering the conference finals Sonoma State was ranked 23rd in the nation and fourth in the West.
Michael Coit can be reached at email@example.com.