NCS playoffs: Point Arena focused on title despite turmoil

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Eleven days ago at the beginning of the North Coast Section Tournament, 34 baseball and softball teams from the Redwood Empire were set to chase a championship dream.

As the tournament comes to an end today, only one Empire team still has a chance to achieve that goal.

The lone team from this area still standing is the Point Arena baseball squad.

A victory over St. Bernard Catholic today in Eureka and the Pirates will be Division 6 champs.

It’s been a tumultuous week for the players. Last Saturday, a few hours after the team advanced to the finals with a win over Mendocino, coach Trevor Sanders was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence after he allegedly rammed his SUV into other cars outside a Point Arena bar. Then midweek, the team’s shortstop was dismissed from the team.

Sanders will not be in the dugout for today’s game. His assistant, Roger Little, oversaw practice this week and is the interim coach.

“Everything’s messed up,” Justin Sundstrom, one of the team leaders, said. “It’s crazy what’s going on. I hope we show up and play the way we can, but I don’t know.”

Point Arena will be the underdog. Besides having home field advantage, St. Bernard Catholic (16-10) is the No. 1 seed and reigning Humboldt Del Norte Little 4 League champions.

The Pirates are the No. 6 seed and sport a 12-4 record. They won the NCL III.

Point Arena got to the finals by defeating No. 3 seed Rincon Valley Christian in the opening round and then eliminating Mendocino in the semifinals.

“We’re dedicating this game to coach Sanders,” said Sundstrom. “Hopefully, we’ll make him proud.”

With Sanders at the helm, Point Arena won the 2012 NCS title and lost to Tomales in the championship game last year.

In addition to the distraction, Sundstrom and five starters have had a busy week.

On Wednesday, the school’s seniors drove down to Southern California and visited Magic Mountain for their graduation trip.

The group drove back on Friday and today the players got in vans once again for the five-hour trip to Eureka.

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