Parade celebrates Monterey High School’s CCS champion softball, baseball team – Monterey Herald


It was a season to remember for Monterey High School’s baseball and softball teams.

For the first time ever, both teams won Central Coast Section titles in their respective divisions. The Peninsula celebrated the high school’s dual win during a championship parade in downtown Monterey Thursday.

“I was really proud of the city of Monterey and the school district for stepping up and doing the parade yesterday,” said the high school’s baseball coach, Michael Groves. “It’s just so great to have the community rally around the kids when they have success like that.”

The high school’s baseball team won the CCS Division III championship by a 7-0 score in the final. The last time Monterey won the title was in 2011.

“Winning a section title in California is not necessarily an easy thing to do,” Groves said. “I’ve been doing this for 42 years and we’ve won four section titles.”

But for much of the season, returning to such hallowed grounds seemed like nothing more than a dream.

After losing all their preseason games and averaging two hits a game and three to four errors, Groves said he and the coaches started to question whether the team would be able to scrape together a win. But Groves refused to give up.

Two-thirds of the way through the season, after practicing six days a week, the team started to click together. They ended up winning nine games in a row — six league games and three CCS postseason games — to earn the title.

“We were losing a lot of games early on and it just seemed like it was going to be a very challenging season,” Groves admitted. “I think the message at the end of the day was, ‘How do you get better every day? How do you help get your teammates better every day?’ And we just kept going to work.”

This year was the first time high school sports teams in the area returned to a normal game schedule since the start od the COVID-19 pandemic. Groves credits the championship win to the rigorous schedule his team endured last year, because he said it prepared them for this year’s intense playoffs season.

Last year’s season didn’t start until April, much later than the typically February start, and teams weren’t allowed to travel out of the county. Groves said his athletic director told him he’d be lucky to fit 12 games into the season, but he was determined to fit as many games into the season as possible.

“These kids have been sitting on a couch for the last year and haven’t been able to play sports. … I get calls from them, they’re depressed, they’re unhappy,” he explained. “(I said) I’m going to put together as many games as I possibly can.”

The team ended up playing 27 games, with some weeks crammed with four or five games. Groves said by the end of the season, he had players come up to him and tell them how grateful they were.

“I had a couple kids come up to me and say, ‘Coach, I know you said the five-game week was going to be tiring, but we’ve never had more fun in our lives,’ ” he continued. “We got them out of the pandemic, out of that whole kind of place where kids are just shut down and feeling depressed. And we got them out on the field.”

And for the first time in the team’s history, the softball team won the CCS Division II championship and the CIF NorCal Regional Softball Division IV title.

This year was the first year that the California Interscholastic Federation added NorCal regional playoff games after the section playoffs. Forty teams in both baseball and softball were divided into five divisions of eight teams, based on strength.

“It’s just fantastic. It was a really fun spring, really great for Monterey High School,” said Groves of the softball team’s win. “The girls having never won the section, I just think it was such a big thing for them. And then for them to take it to the next level and win the (NorCal tournament), I thought was fantastic.”

As for what’s next, Groves hopes to put together a combined championship ring ceremony for the teams. He said the girls team and boys team often cheered each other on during the season and he’d like to celebrate both teams together. And he’s already preparing to set goals with the baseball team’s student-athletes for the next season.

One thing he can cross off though is the promise he made to his team at the beginning of their season.

“We set the goal early on in the season about winning a section title, and I have a commitment to take them to Original Joe’s for dinner if we win the section title,” he explained.

So after winning the championship at the historic Excite Ballpark, a crowd of ecstatic, sweaty high school baseball players and their parents packed into downtown San Jose’s Original Joe’s at 10:30 p.m., wrapping up their championship season with Italian food and hamburgers.



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