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Past and present Santa Maria baseball players savor CIF championship

Two days after winning the program’s first CIF championship in 60 years, the Santa Maria baseball team was all smiles Monday afternoon.

“It feels amazing,” said senior Paul Navarro. “Playing with my brothers. Coming out here everyday and working hard and we deserved it.”

Immediately after school, team members were at a familiar place for all of them, the baseball field. However, no one was in uniform. Instead, they were there to have their fingers sized up for championship rings.

“It’s going to remind of probably my best year of my career with my brothers and every time I look at it will remind me of this team and everyone on it,” said senior Trevor Garcia, who was the winning pitcher in Saturday’s 9-0 victory over Moreno Valley.

The 2017 squad will go down as the best Saints team since the one in 1957, which was the last Santa Maria team to win a CIF championship.

“There was a lot of talent there,” said 1957 team member Russ Zierman. “There was a lot of good players on the team.”

Zierman, a junior reserve on the squad, is still involved in athletics six decades after earning a championship in high school. He’s currently a physical education teacher at St. Louis de Montefort School in Orcutt.

“All I remember is that we won and what happened after,” said Zierman. “I remember the most, throwing Coach (Don) Wilson in the shower after the game. That was a big deal for us.”

As Zierman reminisced on the 1957 championship, he was quick to praise the current team for earning the CIF-SS Division 6 title.

“I’m really proud of the team that just accomplished it again,” said Zierman. “They have a lot to be proud of and they’ll have a lot of memories like I did on that day.”

For this year’s team, the title was a bit unexpected. The Saints entered the postseason after finishing third place in the Los Padres League.

However, once the postseason started, the team peaked at just the right time, winning all six of its playoff games by a combined score of 66-12.

“Santa Maria has a lot of pride in their baseball and this is a great team to be on playing baseball,” Navarro said.

The baseball title caps an incredible athletic run for Santa Maria during the 2016-17 school year.

Other notable accomplishments include the boys soccer team earning its first ever State Championship playoff appearance, the boys water polo team earned its first CIF semifinal appearance in 26 years, the boys wrestling team captured its fifth straight league championship, the boys basketball team won its first CIF playoff game in more than 20 years, the football team won its most games in more than 20 years, the boys golf team sent a player to CIF for the first time ever and both the boys and girls cross country teams competed in the CIF prelims together for the first time ever.

“We’re getting more and more athletic and it just happened to be this year all of our sports were doing good,” said Garcia.

The baseball team will be formally recognized during graduation ceremonies on Thursday. The team will also be honored this week at Downtown Friday’s at Santa Maria Town Center West.

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